We all make our new year’s resolutions with the best of intentions, but for most of us, we inevitably stray from them as the year rolls on. According to Journal of Clinical Psychology, more than 60% of Americans make new year’s resolutions and only 8% of us actually meet our goals.
Keeping resolutions is tough, but there is something we can do about it. Here are some simple tips to avoid de-railing from your goals:
Check the Rearview Mirror. Iconic psychologist Carl Jung once said, “those who look outward, dream; those who look inward, awaken.” You can’t move forward without knowing where you have been. Introspection is critical to career success and thriving in these tough times means acknowledging mistakes, learning from them and then letting them go. Take stock of what worked well for you last year and what didn’t. Understanding what has worked best for you in the past will help you understand the kind of commitment you can most likely achieve.
Go Big, Just don’t Go Crazy. It’s good to stretch yourself, but make sure you are realistic about your resolutions. In other words, stretch with purpose and be sure to break your goals into reasonably- attainable chunks (or sub-goals) so you can tackle them one at a time. Research has shown that big goals become more attainable when you break them down into bite-sized morsels. To stay on track, set weekly and monthly check-ins to evaluate your progress. It’s OK to get a little off-track from time to time, just be sure not to completely derail. It’s important to have measures of success to show you are moving forward. Even the little wins can be motivating; embracing them can have a snowballing effect and set you up for future success.
GPS Your Goals. Don’t fall into the trap of picking a couple lofty goals and then not taking the time to plan how you are actually going to pull them off. It’s easy to pick goals, making them happen is another story. Every destination requires a route to get there. The route you choose is up to you, but you will need a GPS (or a roadmap if you are old school) to provide a guide. If you don’t commit to a destination and plan a path for getting there, it’s a sure bet you’ll never make it.
Hold a Press Conference. The best way to hold yourself accountable is to go public with your goals. Let people know your resolutions and your intent to keep them. Consider taking to Twitter or Facebook to share your 2014 goals with those who will support you. The idea is to use public accountability to hold yourself responsible to follow through on what you say you are going to do. There is nothing like a little public pressure and fear of shame to motivate success.
When all is said and done, your goals are your own and your marks for personal success are up to you define. Create a reasonable vision that’s truly your own, draw a roadmap, and don’t be afraid to share it with your friends and family.
Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and the new on-line course The YOU Plan for Career Change on Udemy. Dr. Woody is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership. Follow Dr. Woody on Twitter and Facebook.