Resolutions just suck. Even the word resolution sounds out of it…old… bound by tradition …and in some cases, the word even has a slightly legal twang to it. String that word together with the ever popular words new and year’s and you really have a pile of burning old world obligation on your doorstep. It’s not the happiest way to start a new year…especially when you learn that nearly half of all 2015 New Year’s resolutions have already been forgotten.
This burdensome idea of declaring a good intention is at least 4,000 years old…so don’t think the idea of resolutions is going away anytime soon. January 1st is a time when family, friends, and businesses alike make resolutions to do better and be better. It may have been easier 4,000 years ago to be a Babylonian at New Year’s…one’s only resolutions were expected to be: 1. Pay back your debt and 2. Return any farm implements or tools you had borrowed. No word on what happened if you didn’t live up to your resolution. I’ll let you guess.
Who’s Watching You?
The U.S. government (and who knew that they were busy tracking our intentions) reports that the most frequently made resolutions are these:
- Lose Weight
- Volunteer to Help Others
- Quit Smoking
- Get a Better Education
- Get a Better Job
- Save Money
- Get Fit
- Eat Healthy Food
- Manage Stress
- Manage Debt
- Take a Trip
- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
- Drink Less Alcohol
Everyone wants to run screaming from the idea of voluntarily adding more things to their to-do lists. Any sane person would; Especially when it’s known that 62% of those who make resolutions don’t succeed and that half of all 2015 resolutions have already been forgotten. Now that is disheartening.
Success Looks Like This
There are reasons our resolutions aren’t successful. Most of the time our new year’s goals
- are too large, too broad and have no concrete path forward
- are not spelled out in bite sized chunks
- and haven’t been disclosed to someone who will hold us accountable.
Richard Wiseman at the University of Bristol found that there is 22% greater success in meeting your resolutions when they are set in small, measureable chunks and not in broad, grand statements…like those I mentioned from the US government. Wiseman also says that for women there is an additional 10% improvement in meeting one’s goals if shared publicly. I don’t advocate a public airing in the town square; yet, I do advocate sharing your goal progress with at least one important someone.
How to Do It
I’ve devised a coaching technique for personal goal setting that works with executive clients. I call it The 1, 2, 4, 10 Plan. It’s one you can implement for yourself.
The Plan begins with these ideas:
- Goals need to be manageable and concrete and public
- Improvement requires a vivid, step by step path forward.
1 Year: Begin this year. It’s okay that a few weeks have passed since New Year’s Day. Celebrate that you are not a part of the nearly 50% who have already strayed from their New Year’s resolutions. You’re starting later, but stronger.
I’m an executive coach. My staff members are all coaches; we see a lot of people every day of every week. Most of our clients want to be more effective at work, be happier in their work. They want to move ahead, shed behaviors or actions that aren’t working anymore. Yet, the issues are either not defined or the solutions daunting. They are referred to us.
2 Questions: Ask yourself these 2 questions one at a time.
- What do I want to do better this quarter?
- What do I want to be different this quarter from last quarter?
10 minutes: Bring a laptop or use a pen. It doesn’t matter how you capture your thoughts. For ten minutes, brainstorm with yourself the answers to the two questions. Use a whole 10 minutes for each question. Push yourself to add to your list, think about the differences in each question. Organize the list so the greatest ideas are on top.
1 Trusted Adviser: Share your 2 lists with your trusted one. Talk it over. Then, listen to their thoughts on your ideas. Together pick out the one thing in each list that you both agree is seriously important. Keep it small; resist the urge to upscale the action. Plan to make those 2 things your focus for the quarter. Check in at least quarterly with your trusted one to report your progress.
4 Times: Every quarter of the year ask yourself the same two questions. Spend the same 10 minutes per question, prioritize your answers and share the updated information with your trusted adviser.
Now Do It
For 1 year ask yourself 2 questions 4 times during that year. Spend 10 minutes on the answer to each question and then share it with your most valued trusted adviser. That’s not too much to do. Sounds easy. It is…and it isn’t. Yet, just like the famous Nike commercial you have to… Just Do it!
You can be even more awesome this year than last. You have all of my best wishes for a successful 2015. Call me when you need me.