When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, which are you?
- The eternal optimist, who overpromises and underdelivers, with most of your planned improvements failing to make it past the first two weeks of January?
- The cynic, who treats the whole thing with disdain – New Year is just another sunset and sunrise, after all?
- Somewhere in between – you want to make meaningful changes, but find that your success varies year upon year?
The New Year offers an ideal opportunity to take stock and invest time and attention in ourselves and our goals. But how do we ensure that we are setting realistic goals to instil long-lasting changes, rather than jumping on bandwagons and then feeling that inevitable sense of disappointment afterwards?
We all have the potential for change, and we’re hard-wired to pursue new goals.
First, to address the cynics. Even if it is just another day on the calendar, setting and pursuing goals drives advances in all areas of our personal and professional lives and is crucial to our wellbeing. It’s ‘the language of the brain’ and it sets us apart from other animals who act on instinct alone, according to Psychology Today.
Pursuit of our goals gives us purpose and activates our brain’s pleasure centres. Also, embracing the possibility of change and improvement is part of a growth mindset – it encourages adaptability and helps us to see beyond our present circumstances.
It starts with you.
Many New Year’s Resolutions fall by the wayside because you assume a different ‘you’ – one who won’t balk at the idea of getting up an hour earlier or won’t be tempted to procrastinate. If you ignore the characteristics of the central protagonist (yourself) when resolving on change, you can unwittingly set yourself up to fail.
"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."
Setting out clear, achievable goals starts with understanding ourselves – and it’s a reciprocal relationship. Identifying and working towards goals enhances our self-awareness; enhanced self-awareness increases our chances of setting and meeting realistic targets.
Keep it positive.
We all thrive on encouragement and reinforcing positive behaviours – this provides the most secure foundation for change and growth. If you can begin by recognising your strengths and celebrating what you already do well, you’ll be in a stronger position to tackle new challenges, rather than operating from a standpoint of negativity or uncertainty.
Find people to help you steer.
But what if you don’t know where to start? Or what if you’re starting from false assumptions? We each have an image of ourselves, which may be at odds with how others see us. The lens through which we see our own lives can distort our perspective on the relative importance of goals and cloud our judgement when setting objectives.
We may hold aspirations based on faulty self-perception, which take us off in entirely the wrong direction and lead to disappointment. Consider a subject specialist who wants to manage their own team, for example. The goal can be set, but is it realistic and desirable? Is the aspiration based on an understanding of their strengths and abilities, or is it simply seen as the next step, regardless of the attributes of the person in question? Will they excel in the role – and appreciate it – when they get there?
Other people might hold the clues that help us steer a more fulfilling course, so that we enjoy both the journey and the destination.
"Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us."
Belbin is one way of increasing your self-awareness in a professional context, by identifying the kind of contributions you make. Asking others around you for feedback provides a learning opportunity which might uncover latent talents and skills that inform your self-development plans.
Share your goals and increase your chances of success.
Goals aren’t all about the individual – they can help build relationships too. We can seek out others who want to work towards the same objective, hold others accountable, ask for feedback and encouragement, and derive inspiration from those who have achieved the goal before us.
Where a team needs to work towards a shared goal, success is most likely when those shared goals are aligned with individual goals. So, it’s important to find out (rather than assume you know) what each person in the team is working towards.
Are you the cynic, the optimist or the realist? What are your New Year’s Resolutions for yourself and your team? Let us know!
Contact us to see how we can help you find you in 2021! [email protected] or just phone: 01223 264975