The New Year is here, and a big one at that! 2020 is not only a fresh new year loaded with possibilities, but it’s the beginning of a new decade. Consider this an even greater opportunity for a clean slate for all facets of life. It’s a time to release fears, inhibitors, attachments to negative thinking and to step over roadblocks, once and for all! There’s plenty of evidence however ー you probably even have some based on your own personal experience ー that New Year’s Resolutions can be very difficult to achieve. Why is this? Why is it so incredibly hard to get out of bed an hour earlier, get your resume updated and emailed out to contacts, get that promotion, or hit milestones in your personal life? If you ask us, it’s typically because the goals we set are too vague and too broad. These tendencies lead to resolutions that are simply too challenging. Even if you’ve made many unattainable resolutions in the past, consider 2020 your chance to learn from your past processes and an opportunity to start the New Year off with balanced, attainable goals that can truly improve your life. Before feeling too down on yourself for not keeping up in the past, remember, you’re not alone! There are quite a few reasons why 80% of resolutions fail by February, but there are just as many ways to re-route and refocus your energy toward the positive changes you’re after.
Let’s break it down…the first step is understanding!
Step One: Understand WHY your resolutions haven’t come to fruition in the past
Think about it for a minute ー there is no right or wrong answer, and you don’t even have to tell anyone. Just be honest with yourself and look within to identify why previous resolutions have been unattainable.
Have you bitten off more than you can chew?
Have you set a vague resolution with no course of action to get there?
Have you set aspirational goals that are realistically out of reach without a winning lotto ticket?
Have you considered the work it takes to get there, and incorporated it into your planning?
Did someone say PLANNING? Argh!! That’s too hard!
If “yes” is your answer to any of the questions above, you’re ready for step two:
Step Two: Re-imagine your resolutions
It’s time to zero in on your resolutions and the larger goals they’re intended to serve. This time, do it through a clear lens and identify the smaller actions needed to really get there ー enter the mircoresolution. If you’re diving into semantics here, stop right now! While using a prefix like micro, you might infer this to mean you’re making your resolutions smaller ー and while in comparison to a lofty, vague and unattainable concept, you are, the purpose of going micro in this context is to distill your goal into more attainable components. These smaller pieces will ultimately serve your bigger, overarching goal(s). Consider going micro a way to draw a road map you can really hold yourself accountable to.
How exactly are you supposed to plot your course?
Step Three: Take action!
Consider the following key words and actions to help you refine your resolutions, and make active moves toward achieving them:
Our favorite word, clarity, is also an essential component of declaring a resolution or setting any kind of goal for that matter. The more specific you can be, the better. Is your resolution concise and clear? Or is it a big, vague idea or theme that challenges your ability to take action due to its magnitude?
How to take action: If your resolution lacks specificity, drill down on it to find its purest form. From there, you can outline steps to actually attain that larger goal through concrete actions. For example, instead of simply “Get a New Job in 2019”, imagine what a road map will look like to get there, and write down the micro-steps to get on the road, such as: Update my resume! Email that recruiter back and set up that call! Create a list of target companies to research! Email your former co-worker who works at one and invite them for coffee! Submit your resume to Clarity! The list goes on…
Eliminate Negative Language
Negative language impacts our behavior and treatment of ourselves. Have you phrased your resolution using negative words, such as, don’t or stop [insert bad habit here]? Consider changing your action to something positive and proactive that will help you eliminate the behaviors you’re zeroing in on and would like to change. As is true in many areas of life, it’s not always about what you say, it’s how you say it that drives results.
How to take action: Say it out loud to yourself in the mirror. Seriously! Reciting your resolution should feel inspiring and encouraging ー like something you can do, and want to do. It shouldn’t feel like a scolding, or cause you to devalue your self-worth. Instead of “Stop being lazy and hitting snooze so many times”, try, “Set alarm 20 minutes earlier in the morning to make extra time in the morning for [insert act of self care].”
Make sure your resolutions are actually something you can take action toward, and you alone. If your goals depend on or include the actions of others, you’re no longer in control of the outcome. If your goal pertains to outcomes you’d like to see at work, in your personal life, or with your friends and family, don’t pin it other people or variables that are constantly changing.
How to take action: Pin it on yourself, and define what you can do to optimize your relationships and encourage behavior you’d like to see in others. Seeking a promotion? Instead of simply resolving to, “Get the [promotion / leadership opportunity / raise / account] I know I’ve earned”, think about how to proactively encourage the topic. Not enough face time with your manager? Start by scheduling a check-in meeting or review ー you don’t need to wait for your manager to arrange an annual if you have something important on your mind. The worst thing we can do is believe that our bosses/managers can read our minds. The truth is, they can’t, and setting goals in how you communicate, and how often, can help set irrational thoughts straight!
Lastly, it’s important to remember that while January and February are peak resolution season for many people, thinking about the micro steps needed to be your best self should be part of a daily routine, all year round. It’s important that we be kind to ourselves, and recognize when something is not working. If you’re not making traction in a particular area after the first few weeks of setting your mind to it, you may need to break your goals down even further. The more you give, the more you’re bound to get, so don’t be too hard on yourself when you finally focus on target and realize it’s harder than you thought to hit. Break down the pieces, take it one day at a time, and the results will follow. A great tip is to enlist an accountability partner. Share your goals with trusted friends and colleagues that can support your efforts and check in with you. Looking at areas of your life you’re not proud of can inevitably cause anxiety, and we totally understand that too. Remember: the feeling of accomplishment breeds future accomplishment, and the same goes for creativity, curiosity, passion, and achievement. One of the best time-tested antidotes to anxiety, especially when it comes to your career, is to take action. So let’s turn those negative feelings, tendencies to compare yourselves to other people, and of feelings of fear into positive outcomes, together, in 2020!
Any tips that really work for you when it comes to goal setting and New Year’s Resolutions? We’d love to hear! Email Serena@claritystaffing.com to share!
On behalf of Team Clarity, Happy New Year to all!