Men (and women) should pledge themselves to nothing;
for reflection makes a liar of their resolution. -Sophocles
Sophocles appears to have had a dim view of resolutions. Your own performance may attest to his observation…the commitment to join the gym in January that lasts until February, followed by months of guilt. Our good intentions give way to old habits more quickly than it took to eat that “just one more” Christmas treat!
A new year seems to be a perfect time for a fresh start. As we pin up a new calendar on the wall with no history of missed opportunity, 365 empty boxes that represent all that is possible, we optimistically say, “this year is going to be different.”
Resolving to improve ourselves and our circumstances is hardwired in to the human experience. But often the behaviors and beliefs that keep us back are deep-rooted and unconscious. That includes how we lead ourselves and others as well as how we manage our work.
So what do we do when we want to improve but are reluctant to make resolutions? Follow these three steps to create meaningful goals that have a higher chance of success than a simple “resolution.”
- Narrow your focus. When goals are fuzzy, or we have too many of them, they quickly become overwhelming. Make a list of what you want to improve or accomplish and prioritize it . Chose 1-2 to start with, and wait until you have momentum and some success before adding another goal.
- Gather information. Take some time to research and reflect. Chances are you have some knowledge of your areas of improvement or accomplishment, but could probably benefit from some expert knowledge.
- Do something! Waiting for perfect conditions tends to stall us before we even get started. Break your goals into manageable chunks and milestones and give yourself credit for small wins. Don’t get discouraged when you backslide on your mission – acknowledge it, retool, and get back at it!