Going for Goal

A New Year's resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere, by which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behaviour, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.

More than half of all resolutions fail. People usually fail in their resolutions between two weeks and a month after making them. They fail because they are not the right resolutions; a resolution may be wrong for one of three main reasons:

  • It’s based on what someone else thinks you should change
  • It is not specific enough
  • You don’t have a realistic plan for achieving your resolution

Instead of a list of resolutions it may be better to try change just one habits at a time, starting with one that creates the most change. Making one small change in your daily routine could make all the difference.

Starting over

Don’t be too worried if you don’t achieve your goal immediately. You can always start over tomorrow, and remember that it takes weeks for new habits to become established. It typically takes 21 days to shift into a new gear, so don't give up! In his bestselling book Psycho-Cybernetics, author Dr Maxwell Maltz says the "human mind takes almost exactly 21 days to adjust to a major life change." Even though his research was originally on traumatic life events, he thinks the principle applies "universally" and works just as well on positive changes.

Oliver Burkeman of The Guardian suggests that it may be more realistic that you should choose something to stop doing. Something worthwhile, that you really don’t have time for; we wear ourselves out being hyper-busy, trying to cope with more than is sensible. Stop, think and address the overload. “Quit your book group; stop struggling to make dates with that hard-to-pin-down friend; accept you’ll never be a good cook. Not because those things are bad; because it’s the only way to do other things well”. In other words, buy yourself some time.

It's important to reward yourself when you reach certain milestones with your resolution. By rewarding yourself, you're giving yourself something to look forward to if you reach the next milestone. Celebrate your small wins, so you program your subconscious brain for continued success. Make sure the reward is appropriate though!

Review, revise, resolve

The start of February is a good time to review where you stand in relation to your New Year resolutions. And to take stock and think about how you might want to revise your career plan for the rest of the year. It’s important to make time to think about your career, a habit that we should all try to develop. A career plan doesn’t have to be set in stone, we change and grow so the plan has to change and flex and sometimes it gets rewritten.

It’s often said that setting goals is much easier than achieving goals, but that’s not necessarily true. Often, at work, we are pressured to devise or accept goals that seem artificial or irrelevant when we want to be left alone to get on with doing the best job we can. Goals need to be meaningful if we are to work any enthusiasm for pursuing them to try to negotiate something that engages your effort and commitment.

There is always room for improvement and it’s a good idea to have a plan, to set some goals but it can feel overwhelming if your end goal feels so far away. Don’t be too hard on yourself, just aim to break your goals down into small, achievable milestones that you can work towards. Every day is a new start, and remember that if you persist, you can achieve whatever you want!

Posted: Monday 11 February 2019

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