New Year’s Resolutions are often a standard topic of conversation in January. Regardless of the timing or the reason, there is never any harm in a bit of stock-taking. As my previous blog suggested, looking in that rear view mirror helps to check where you have come from, but once you have done this I strongly recommend turning ASAP to face the front. Too much time spent looking backwards and you could fall flat on your face. There’s a very good reason why your car windscreen is far larger than the rear view mirror. Focus on what’s ahead, not what’s behind you – something I remind my 3-year old whenever she’s riding her scooter!
Here are our top 10 questions to help you maximise your success in the year ahead:
- What did I not achieve last year that I still want to achieve this year? I think it is fair to say that most people are quite hard on themselves. If we have gone to the trouble to define some personal or professional goals, and then don’t quite hit target or the timescale, that can make us feel like quite the failure. Wherever possible, pick yourself up, dust yourself down, recognise and learn from the reasons and move on. Keep moving forward.
- Where do I want to be at the end of this year? What does success look or feel like? Mood boards and self-visualisation are just two of many methods to support you as you move towards your goals. Elite athletes often use visualisation techniques to drive their competitive edge and kick-start their own mental awareness, well-being and confidence. Check out a previous blog we wrote on a goal-setting framework that will help you achieve your desired outcomes.
- What performance metrics do I need to achieve, if I want to achieve the outcomes I have set? Performance-based goals render you less exposed to any external factors. They allow you to benchmark or measure your progress towards the outcome. In the case of elite athletes, setting a Performance Goal of running a Personal Best (PB) time in competitions is something they have relatively greater control over than the colour of the medal they win – because they have far greater control over their own performance than that of their competition.
- What steps do I need to take in order to achieve these goals? In considering your actions, begin with the end in mind and work backwards to establish not just what needs to be done but by when. Without overcomplicating things, also consider any inter-dependencies (or dependencies on others) that might enable or hinder your progress.
- What lessons from last year can I take with me this year? Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Use it wisely to shape the path you continue to take and embrace the change ahead. As Henry Ford famously said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”.
- What values do I want to uphold? What kind of a role model do you want to be? In this ever watchful world we inhabit, little poor behaviour goes unnoticed. If you believe in karma (which I definitely do), it could come back to bite you in the future. Set the tone. Be authentic. Bring your whole self and live your values every day, both inside and outside of work. You’ll be judged by your actions, not your words.
- How do I want to feel this year? Ok, maybe this is a bit of a red herring. Obviously we ALL want to feel amazing all the time. But can you be more specific? Maybe your creative juices aren’t really flowing at the moment, maybe you need to feel more inspired – if so, what ideas can you come up with to get you feeling more inspired?! Or maybe you want to feel less tired or more present around your kids, so setting yourself (and enforcing!) the goal of ensuring a digital curfew, or an earlier bedtime would really help you to feel better than you do today.
- Who do I want to involve/include/connect with this year? As you will have probably noticed, professional networking is pretty popular these days, whether via LinkedIn or other routes. There may be people in your wider network who could support you in achieving your goals, and vice versa. Who are they and how do you want to engage with them?
- How can I push myself outside my comfort zone? High performers don’t stagnate, they focus on continuous improvement. “As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.” — Robin S. Sharma. Be specific around any new skills, activities or ways of working that you’ll need to adopt in order to succeed this year.
- What else do I want to learn / achieve this next year? Health and wellbeing is massively underrated and underutilised particularly in professional goal setting but it doesn’t take much to add this to your list. You only get one life and who knows what curve balls the year ahead has in store for us all?! Being mentally prepared and mentally balanced can only lead to reduced stress and ultimately increased happiness. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness, eating clean, improving physical fitness and digital detoxing – all high on my list for this year.
If you manage to pull together an action plan with goals and objectives of all the good you are aiming for this year, then congratulations is in order! But keep it (relatively) simple. As with all these things, an all-singing, all-dancing laminated colour-coded plan with SMART goals/objectives that gathers dust is of no use to anyone and will not help you achieve a darn thing. Put reminders in your calendar to regularly review your goals and check you are on track. Hold yourself accountable to those around you and commit. In times of rough waters, be sure to reset your course if appropriate and of course make sure that you celebrate the small successes along the way.
Wishing you all a happy and successful year ahead!