Ah, the new year is again upon us. The smell of the unknown coupled with the hope of a better future brings many to make resolutions.
I, like a vast majority of Americans, fail miserably at most of my resolutions by February and therefore typically don’t make New Year resolutions anymore.
Why? Because the motivation of the new year passes. By February, the year is already “old” and I slip back to my ways of years previous.
The interesting part is on occasion I actually stick to a resolution. I did a review of which ones I stayed dedicated to and I found they all have something in common: I knew my “why.”
There needs to be something tangible to focus on when the new year waxes and wanes into the current or old year.
Leaders frequently have to make resolutions to create positive change in their world. Change is never easy and always requires resolve to see through to completion.
This translates to leaders making “resolutions” throughout the year, often with the same result as New Year resolutions.
This doesn’t mean leaders should never make resolutions. On the contrary, they need to make resolutions to be effective in bringing positive outcomes and remaining relevant.
As such, every leader should make the a single resolution regardless of the time of year: before committing to a new endeavor, identify, articulate, and solidify the “why.”
Ask yourself the question “what is the desired outcome?” and then write the answer down.
Avoid using nebulous language such as “be better,” “do more,” etc. and push yourself to outline specific outcomes.
Specific outcomes have SMART components: Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. For example, when attempting to move to a paperless system the SMART components could look something like:
Specific: convert all paper records to an electronic format
Measurable: no more paper files in the cabinets
Achievable: this is an industry standard and is therefore attainable
Relevant: industry standards and customer service goals require this change to occur
Time-based: this will be accomplished by the end of June 2021, as a typical implantation takes 4-5 months
Ask yourself why the desired outcome is wanted and write it down next to the desired outcome. Put these two things on a stickie, or 3x5 card, and put it on your bathroom mirror, or on your car dashboard, or put a daily reminder in your phone that places it before your eyes on a daily basis. This is to consistently be reminded of what you’re after and why you’re after it.
Frequently, something doesn’t become real until you articulate it. Speak it out loud to yourself in the mirror. Try it out on someone who holds your trust. Feel free to hear how it sounds and make any tweaks so that you are comfortable speaking your goals. The more you are comfortable articulating your goals the more ingrained it will be in your psyche, which will make it easier to hold onto when things get tough.
Create accountability; share your plans with someone and ask that they hold you accountable. If that is awkward (which I get), join a group that shares the same goals so you have colleagues with which to walk the path. One reason why some weight loss groups are so successful is because of the accountability created by weekly check ins and counselors on hand for when temptation arises.
Be kind to yourself - you’re going to have a wandering experience with some great days and some “I-definitely-skydived-off-the-wagon” days. Don’t let yesterday speak to today. Solidify your goal by returning to your why and try again the next day.