It’s time once again for setting New Year Resolutions. Of course the usual ones rise to the surface: Lose weight; get in shape; spend more time with family, etc. Then there are business resolutions: More effective time management; better relationships with coworkers; keeping personal matters separate from work; increasing productivity. The intentions are always good. The follow-through and success is not as certain.
The problem with resolutions is that most of them are forgotten by Valentine’s Day. There are several reasons for this.
1) The goals are fuzzy – not clearly written.
2) The goals do not have a plan attached to them.
3) No accountability system is put in place.
"I want to lose more weight" is fuzzy goal. How much weight? “I want to spend more time with the kids.” Again, not measurable. “I want to earn more money.” Same problem.
Clarity comes when these resolutions become measurable. How much weight? How many hours per week with the kids? What specific activities with the spouse? How much money?
Some items may be hard to quantify, such as improving relationships with coworkers. In these cases you need to create a realistic plan for specific actions that lead to the overarching resolution. This means taking your thinking to the next level.
For example, in the “better relationships with co-workers” resolution, you might break it down in terms of specific behaviors, such as: “When someone displays a heated temper, I will act like a hired counselor, look at them calmly and say, ‘Sounds like you feel pretty strongly about that.’"
Quantifying how you keep your personal matters separate from work can also be difficult, and also works best by thinking on the next level. Plans here may include coming up with a catch-phrase to use if someone asks about a personal situation, then make that catch-phrase a standard response, such as, “I’m sorry – that’s a personal matter that I don’t want to get into here at the office."
The other side of having a plan is considering both the strengths and the weaknesses of your plan. For example, in the above illustration, it may be that you’ll need to talk with someone about any personal problems you may be having, so be sure to include in your plan an action for contacting someone away from work that has your best interest at heart.
Something else I always encourage people to do is to visualize yourself doing what it is you want to be doing. The success you achieve in your mind’s eye is a powerful motivator as well as great way to rehearse. If you can see yourself doing something, your chances of success in reality go up.
One more thing about creating a plan: Setting a deadline is the component most often neglected. In our New Year’s Resolutions, it’s easy to say, “By the end of this year….” But a year is a really long time! Break your resolution down into smaller, bite-sized chunks that are more easily attainable. This gives you early feelings of success and motivates you to keep going. Great benefits!
Finally, the topic of accountability cannot be stressed enough. Just this weekend I spoke with a man named Mark who said he was good at getting stuff done as long as he knew he had to report to someone about it. But if it was “just him,” he often procrastinated and sometimes blew things off.
Don’t get macho on me and say you don’t need accountability. Corporate executives often use personal and professional coaches for accountability partners. Top drawer athletes stay accountable to their teams’ coaches. Business owners stay accountable to their CPA’s. Accountability is a powerful thing that helps us all stay on track for what it is we say we want to do. As the book says, “No Man is an Island.”
Share your resolutions with someone and ask this person to help you be accountable. Set up regular meetings and write them into your appointment books. Together, make sure your resolutions are clear and each goal has a plan. Who knows? By Valentine’s Day you may have already accomplished a lot.