By Lauren Hopkins, Marketing Coordinator
Not everyone is a fan of New Year’s Resolutions – and for some good reasons. According to a Forbes article, approximately 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. For starters, resolutions are not sustainable because they aren’t structured in a way that allows you to harness your motivation and turn it into an actionable plan to create change. There is an enormous amount of buildup around New Year’s Resolutions and the pressure to keep them, but resolutions are often too unrealistic, too broad, or too vague to be sustained. When people encounter a challenge or failure, they give up without attempting to change their course of action and try again. For most of us, our New Year’s resolutions are long forgotten by the time February rolls around.
Despite all of this, the New Year brings a fresh start and a clean slate, making it an excellent time to set new goals. But to stick to our plans, we need to shift away from the “resolution” mindset to a more reasonable – and therefore, more productive – goal-setting mindset.
What is the difference between a resolution and a goal?
The first step to establishing this mindset is to make sure you understand the difference between a resolution and a goal. A resolution, by definition, is “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” From this definition alone, you can see how resolutions become unreasonable – people either decide they are going to quit something or pick up a new, challenging habit right away, often failing to think through the steps required to reach their end goal – it’s like quitting something cold turkey.
Resolutions are typically based on achieving one of three desired outcomes:
- Addressing something you’ve been avoiding
- Cutting out a bad habit
- Adopting a behaviour or habit that doesn’t come to you instinctively
With resolutions, behaviour change is often required, which people expect to happen easily and quickly. What many don’t realize is that behaviours are more than just simple habits to make or break – a behaviour is built from complex human experiences, personality, emotional and physical needs, psychological and sociological networks, and chemical feedback loops that are beyond our control. Yeah, we know. It’s complicated.
Goals are much more specific and action-oriented, making it easier to create a plan to achieve them. The key to achieving and maintaining goals in the long run is to focus on making incremental improvements and not solely focusing on the final outcome. Achieving goals is a process in which you are meant to learn and grow along the way.
A clear example of effective goal setting’s power can be found in stories of author Stephen King’s early career, detailing his efforts to make a making a living as a writer. In his book On Writing, King shares this quote about his initial attempts: “By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.” King encourages writers to follow his own writing practice, setting the goal of writing 2,000 words per day. He advocates for a focus on consistency, as opposed to trying to become the next great author overnight. King’s short, action-oriented goal, practiced every day, led him to publish 65 novels and achieve heights far beyond his original vision.
Not sure where to start setting your goals?
Look at what you’ve accomplished so far, and create goals based on what you already know you can achieve. This could be over the course of your career, during the time in your current position, or a reflection on the past year, depending on the scope of the goals you plan to set. You’ll most likely be surprised at the list of things you’ve accomplished, the people you’ve met, and the things you’ve learned along the way. From here, decide what you’d like to devote your time, energy and focus to and understand why it’s what you’re choosing to focus on.
We know that to achieve our goals, we need a specific, actionable plan – but what does this mean? Start by breaking your goals down and creating a list of simple, time-sensitive, actionable tasks that are difficult to fail and that can easily be crossed off or updated whenever you feel the need to course-correct. Smaller daily and weekly wins will help you feel a sense of accomplishment and maintain momentum. Setting yourself up for success from the beginning will keep you feeling motivated to push yourself through to the next challenge.
Our Best Tips for Achieving Your Professional Goals:
- Instead of focusing on earning a title or promotion, focus on developing your professional skills, and the rest will follow. PowerUp Leadership’s executive coaching helps clients focus on the magnitude of their contributions and develop the skills required to make a genuine impact on their organizations.
- Find a mentor, or multiple mentors for different situations. Think about what leadership means to you, your strongest leadership qualities, and the qualities you look for in a leader. Find someone who exhibits these qualities and mimic their actions when you can. This doesn’t have to be someone you know personally. Do some research and follow the advice of other leaders but remember to be authentic in your own leadership position – “no one is you and that is your power.” We can help you identify your authentic leadership style through one of the many talent assessments we offer.
- Surround yourself with the best possible people you can. Look around and ask yourself – are these people rooting for me? Are they encouraging me, driving me closer to my ultimate vision? If you feel unsupported, invest in coaching services with PowerUp Leadership – we will always be routing for you and championing your success.
Goal setting can seem overwhelming, but don’t let it stop you. Make 2023 the year you take your life in the direction you’ve always wanted. Remember – old ways won’t open new doors. With that, let’s get to work! Schedule a free consultation appointment here.