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As we embark on a New Year, many of us are focusing on what we want to achieve in the next 12 months and what we want to change in our lives or do differently. This is often referred to as making ‘New Year’s resolutions’
What New Year’s resolutions did you make this year? Like many people, you probably started off the year hopeful and determined to make changes that you desire – and you should be commended for that. However, studies have shown that as many as 91 percent of people give up on their resolutions in less than three weeks! We’re now just a few days into the new year, how are you doing so far?
Are you on your way to becoming part of that 91 percent, or are you determined to be part of the 9% that keep going past the end of January?
Most people promise this and declare that, but what is it that determines whether they get what they want? How can you make sure you stay on track? Is there any help out there? It can be hard to stay committed to even the greatest goals you set for yourself.
Follow these 5 steps and you’ll stand a much greater chance of getting the results you want this year. Read through each and then take some time to work through each step.
Stop and pay attention to what has worked for you over the course of last year, no really stop and pay attention, and then write it down! However you feel last year went for you, take some time and take stock of all of the things that went well. List your victories and successes, no matter how big or small. They are all important!
Why? I here you ask. Because our past success are the fuel and motivation for our future ones. The challenge here is that most of us have a tendency to pay more attention to what hasn’t worked out, and this takes us away from all the delicious things that have.
In life we tend to get more of what we focus on, so make sure you start the year as you mean to go on! This year will be a brilliant year the more you focus on what works and then put that into action.
A great next step to moving beyond just thinking and hoping for all you’ve dreamed of is to gain a deeper level of clarity on what it is you truly want out of your life this year. This short exercise can help you do just that:
Once you have developed a deeper level of clarity on where you want to go and what you want to achieve, you now have a really clear target that is written down and tangible. The next step is to begin to create a plan of action.
As you start to develop your plan of action, it is crucial to get the timing right. In my opinion, one of the main reasons many people fail in sticking to their New Year’s resolutions is because they do it at the wrong time of year – mid-winter. It’s very hard to stay motivated when it’s grey and cold outside, the days are short, and … Naturally at this time of year our bodies (and minds) are in slow-down mode, almost a bit like a semi-hibernation. In the natural cycle of the year it is a time of rest, recovery and renewal. So it’s hardly a surprise that so many of us fail when we try to charge off and make major changes. I recommend splitting your plan for the year into 4 phases:
Phase 1: January to March – Planning and preparation. Use this time to really plan and prepare for the changes you want to make over the next 12 months. By all means start the ball rolling, but take it one step at a time and don’t try and achieve too much. If you fall off the horse, don’t give yourself too much of a hard time. Just pick yourself up, recover, and then get back on.
Phase 2: April to June – Get into action. Now that the clocks have changed, the days are longer and brighter, and it’s getting warmer outside, it’s time to really swing into action. Spring is the best time to really kick off the changes you’ve planned for the year. Draw on the energy of the season, and really put some drive and effort behind your goals and objectives for the year and get some real momentum going.
Phase 3: July to September – Stoke the fire. As we come into full summer, it’s important to really stay on track and maintain the momentum you created during the spring. Keep your energy and commitment levels high and keep building on each achievement as a stepping stone to the next.
Phase 4: October to December – Harvest and reap the rewards. Now is the time to really begin to enjoy the rewards of your labour. If you’ve successfully implemented your plan to date you should already be able to look back and see some great progress. Enjoy it, celebrate, give thanks, and begin to wind down for the winter and plan to use that time to rest and recover, ready to repeat the cycle next year. I highly recommend adding the American ‘Thanksgiving’ holiday into your calendar!
Break your plan down into these four phases and have specific tasks, actions and accountability for each.
OK, here comes the toughest part for most of us – sticking at it! It’s time to really commit to making it happen – and you’ll need to re-commit over and over again throughout the year. It’s not just a one off process. We’re all human and we all waver. It’s not about implementing the plan flawlessly, in my opinion that is an unrealistic expectation. What’s important is to keep going. Don’t berate yourself for your failures and slip ups along the way, instead focus on recovery. Pick yourself up and carry on. Get straight back in the saddle so to speak.
My other key bit of advice here is to get help. Buddy up, get an accountability partner, hire a Move Beyond coach (shameless plug I know). Take a look back at my previous post ‘Flying Solo’. Going it alone is rarely the best approach to getting the results you want.
As with Step 1 – keep focused on your victories and successes, not matter how big or small. Set yourself a reward structure for achieving milestones along the way – don’t hold them back until you’ve reached the finish line. You’ll need fuel along the way, so the breadcrumbs approach is best, little and often.
On that note, I want you to really think about what constitutes success, and what constitutes failure. I was chatting to some friends about this the other day and one of them confessed that last year she made a resolution to take vitamins every day, and sadly admitted that she was not successful. I asked her if she took more vitamins than the year before, and watched her eyes brighten as she enthusiastically said “yes” she did. Then it clicked in my mind. I was reminded that success is really all about our perspective. Are we failures if we do not reach our goals 100%, or are we successes because we did better than the year before? The decision is ultimately up to you, but in my experience few people achieve great things by focusing on where they’ve failed.
What’s important is not necessarily achieving every goal you set out to, but knowing that you will make some progress in all of them. And some progress is better than no progress, right? If we set goals and do better than the year before, then we have been successful. If we drink less, smoke less, eat less, spend less, save more, earn more, exercise more, and eat healthier, then we have made positive change. And isn’t that really what it’s all about?
If you are certain you won’t achieve a goal because you have tried and tried again, and maybe you have even given up hope, don’t! Instead try setting a tangible, achievable goal to “do better” than the year before, and see how that goes. It just might turn out pretty good.
“Successful people take big risks knowing that they might fall hard, but they might succeed more than they ever dreamed too…”
~ (Robert Kiyosaki)
“Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try…”
~ (Michael Jordan)
“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to success – not going all the way, and not starting…”
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone…”
~ (Bill Cosby)
“Taking massive action, on massive dreams, amidst massive uncertainties, is pretty much where everyone had to start.
And then things got way easier…”
“A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits…”
~ Richard M Nixon
“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you…”
~ Oprah Winfrey
A professor stood before his Philosophy 101 class. Wordlessly, he picked up a huge, empty mayonnaise jar and filled it with rocks. “Is it full?” He asked the class. They agreed that it was.
So the professor then picked up a box of small pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. “Is it full now?” They agreed it was.
The professor poured a box of sand into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He then asked once more if the jar was full.
The students said yes. The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and emptied them into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children, your friends, and your favourite passions, things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.”
“The pebbles,” he continued, “are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff.”
If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your family and friends. Take your partner out dancing. Play another 18. Take time to get medical checkups. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, mow the lawn, wash the car and fix the waste-disposal.”
“Take care of the rocks first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
At this, one student raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers.”
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“Across corporate America, coaching sessions at many companies have become as routine for executives as budget forecasts and quota meetings.” (Investor’s Business Daily)
The benefits of coaching within organisations has long been established and are highlighted in a recent study conducted by Manchester Inc., which quantifies the business impact of external executive coaching. The study included 100 executives, mostly from Fortune 1000 companies. Organisations that provided coaching to their executives realised improvements in productivity, quality, organizational strength, customer service, and shareholder value. They received fewer customer complaints, and were more likely to retain executives who had been coached. In addition, the investment in providing coaching to its executives realised an average return on investment (ROI) of almost six times the cost of the coaching.
Benefits to companies that provided coaching to executives included – improvements in:
· Productivity (reported by 53% of executives)
· Quality (48%)
· Organizational strength (48%)
· Customer service (39%)
· Reducing customer complaints (34%)
· Retaining executives who received coaching (32%)
· Cost reductions (23%)
· Bottom-line profitability (22%)
Benefits to executives who received coaching included – improved:
· Working relationships with direct reports (reported by 77% of executives)
· Working relationships with immediate supervisors (71%)
· Teamwork (67%)
· Working relationships with peers (63%)
· Job satisfaction (61%)
· Conflict reduction (52%)
· Organizational commitment (44%)
· Working relationships with clients (37%)
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