The New Year, 2016 is now upon us and so easy to be complacent with our plans, if care is not taken. Yes, it is in January, the first month of the New Year when we all dream of making a fresh start. We often make New Year Resolutions either to lose weight, embark on a new career, give up smoking, start a new business, complete the building of a property, relocate, and the list goes on. The question is – how many of us actually realise our dreams by the end of the year? Some do whilst majority may not, due to some unforeseen contingencies or perhaps out of sheer laziness or lack of focus or inability to be tenacious.
It is important to choose your resolutions carefully and ensure a year of fulfilment by staying committed to your plan which must be reasonable. In management parlance, to realise your goals, you have to adhere to the SMART objectives. That is, your goal will have to be Specific (what do you want to achieve in your area of focus?), Measurable/Meaningful (quantify or at least set indicators of progress), Achievable (what steps are you taking to achieve it?), Realistic (how do you know you can achieve it?) and Timely (by when do you want to achieve it?).
The following are two-stage tips for the year which will help you to realise your goals and objectives by end of year 2016.
Most of the resolutions we choose at the beginning of the year are set up to fail as they may be over-ambitious, tortuously complex, unhelpfully vague and mutually exclusive or simply not worth the effort. Half the trick to achieving your ambitions is to have the right ones in the first place. There is a better chance of accomplishing your resolutions by having them in the following titbits.
- Set flexible goals. Goals that stretch but do not strain. If your goals seem daunting, break them down into smaller ones, e.g. one per month.
- Decide on just few priorities. Prioritise and focus on two or three goals and achieve them. Think about the benefits accruing if you do achieve your goals and the consequences, if you do not.
- Plan how much time is needed. We tend to underestimate how long something will take us to do ourselves because in our imagination, everything should be plain sailing, until when faced with reality. However, when we estimate for someone else, we anticipate possible pitfalls and so much more accurate. To get a reliable sense of how much of your time these goals are going to take, work them out in detail, base it on your own past experiences or ask a friend to challenge your estimates. Take into consideration your varied roles in life – as a parent, team leader, consultant, cook, chauffeur, gym enthusiast etc. What percentage of your time is spent in each role? This exercise will help you to understand the results. Therefore, decide on which resolutions are really worth pursuing.
- Visualise the journey. Find somewhere comfortable, relax and close your eyes. Imagine you have achieved your goal. Now work backwards in your mind through all the steps that you took to get there. The more you have thought about what the journey will involve, the better prepared you will be able to deal with the unexpected on the way.
Mid – End of Year Stage
Getting off to a good start is half the challenge. It is vital to maintain your momentum throughout the year.
- Review and refresh the goals. Put your review moments in your diary to see how you are doing against your goals and to check that they are still the right ones. If you are bored, create new challenges. If you are stressed, reduce the stretch on existing ones.
- Celebrate successes. Just because you have not achieved the big goal does not mean that you have not achieved anything. There is an adage that says ‘once there is life, there is hope for great and mighty things to happen’. Celebrating the mini-milestones is an acceptable approach to encourage yourself of how much progress you are making.
- Learn from setbacks. Some things are sure to go wrong as they may be beyond your control. Instead of being discouraged, perceive them as a source of new information that will make you more capable of tackling challenges ahead. Heroes build from past mistakes.
- Do the things that will have the most impact. It is easy to get involved in doing many things without doing the right ones. This is a form of procrastination called ‘action illusion’. Instead, decide on what is likely to make the most impact towards achieving your goal.
- Bring others on your mission. Depending on your New Year Resolutions, identify what other people’s interests are and if they would add value to yours. See if there is a way of involving them with yours. Friends, relatives or business/work associates could commit to part of the ‘journey’ but if your resolutions are mutually rewarding, they could be part of the whole goal.
- Be generous with the credit for your achievements. The more other people feel they are gaining from your successes (even if your life is inspiring), the more their involvement will be in your life. They will want to continue to make contributions. Everyone wants to be part of a success story. No one wishes to be identified with failure.
- Delegate. We all know that it is impossible to do everything. It is therefore advisable to engage in ‘capability delegation’. This means that you assist other people to become adept at a particular task and which will make them become better equipped to take on similar challenges in future.
- Watch out for distractions. Make a decision based on what is in your best interest.
- Use rest to recharge. High achievers tend to use their relaxation time to achieve even more. They find time to re-energise themselves by taking part in (for example) sporting activities. Purposeful relaxation can be invigorating (e.g. signing up for a salsa dance class). However, what may seem like a pointless relaxation such as taking a gentle stroll in the park, can be even more revitalising.
- Forgo instant gratification. The odd treat (e.g. for those trying to lose weight) is one thing, but those who look only for the path of least resistance, are less likely to experience the deeper joy of achieving something difficult.
Hopefully, these few tips will help you to achieve your goals for the year. Wishing you all the best throughout the whole year.
Anne-Funmi Fatusin is a Management Consultant and a member of the Toastmaster International Club. Also a Freelance Journalist & Convener of Renewing African Mindset (RAM) – a forum for discussing social issues – based in the UK. ©January 2016