Did you set New Year’s resolutions for your career? If so, I want to help make sure you keep them! In my most recent segment on Fox 31 Denver’s Good Day Colorado, I share 6 simple strategies for success. Watch the video below.
I don’t want to scare you but…brace yourself…we’re in the final stretch of 2012!
(Cue screams of horror and outrage)
It’s now officially “Q4” and you know what that means: The holidays are just around the corner. And we all know that after Halloween, the days slip by like sand through our fingers until about a week after New Years. Yep. Before you know it, we’ll be writing 2013 on our checks.
Okay. Breathe. Don’t panic. You got this, man!
To help you feel a little more in control and ensure you get the most out of the final days of 2012, here are three questions to ask yourself:
1. What have I accomplished so far?
Go on, celebrate! You deserve it. We’re ten months in and I bet you’ve made some progress on those goals you set back in January. Pull out your list and make note of your victories. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
All too often, we focus solely on the future or the things that haven’t worked out. But take a few minutes to lovingly praise yourself for the recent past. Sure, you probably have a few things that could have gone a little better. But thankfully, you’re not perfect. (How boring you’d be if you were!). This exercise of celebrating your progress, no matter how big or small, will give you a nice boost of energy and motivation–two things that tend to dwindle this time of year.
2. If I had to choose just two priorities for the rest of the year (one personal and one professional), what would they be?
Now is the time to narrow things down. It’s easy to set monstrous goals in January as you look out at the long year ahead of you. But we’re getting down to the wire here. What really matters? What can wait? Scratch things off or postpone them. Focus on the two things that will make you look back on the year with a true sense of pride and accomplishment. Remember that priorities change naturally with time so don’t feel bad about adjusting your outlook for the year. Make these last three months count!
3. What intention do I want to set for the next three months?
Right now, you have the power to create a powerful and positive vision for the holiday season. What do you want it to be like? Stressful, financially draining and anxiety-ridden? Or peaceful, fun and productive? I’m guessing the latter sounds more appealing to most of you. Define what you want and what you can do (starting now!) to make it happen. Give yourself the tools you need to remain positive and energized for the rest of the year.
For me, this means I need to recommit to my yoga practice and focus on staying healthy even with all the travel I’m doing. My plan is to spend the month of December relaxing with family and working on my book (yes, a book!!). To do this, I need to wrap up a few big projects by the end of November and save a bit so I don’t feel anxious without money coming in.
See how easy it is? Just a few moments of thoughtful consideration can have a huge impact on how the next three months play out and how 2012 goes down in your personal history book.
Spend some time mulling over these questions and leave your answers in the comments below. Nothing helps create commitment like a little public accountability!
Photo Credit: Texas Photo Wrangler (Flickr)
Here’s a lesson I’m still learning: Changing your mind isn’t the same as giving up.
As most of you know, I’m kind of a goal junkie.
But recently, I’ve had to make some…corrections. And it’s been hard. In many ways, it makes me feel weak. Like I’ve failed. But I realized this morning that I’ve been looking at it the wrong way. I’ve been acting like “changing my mind” is the same as “quitting.”
And it’s not.
You see, changing your mind is YOUR RIGHT. No one can take that from you.
The trick is not to be fickle. Give your decision the thought and attention it deserves. But give yourself the freedom you deserve.
Here are a few questions to consider before changing your mind:
1. What’s Changed?
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Circumstances change, priorities shift. The world as we know it never stands still. At times, your choices have to adjust accordingly.
Think of it this way: If you’re planning to quit your job and go back to school, and then your spouse is suddenly laid off, you almost have no choice but to at least consider changing your mind. (In most cases and for most people this would cause some major reconsideration.)
It doesn’t mean the goal of going back to school has to disappear completely. It just might need to be adjusted in some way. The timeline would shift, perhaps.
Or maybe YOU are the one that’s changed. Maybe what used to be right no longer resonates. Maybe you’ve grown in an unexpected direction.
Now, it’s also important to recognize when the thing that’s changed is good old-fashioned fear disguising itself. That happens a lot. Fear has a clever way of convincing us that we can’t do things. It tricks us into thinking we never really wanted to in the first place. So be careful and be honest. If fear is what’s holding you back, pause for a moment. Typically, decisions made out of fear tend to backfire. Don’t change your mind just yet. You might feel stronger tomorrow. (This has happened to me many, many times and I’m always grateful when I follow this advice and simply pause.)
2. What Is Your Heart Telling You?
The process of changing your mind doesn’t only happen in your head. As a human being, you are filled with infinite wisdom. It’s there inside you. All you have to do is listen.
I wrote about emotions and their impact on decision-making recently. You see, sometimes, your brain is able to connect the dots of the information it receives in a way that’s so subtle, it’s not even understood by the conscious brain. It’s simply translated into a “feeling” instead.
So stop and listen. What is your heart saying? What is your body saying? Respect what you hear.
3. What Have You Learned?
The act of starting something—whether a project, a goal, a job, a New Year’s resolution or anything else—is a learning process in itself. Shifting course and “ending” something is just as valuable a lesson.
What do you know now about yourself (and about the world around you) that you didn’t know before? What, if anything, will you do differently next time? How will this experience and this decision change you?
As I’ve said before, this kind of thing isn’t “giving” up, it’s growing up. So focus on the growth and don’t beat yourself up. Course correction is a part of life. Few things move in straight, unobstructed lines.
I’m a big believer in setting goals. After all, how can you expect to “get” anywhere without first having a clear idea of where you want to go?
Only, the problem with goals is that achieving them isn’t always all its cracked up to be.
How so, you ask? Well, here are three common experiences (I know them well) and what you can learn from them.
1. “Wait. This isn’t how I thought it would be.”
Sometimes, when we set a goal, we create an almost dreamlike idea of what life will be like once that goal is achieved.
Everything will change! The world as we know it will shift! I’ll be a brand new person!!
And then, once you reach the finish line, you realize it’s not exactly what you pictured.
Author and Zen Buddhist, Brad Warner, describes this phenomenon in his book, Hardcore Zen:
Once we achieve our goals, when our dreams become real, we see that they aren’t quite as thrilling or as fulfilling or even as interesting as we’d imagined them to be.
Personal Example: My goal to become self-employed. It took me about four years to get to the point of being fully on my own, and I love it. But it’s nothing like what I expected. Some days, I look back and wonder if I would do it again knowing what I know now. (Yes, I think I would…most days….)
Lesson: Keep a realistic perspective. Don’t convince yourself this is the one key element that will make everything else fall perfectly into place. Life is more complicated than that. Don’t create an impossible vision of the future. Remember, it’s not about the destination; it’s the journey. Focus on the process of reaching your goal and the joy that comes with progress.
2. “Oops. I think I’ve changed my mind.”
Often, we put so much time and love and energy into reaching our goals, we forget to check in along the way. Instead, we just keep pushing forward, focusing on the end result, and we never stop to really make sure that the goal still resonates.
As human beings, we’re constantly growing and evolving. So it only makes sense that our goals may tend to shift over time as well. All to often, we get caught up in the “race to the finish.” We don’t give ourselves the gift of reflection or a moment to breathe. It’s like we’re on autopilot, aiming straight for that goal, no matter what.
Personal Example: My goal to go to become a nutritionist. I think about halfway through nutrition school, I “knew” (on some level) it wasn’t for me anymore. It might have been a good fit in the beginning, but I had changed. However, because I made the commitment and things were rolling full-steam ahead, I never stopped to think it over. I never asked myself, “Is this still really what you want?” Instead, I kept on pushing. Only once it was finished and my goal was reached did I realize how little I cared.
Lesson: Look up. Stay focused on your goal but don’t put on blinders. Question your motives along the way. Make sure it still makes sense. If and when it’s needed, give yourself permission to course correct.
3. “Okay. Now what?”
This last one is very common, particularly amongst over-achievers. We hit one goal and head on to the next. We never take time to celebrate our success.
Sometimes, by the time we get to our goal, we don’t even care anymore. Our sights are set on something else entirely. So “this” goal is old news. Yawn. Who cares?
Personal Example: Um…well…like everyday of my life! I’m incredibly guilty of this. I have to force myself to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. It seems like life moves so fast; I don’t want to waste a minute. I’m always trying to “step up” my game. Of course, the problem with this is that I’m never really satisfied. I’m never simply content. That’s a horrible way to live! So I’m actively trying to break this pattern by living more in the present moment.
Lesson: It’s great to always be looking ahead, but reaching a goal deserves a little acknowledgment. Stop and pat yourself on the back. Appreciate everything you went through to get to this point. Don’t discount how far you’ve come just because you’ve got the next step in mind.
Have you ever experienced these kinds of things after achieving a goal? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
This is a small segment pulled from a webinar I did at the beginning of the year where I provided tips for helping you keep your New Year’s resolutions.
If you need a little assistance putting together SMART goals, this video breaks it down quickly and provides step-by-step instructions to turn an abstract “resolution” or “dream” into a concrete action-oriented goal.
I know the title of this article assumes the worst in you and maybe that’s not fair. But let’s be honest here. Statistics show that, right now, about half of you have already given up on your New Year’s resolution. And, in another few weeks, half of the people left will have forgotten all about it as well. It’s not that I don’t have faith in you. It’s the research. How can I argue with math?
So, should you happen to realize that your New Year’s resolution has fallen by the wayside (now or in the future), don’t beat yourself up. You’re not alone! There are several common reasons this happens. Instead of getting down and thinking of this as a “failure“, focus on figuring out what happened. Do some analysis and find ways to ensure that, in the future, things will be different.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of the top eight reasons people don’t follow through on their resolutions and I’ve also provided some tips to make next time more successful. And by the way, “next time” doesn’t necessarily mean January 1, 2012. You can make a resolution any time you’d like. Just sayin.
1. You didn’t make a plan for it.
A lot of people forget that a resolution is really just a GOAL. It has to be treated as such. It doesn’t have additional superpowers just because it starts on January 1. A goal requires structure. Otherwise, it’s a wish.
Next time: Be proactive. Make your plan. Look for possible obstacles and prepare for how you’ll deal with them. Don’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best.
2. You forgot the reasons why you were doing it.
Motivation matters. If you don’t know why the goal is important, it’s easy to drop.
Next time: Clarify exactly why you’re doing this, why you NEED to do this. Write it down. Post it in visible locations. Create small reminders to help keep you focused when times get hard.
3. You didn’t plan for setbacks.
Let’s face it: No one is perfect. We all fall off the wagon at some point. You need a clearly defined plan for what to do when this happens and how you’ll get back on that horse.
Next time: Recognize that things will get hard and unexpected obstacles will get the better of you. That’s no reason to give up completely. Give yourself some leeway. Find ways to forgive yourself and reignite the passion.
4. You didn’t have a strong support network.
Friends and family are important. They can help raise you up or push you down, depending on the nature of the relationship. With any goal, it’s important to surround yourself with people who believe in what you’re doing and want to see you succeed.
Next time: Gather your groupies! Let them know what you’re doing and why and ask if you can count on them to help you reach your goal. If they’re not supportive, keep them at a distance. Who needs toxic relationships anyway?
5. You took on too much too fast.
Many of us get a little over-zealous around the New Year. We want to make huge leaps of progress overnight, but real growth is a slow and steady journey.
Next time: Take it one step at a time. Go in with reasonable expectations and be patient. It’s not about how much you achieve and how quickly. Focus on one, really important goal. Put one foot in front of the other each and every day. Momentum will naturally build as you make incremental improvement.
6. You weren’t accountable to anyone.
Sure, you wanted to succeed. But, in the dark of night when you’re all alone, it’s easy to get persuaded by that nagging negative voice inside your head. You know the one. The voice that says you’re not cut out for this. An accountability partner helps keep you focused and on track, even when you think you’re ready to throw in the towel.
Next time: Find one person who promises to hold you accountable. When you say you’re going to do something, this person follows up to make sure you’ve stayed true to your word. An accountability partner will help silence the saboteur in your head. (And of course, if you need assistance, I’d love to help out.)
7. It wasn’t that important in the first place.
Perhaps you set a goal that others wanted you to set. Or one you felt you “should” set. That’s not very motivating. It’s easy to give up on something that never really mattered that much to you in the first place.
Next time: Choose a goal that matters. Don’t do it for anyone else but YOU. If it’s not something you truly believe in, you’ll never succeed.
8. You’re afraid of success.
This sounds counter-intuitive, I know. Truth be told, a lot of goals sound great in theory but once you actually start thinking of what life will be like once it’s accomplished, fear can easily set in. Sometimes, we’re so attached to who we are and life as we know it—flaws and all—that we unconsciously sabotage ourselves.
Next time: Be prepared for this. Recognize that fear is just another part of the process. Think long and hard about what you want from life and what you’re capable of. While it’s scary to push past your pre-conceived limits, it’s also a necessary part of self-growth. Use fear to fire yourself up.
So happy New Year everyone! Oh, and in case you need a reminder, you’re awesome. Anything you want, you can achieve. I have faith in you, no matter what the stupid research says about stupid New Year’s resolutions.