Each of use has a mental list of things we’d like to improve, and the New Year seems like a perfect time to start. Many of us resolve to lose weight, reconnect with old friends, or even rediscover a passion. Others determine to go out and find their dream job. When used well, resolutions can be motivational.
Resolutions Miss the Mark
The reality is that resolutions often miss the mark. Once written, we quickly forgot them. The reason is that we tend to emphasize the end state, rather than the process for getting there. Unless we can envision the steps to achieve our goal our motivation quickly wanes. According to writer Jeff Haden, “Commit to a process, not a goal. It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems.” Obviously, the goal is what you want to achieve, but the system is how you plan to get there. If you plan to write a book, you achieve your goal by setting a schedule for writing each day. That’s the system.
Scientific research has shown that in order to reach a goal we are more likely to follow through if our goal is personally meaningful and aligned with our values. According to positive psychologist and author, Robert Biswas-Diener, strengths are the engine that drive our values.
Too, challenging goals are overwhelming unless broken down into manageable steps. Willpower, in and of itself, is not enough to bring goals to fruition. In addition to willpower, you will also need waypower. Peter Gollwitzer, a psychology professor at NYU and expert in goal setting, defines waypower as “implementation intentions.” He makes a distinction between “goal intentions” and “implementation intentions,” which are the specific steps one takes to reach a goal.
Below are steps to help you make your resolution stick:
List five core values and write them in the first person. For example: “I value building and growing teams.” “I value making education more accessible for learning disabled children.” “I value helping people find satisfaction at work.”
Write the first sentence of your resolution. The key is to incorporate your values. Start with something like this –
“What I want to accomplish in this year is” or “I want my legacy to be …” Another possible start is “I believe the world would be a better place if I…”
How are you going to get there? This step focuses on the concrete actions you will take to make your goal a reality. Here are some questions to help you get started –
- What strengths can I put into action to take my next steps?
- What role will I play in bringing this resolution to life?
- Who can help me achieve this?
- What is one step I can take to move forward?
- What do I want to have accomplished a week from now, a month from now?
Don’t belabor your writing with grammatical perfection. The purpose is to get clear on what you have to offer and your plan for getting there.