Think through before you make a resolution. Why are you making it? Your reasons for making it should be very clear
Many of us make resolutions but don’t think through what changes we will have to make in the rest of our lives to stay the course
After reading my last column on New Year Resolutions for HR, many readers reached out to me and said that it was all well and fine to make resolutions but how do you stick to them? A few weeks into 2014, I am certain many of us are struggling to keep up with the resolution we made or are already racked with guilt after breaking our New Year resolution.
There is a lot of debate on whether these resolutions are worth the trouble. New Year is just another day – what is all the fuss about?? Our life doesn’t change from the 31st to 1st, does it? (Except of course the hangover effect sets in if you had a rocking party!) .
I personally feel the New Year brings with it a sense of hope: There is a spring in the step, a glitter in the eyes and a desire to ensure that we work towards making the next 12 months better and bigger. My perspective on resolutions – they are good, a fresh start for a change. It is done with the understanding that something has to change and the first step towards that is being made at the beginning of a New Year when there is a buzz, a newness that is inexplicable! It is a great feeling to start afresh, be it stopping something or starting something.
On the first day back to work in the New Year, as I walked around the office to wish colleagues and team members, I decided to quickly check on whether people made resolutions and if yes, what resolutions people had made. Here is a quick summary of what I heard…
- An overwhelming 52 per cent had weight loss or leading a more active lifestyle as a resolution. Running seemed to be everyone’s favorite. A colleague said it well “this year is the year of more moving and less sitting”.
- Another 20 per cent wanted to stop something like consuming alcohol, chocolates etc.
- Another 21 per cent had workplace goals like “I will work less, I will be on time for meetings, I will be a more nurturing leader, I will be very focused on professional goal improvement”.
- The rest were too fragmented to categorize but I recall many did have a lot of “I would like to travel more” resolutions!
While we have heard many of the above before, what caught my attention was an interesting resolution: “This year I am going to stop saying Yes to everyone”. Wow! That’s a new one, I thought. Another colleague shared how she had actually done a quick survey with her team. The survey was quick – Two things to stop, start and continue! I believe she received some very valuable feedback.
Resolutions indeed make for interesting reading and conversation! But how many will stick to their resolutions? Going by experience, most will break it within the first week and the remaining by the end of the month. This brings us to the question: Is there a way to make the resolution stick?
Yes, there are some simple ideas that can help us stay the course. I am sure there are many more tried and tested ideas out there, the below are based on personal experience and from what I have heard has worked for near and dear ones.
Idea 1: Define the WHY
Think through before you make the resolution, why are you making it? The WHY has to be clear, and it cannot be that everybody else is making one, so will I. For instance, the colleague who wanted to quit alcohol was having weight and wallet issues. His/Her why was very strong and clear.
Idea 2: Define success and milestones
‘I want to do’ statements are akin to ‘I want to play football’ without goal posts. Define success, for example a promotion by year Y, reduction in weight from X to Y and increase in savings to Z Rs are tangible goals. While these are end goals, please do also think through milestones that make you feel good. For example, before a promotion, a monthly award or an additional project could be a milestone to achieve. Likewise, 500gms loss in month 1 is a good enough milestone!
Idea 3: Find a buddy
It is a proven fact that gym goers who have a buddy tend to stay at it longer than people who go at it alone. The biggest strength and hurdle to keeping our resolutions are our friends. They will either always tempt you with “one bite of chocolate cake” or “oh! C’mon one drink” or say “what’s this new avatar of yours, you were better off in the earlier one”! In such cases, turn a deaf ear, else you will fail. Be gentle, be firm and if need be find other company! Getting into a group that is trying the same is a sure fire way of staying the course. On the other hand, having a buddy who will call out when you slip helps. Can you trust somebody to tell you to your face that you are breaking your resolution? If yes, you have a greater chance at success and this is a buddy for keeps.
Idea 4: Keep a journal
Seems tedious and old school but writing that journal everyday really helps. The journal becomes your conscience, your record keeper and sounding board. Write about everything, what you feel, who said what, did you give in that just once! This is a great way to understand yourself better and be honest while trying to keep the course.
Idea 5: Don’t be too harsh on yourself, make room for an aberration or two
Despite the best intentions, we all will succumb and have that one drink, that one bite of cake, that one rude comment made etc. It’s ok, feel bad about it, record it in your personal journal but get back on course. Don’t let that one slip convince you that you can’t do it. It is a mere aberration. Accept you made it, figure out why you did and move on!
Idea 6: What will you change?
Many of us make resolutions but don’t think through what changes we will have to make in the rest of our lives to stay the course. It could be the company we keep, the time we get up, our commute to office etc. For example, the colleague who asked for feedback on what to change received advice that they were very curt in their dealings. Now, just resolving to be nice will not help. Understanding why they are curt and fixing the underlying reason is key to success. In this case, the person realized that they had a lot on their plate and hence did not have time to have nurturing conversations. This way he/she was focusing on the essential. Unless they decide to come in early or say no to some work, they will never be able to get out of this “curt” trap.
Idea 7: Establish a routine
Can the change become a part of your schedule? If you want to leave at 6pm every day to spend time with your children, can you mark it on your calendar? If you want to go to the gym at 6am every day, can you weave it around your daily schedule? You want to be seen as a nurturing leader, can you schedule ones with your team every month and make it happen?
Am certain, if you implement these seven ideas you will be thanking me by the end of this year.
Start with resolving to use one or two of the above ideas initially…You will be surprised with how making one small change happen invigorates you and sets you for success for even bigger things in life.
Like they say the road to hell is paved with noble intentions. Let this year be the year of converting intent to action, leading to results. Happy New Year and here’s wishing you success with your resolutions.