This third week of January is a great opportunity to determine if our New Year’s resolutions are serving us well or if they, perhaps, could use a revamp. In this four-part series, we will 1) assess our progress and 2) investigate as to why we may, or may not, have made the progress we would like. Then, we will 3) adjust our resolutions and 4) recommit to the results we desire. Remember, this is still the New Year!
Before we begin, let’s check our self-judgment at the door. Our resolutions are often very personal in nature. We identify a habit or way of thinking we want to change, and we perceive our bad habit as a reflection of our character or “who we are.” The emotions we have about “being this way” are the first barriers to creating successful change. Dale Carnegie training methodology states that a performance change, or the result we want to see, is a combination of an emotional change and a behavioral change. And it doesn’t matter whether the emotional shift or behavioral shift comes first. The results we want are not character driven—they are behavior driven. So, let’s stop being hateful to ourselves if we haven’t stuck with our resolutions! The negativity doesn’t help in the slightest, and maybe we just haven’t stuck with them yet.
Step One: Assess
First, let’s assess our progress. If everything is going well, we can congratulate ourselves, keep up the great work, and then ask, “Was my resolution challenging enough for me?” Our goals should be challenging enough to require significant or notable levels of effort. If they don’t, we may need to up our game. If we haven’t been able to adhere to our vision for the New Year, let’s ask ourselves a few questions. Writing down the answers or talking them through with a trusted advisor or friend can be a fruitful exercise:
- Did I turn my resolution(s) into specific actions?
- Was I specific about the actions I need to take?
- Did I put these actions in my calendar?
- If I did all of the above and wasn’t able to keep the commitment, why?
- Seriously, why? (The really deep-down why.)
After we answer these questions, we will know if we simply need to be more specific in our planning* or if we initially set a resolution we never actually wanted to keep. Once we know whether it is the former or the latter, we will be ready to begin investigating our resolution.
* Example of specific planning: If our resolution was to be a more thoughtful colleague, we would need to operationalize that goal. How do we turn this into specific actions? We could determine being a more thoughtful colleague means we give two colleagues handwritten notes each month, send an encouraging email to a coworkers each week, and offer to assist a coworker with a project one time each month. We would then put each of these actions in our calendar, assigning a specific time, and length of time, to do them.
Stay tuned for Step Two in the next blog post, where we will investigate our resolution!