How to keep your New Year’s Resolutions
Vanessa Prins-Goodman, a member of the Being-Centered Leadership Team, is a psychologist with vast experience in leadership coaching and individual counselling. Her Amsterdam practice, Goodman Coaching, offers leadership coaching for clients working in mid-level management at international companies.
T. S. Eliot wrote that, “to make an end is to make a beginning”. With 2018 ending and 2019 knocking at our doors, many of us resolve to make new beginnings. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines New Year’s resolutions as a promise to do something different in the New Year.
Resolutions show our short- or long-term intentions to improve our lives, either by changing a bad habit, such as eating less, or developing a positive habit, such as spending more time in nature, or accomplishing personal and professional goals, such as buying a new car or getting a promotion at work.
As the year comes to an end, you will probably spend some time reflecting on the past year and you might wonder about your 2018 resolutions. “How many have I kept successfully?” “Which ones have I failed to keep?”
Why do people fail to keep their New Year's resolutions?
If you feel you haven’t done so well, you are not alone. Various statistics show that the most common reason for people failing their New Years' resolutions is because they set themselves too many goals, often unrealistic goals, or do not keep track of their progress.
But in our experience as coaches and consultants, people don’t keep their resolutions because they lack a bigger picture that will sustain their goals: and not because they chose the wrong goals. In other words, they lack a clear vision.
A vision is a desirable image of our future self; an individual perception of how we would like to be at a certain moment in time. A resolution focused on the goal “I want to eat more healthily” does not inspire. But a vision of ourselves being fit and able to run a marathon is highly motivational and leads to goal-directed behaviour.
Does our vision remain the same? No, it changes depending on our living conditions, our needs and our maturity. And this is a natural process. Problems start when our vision is distanced from our authentic self (who we really are) or when it gets blurred because of life's challenges. In fact, the more stressed we are, the more task-oriented we become, and the more we forget to see the whole picture.
As a result, we either divert to a second-choice life path or linger in our current state without making progress in creating our desired future. To be able to navigate the complexities of our life and work, we need to have clarity of our intentions / resolutions, constant focus on what is important and a plan for action.
How to accomplish your New Year's resolutions
So, what we need to do in our New Year's resolutions is to mind the gap between intention and behaviour by establishing a clear vision. Here is some advice to help you stay focused and accomplish your resolutions:
1. Formulate a vision statement
A short (1-2 phrases) aspirational statement of how you see yourself in the near future. It should be about who you want to become and should inspire you. A tip: You know that your vision is a real vision and not just a narrow goal when it aligns with your authentic self. Such a vision is meaning-driven, inner-directed and long-term focused.
2. Craft a mission statement
Determine the path you need to follow in order to realise your vision. A mission statement is an action plan that focuses on how you can best utilise your personal qualities, your values and achievements in order to realise your vision. It also encompasses the perceived costs, benefits, and consequences of possible actions. The mission statement is broken down into specific, small in scope, time-bound, realistic goals that help you keep track of your progress.
3. Conduct a stakeholder analysis
In organisations, we use the term “stakeholders” to refer to all those that have a “stake” or an interest in the organisation, such as employees, shareholders, investors, community… Similarly, in our personal lives, our parents, our children and our partners also play an important role in our decision-making.
Explore who “the important others” are in your life, the challenges you face in meeting or exceeding their expectations, and how their influence impacts your vision and mission statements.
4. Explore your personal mindset
Our mindset encompasses our “way of being” and the core beliefs and values we hold about ourselves, others and life in general. Our mindset is the filter through which we make sense of the world and act accordingly. Unfortunately, we are often unaware of our mindset and how it impacts our life.
What is your mindset? How does it facilitate or block you from attaining your vision? Is your mindset connected to your authentic desires and source of inner strength, or does it prevent you from being who you aspire to be?
Some help required?
Make sure you include the above tools in your New Year’s resolutions! And if you need help to clarify what is worth including in your resolutions’ list and to establish a plan on how to attain them, you can always contact a professional coach to help you out.
The Being-centered Leadership Team is a team of three professionals with different personalities, diverse fields of expertise and experience that supports personal and organisational transformation worldwide. Vanessa Prins-Goodman (Goodman Coaching) is one of the team members located in Amsterdam.