I’m a huge fan of having clear intentions. Clear intentions lead to clear goals. Without clear goals, I’m unproductive, aimless and adrift at sea.
Like many others, I’ve started the new year brimming with enthusiasm and full of good intentions. I’m clear about what I want to achieve. And I’ve even recruited a trusted friend to help keep me accountable. This year is going to be different! Or so I tell myself.
But even as I write this, I know that there’s a huge gap between good intentions and actual results. To have any hope of achieving our goals, we need to take a hard look at potential pitfalls and develop a plan to circumvent them. Only then can we develop realistic optimism, a key ingredient in sustaining resilience as willpower and good intentions fade, as they often do through the year.
Some building blocks for success are relatively straightforward. Set clear, realistic and measurable goals, break large goals into smaller bite-size ones, measure progress at regular intervals and ideally, get an accountability buddy to keep you on point. I’d also suggest adopting the Cue-Routine-Reward technique outlined by Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit if you’re trying to establish a new habit.
This is stuff you already know, and have probably tried but you’ve still fallen short of your intentions. So once again good intentions alone are not enough. And even with the right discipline and support structures, they do not necessarily deliver the intended results.
So are we doomed for another repeat performance this year? Before you toss your painstakingly written list of goals to the wind, let’s look at some other enablers you might not have considered –
Make clear choices
This includes what you’re de-prioritising or saying “NO” to this year. Having clear intentions and goals isn’t about adding on more stuff. It’s also about deciding what you will stop doing, or do less of. If you have a big work goal you’re pursuing, what work will you stop doing to make time for it?
When developing your intentions for the year, you can refer to this list of “A Life Well Lived” questions as guideposts to determine your priorities. Then decide what you’ll de-prioritise to free up time for your most important goals.
Pick ONE goal, and only one to focus on at a time
Think big but start small. Let’s face it. We’re all overwhelmed as it is. Picking only one thing isn’t thinking small. It’s being smart. Set yourself up for success by focusing on your most important goal first. Get sufficient momentum and progress before adding another one.
One approach is to organise the year by setting a theme for each quarter so that all the important areas of your life get the attention it deserves. For eg Q1 could be more focused on work goals, Q2 family goals, Q3 personal growth goals etc.
Pick an overarching #Mindset word for the year
I love the idea of picking a big word for the year. When you write something down, it forces clarity and increases ownership.
What I love even more is when your big word reflects the mindset needed to achieve your intentions. Your thoughts drive your feelings. Your feelings determine your behaviour.
My #Mindset word for this year is #BeStrong
The idea of a clarity statement is another brilliant concept – one that is shared in this blog from The Light Lawyer – an inspirational initiative helping legal professionals manage the high stress demands of their jobs by improving their mental and physical well-being.
The wheels will fall off the wagon
If there’s one thing December taught me, it’s that life can, and will, throw huge curveballs when you least expect it. Stuff will happen despite your best laid plans.
The best thing to do when it happens? Ride out the storm. And like Dory, just keep swimming! In fact, it’s almost cathartic when it does happen. The best part – you’ll have a great story to share about how all the wheels fell off at the same time, and it still worked out great in the end!
Be kind to yourself
Perhaps the most important thing of all as we’re often not compassionate with ourselves. Celebrate progress as much as the achievement of goals. Have fun along the way for the journey is as important as the destination.
Wishing you onwards and upwards in your journey …. and may this be your best year yet.
The best is yet to be – Robert Browning