I don’t make New Year’s resolutions any more. I don’t even like the word “resolution.” It has a kind of uninspiring, “Thou shalt not” tone to it. Anyway, my New Year’s resolutions were starting to repeat themselves. (How many years did I declare that I would finally get in shape, spend more time with my family, get organized, stop procrastinating, etc.?) You don’t have to be Einstein to know that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is not only stupid, it’s insanity. (Actually, that’s almost a direct quote.)
Instead of repeating the madness this year, try going about it another way. Sometime before you re-enter the chaos back at work after the holidays, take an hour or so to sit quietly and answer these three questions. Take notes. You’ll want to look at them throughout the year.
#1 “Where did I grow this past year?”
You celebrated successes, enjoyed happy times, survived challenges and suffered setbacks, both in your professional life and the rest of your world. What did you learn from these? A lot more than you thought, I’ll bet.
One executive I coached through this process had had to let several people go and had really struggled to keep her group – and herself – motivated. Where did she grow? She learned what it takes to manage change well, how to deliver hard messages, and most importantly, that she’s stronger and more resilient than she thought.
#2 “Where do I want to grow next year?”
Re-living how you handled your experiences in 2013 – even the ones you’re not proud of – will be illuminating, and you’ll find yourself energized about what’s next. Some good questions to ask yourself:
- What situations would I like to change and who do I need to be to make that happen?
- What qualities do I see in others I’d like to foster in myself?
- What overused strengths would I like to balance out?
As you answer these, stay focused: you’re setting intentions for growth, not specific and measurable goals.
The client I mentioned above was ready to be more courageous, especially in tackling difficult conversations. She wanted to be more inspiring, which would help her better engage her group. And on a personal level, because her father would likely die in the next few months, she aspired to stay strong and supportive for her family and still allow herself room to grieve. Each of these intentions flowed naturally from the lessons she had learned.
#3 “How can I ensure I make the progress I want?”
This is where the rubber meets the road. There are lots of ways you can support yourself, and the more you use, the better. Be creative; you can always switch something out if it’s not working for you. A few suggestions:
- Document your intentions and monitor yourself regularly
- Set clear expectations for your thoughts or behaviors in specific situations
- Engage a coach and/or mentor
- Work with an accountability partner
- Journal frequently on lessons you’re learning
- Create mantras to use as reminders
- Go back to this exercise periodically.
My executive coaching client used most of the above and had a fantastic year. She gave a lot of credit to her habit of saying to herself in the moment: “You’ve done this before. You can do it.”
You may not have done this before, but you can do it now. Give it a try.
Let us know how it works. Inspire us with a comment.