If you’re reading this, then congratulations – you’ve made it to 2018. Maybe it’s just me but the ten years making up 2008-2017 felt like a lifetime to me in and of itself…so much change and innovation interspersed with decline in other areas. One constant trope that pops up at the start of every new year is the New Year’s Resolution. While I obviously think that resolving to make some positive change to benefit yourself (and hopefully others also) is good, sometimes the ways that people attempt to implement that change is not likely to lead to success. In my mind, making a resolution without solid reflection and outlining a detailed implementation plan means that you will become a statistic and fail early on in trying to maintain your resolution. In addition, not planning on how to implement your resolution into your life will mean that your resolution formed after reflection will likely still not work. All three legs on the stool are necessary.
Although I don’t do it as much as I probably should, many influential people that I follow and even try to emulate swear by the benefits of daily meditation as a way to hone focus and cut through the “noise” we all have in our lives. For some it may be prayer, and for others it may just be quietly practicing mindfulness regularly, but either way it makes sense why this would be a worthwhile pursuit. Meditation is a more deliberate and regular form of reflection, but I would submit that even taking stock at the end of year to assess achievements and areas for growth has great value.
In terms of your career, those of us who are ambitious probably do have longer-term goals that are broader in nature – but do you have shorter-term and intermediary goals designed to allow you to take step up after step up to get to that longer-term goal? The former could be seen as battle plans with the latter being seen as an overall map and strategy for the greater war. To further this analogy, then, a long-term goal without the underlying smaller goals is making a plan for war without considering the nuances and subtle factors comprising each unique battle.
In terms of your own personal growth, if you have the stomach for it, something that I saw last year and tried out boils down to asking those close to you to honestly and critically comment on where you might need to grow yourself (e.g., being more patient with people). The personal growth branch of the “reflection tree” is probably most important as it undoubtedly feeds into one’s ability to grow and succeed in their career. Whether it’s meditation or a more basic end-of-year reflection process, any resolutions you make will be undergirded by some sort of reflection process.
This is in my mind the sexier part of the self-improvement process. Resolutions by themselves are easy because to many they are affirmative declarations to do or stop doing a thing: “I will quit smoking,” “I will get in shape,” “I will work to improve my marriage.” The resolution is really the tip of the iceberg, the visible reference point and the north star to which your compass will guide you.
An important consideration would be to make a specific resolution. “Live a healthier life” is probably not sufficiently specific to allow a person to meaningfully progress toward that goal. If I wanted to lose twenty pounds, I might make the goal something to the effect of “Lose twenty pound through diet and exercise by July 31, 2018.” Beyond that there probably is now much to say…resolutions are probably the easiest and most self-explanatory part of the process.
At this point you’ve reflected and made your resolution…so this is the part where it magically happens, right?
Well, no. Without some sort of underlying foundation for how to actually implement these well-intentioned resolutions formed after some form of reflection, they are prone to sputter out into nothingness. An action plan is required to really make sure the resolution comes to fruition.
Since getting in shape is a pretty common choice, I would implement this resolution by laying out smaller objectives/steps that would help me get there – for example:
a. Cardio at gym 4 days per week, at least 45 minutes per visit.
b. Make shopping list of nutritionist-approved healthy foods, do not deviate from the list while shopping.
And on and on. So the way the process would play out might go like this:
REFLECTION: “I’ve been lax in eating well and have been getting a lot of fast food lately. I feel slower and sluggish, and I’ve put on twenty pounds. I’d like to drop that weight but I know that it will take work.”
RESOLUTION: “I want to lose twenty pounds through diet and exercise by July 31, 2018.”
IMPLEMENTATION: “So my plan is to do cardio at the gym down the street four times per week for at least 45 minutes per visit. I’ll have to do research on healthier foods and make my shopping list based off of those recommendations…that way I won’t deviate when I see something tempting in the store.”
So that pretty much constitutes the process. This can be used for both personal and professional goals, though most of the time people think of them as being used for the former (thus my focus on that area). Hopefully your 2017 was enjoyable and prosperous, and may your 2018 be even more so.
This article is also available at my LinkedIn page.