By Randall Hanifen
Special Contributor, Online Career Tips
This time of year, many people make New Year’s resolutions. However, history has shown that the percentage of people who stick to these great aspirations is very low.
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Some believe the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is high because those people who make a resolution try to make a change that is too radical. Others believe that if someone really wanted to make the change, he or she would not wait until the first of the year. In that view, New Year’s resolutions are just another form of procrastination.
But instead of making a resolution, make an incremental change. Many of us juggle full-time employment, families and possibly second jobs to ensure our families’ well-being.
It’s necessary to set realistic expectations, whether you want to change your personal life or your career. Thinking you will become the next fitness competitor, for example, is a pretty unrealistic goal.
Start with Small Goals as Your New Year’s Resolutions
What is the one area where you need improvement? If it is like many people, holiday eating has probably caught up to you. You see advertisements for every shortcut possible to magically become fit.
While these quick-fix gimmicks are great for selling products, let’s face it. If there were a “magic pill” to take to achieve physical fitness, everyone would take it. No one would need diet and exercise.
Instead, cut out one fast food meal per week or drink one less soda per day. These goals are more attainable.
While adhering to these goals will not drastically change you, the fact that they can be successfully done for a few weeks will boost your confidence. Then, you can move on to eating two less fast-food meals each week and later progress to a total diet change.
The same principle of “starting small” applies if you want to improve relations between yourself and someone else at work. Try making your goal to have one positive interaction per day, especially if it’s someone who you do not mesh well with.
Make it a point to interact with him or her and learn more about that person. You may finally discover common ground that can be the bridge toward bringing your differences together.
However, don’t try to sit down with that person and hash out your differences all in one day; you will likely frustrate each other and not make amends. Humans are creatures of habit and need time to adjust to newness.
Write Down Your Goals and Accomplishments
Part of the failure we encounter with setting goals is that we lose focus. With the myriad responsibilities that a modern, productive adult has to accomplish, only the highly disciplined can develop a routine that includes improvement or new ideas. Even highly disciplined individuals write down their goals.
If eating better and exercising regularly are your desire at this point, download a fitness app that requires you to log your food and exercise. Set up the notifications to remind you to make the entries. This will ensure that when you pick up your phone to email or text that you have the app open first to enter the information.
This self-accountability will force you to rethink your non-healthy lifestyle choices. The same principle applies to employee relations. There are goal-setting apps that function in the same way as fitness apps by requiring you to log in information.
We must monitor our own accountability. Not everyone has a good enough friend to be honest and hold us accountable.
Create a Goal with a Friend or Coworker
If you can connect with a friend or coworker who has the same or similar goal as you do, you can develop a team approach to the goal. For example, maybe your coworker wants to finish college. If you and your coworker form a group that enrolls in classes together, this act forces accountability as few people want to let down their friends.
Also, having a study group that sets times to work on online coursework ensures that the course is “seen” regularly. For online classes, much self-discipline is needed to allot the proper time and energy.
Start with a Goal that Makes You Happy
While we all have personal and professional areas that need improvement, we also have improvements that can be made in our strengths or in areas we enjoy. Improvements in a strong area can offset a weakness and is much better than no improvement at all.
Since we enjoy the work toward achieving a pleasurable goal, more effort will be expended. And since strengths and weaknesses are tied together, we may find a way to like or accept that hard-to-fix area during the journey to self-improvement.
The bottom line is that humans are creatures of habit. We are less successful at revolutionary changes.
Instead, create your New Year’s resolutions and start small with incremental changes. Recognize your accomplishments, build in accountability measures and grab a friend to join the journey. Lastly, improve what you enjoy.