The time of year when we reflect more on what we haven’t achieved than on what we have. It’s strange: We can have the best year of our lives, yet still, look back with feelings of regret and deflation as we invariably focus on the one thing that didn’t go as well as we had wanted. That ten pounds we didn’t lose. Or that half-marathon we didn’t run. Or the speaking engagement we didn’t secure. Not to mention the confidence with which we were going to attack our work or business.
Yes, this time of year is definitely a time for reflection.
I wonder, does this sound familiar?
During the holidays, you have time to think. You decide that the following year will be your year. You’re going to nail it. You feel that twinge of excitement in your belly. You buy a new journal and list all the things you’re going to work on. This is it! Then two weeks into January and you’re already beaten down and deflated. You’ve succumbed to, what I call, ‘Resolution Syndrome’. Resolution syndrome is an affliction that affects driven, ambitious people who think big and bold in the absence of goals. They burst with enthusiasm one second and the next, they feel as though the life has been sucked out of them when nothing seems to move ahead as they had envisioned. They often feel that they just can’t get out of the gate and it leads them to exhaustion, procrastination, and hesitation.
Can you relate to this? If so, you’re definitely not alone.
But I have good news. There is a very simple treatment for Resolution Syndrome. It’s this: No more resolutions; only goals. Let me explain. A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. But that’s all it is; a decision based on what you want. A goal, on the other hand, is a firm decision with the desired result and a specified time frame. Goals require action.
Here are some examples:
Resolution: I’m going to lose weight.
Goal: By the end of March, I will have lost 10lbs.
Resolution: I’m going to get more clients.
Goal: I will have two new clients per month.
Resolution: I’m going to be a speaker.
Goal: By the end of February, I will have booked my first speaking engagement.
See the difference? The resolution is simply a statement of what you want. But it’s big and lofty and intangible. A goal, on the other hand, is tangible and inspires action. Goals are vital to make progress, succeed, and feel better. Goals keep us focused on the prize, they keep us going when things get tough, and they allow us incremental celebrations en route. Goals actually help us to feel better, and when we feel better, we do better. And when we do better we feel better. Because goals force us to take action, we’re rewarded with outcomes that can inform the next step. Goals keep us moving forwards, they allow us to learn, and they keep us laser-focused on the prize.
I realize this may sound like motherhood and apple pie. But Resolution Syndrome affects many people, simply because they haven’t set goals. Why? Because we humans are afraid of how we will feel if we don’t achieve our goals. And so, we don’t set them. Instead, we make statements about our desires and we call them ‘resolutions’. But resolutions will never drive achievement. Goals will. With a goal, you can take action. With action, you achieve. With the achievement, you feel great. And when you feel great, you take more action.
This year, instead of resolutions, set goals.
Here’s how to go about it.
Decide on the three things you want to achieve.
Now make each of them measurable. For example, if one of your goals is to lose weight, quantify it. Specify how much weight you want to lose.
Now assign a time frame to each goal. By when do you want to lose weight?
Now work backward from that timeframe and break it down into chunks that make sense. For example, if you want to lose twenty pounds by August, that’s around three pounds per month.
Identify the actions you need to take each day or week to achieve that monthly goal.
Decide how to celebrate your incremental successes.
Establish how you will manage not reaching your goal. Notice I didn’t say ‘fail’. This step is the one that almost everyone ignores. For example, in March perhaps you lose only one pound instead of the target of three pounds. What will you do? Decide at the outset how you will manage such situations. Knowing that will keep you on course and will stop you from giving up. If you fail to plan for this, any slight bump in the road could derail your journey completely.
Celebrate in a big way once your goal is achieved.
Take time to reflect on what you learned along the way.
Set the next goal.
Head into the new year with clear goals, and you’ll set yourself up for the most amazing year you’ve ever had!
I wish you every success in the coming year. You’ve got this!
Tina Cantrill RN, MBA, CPC
Tina Cantrill is a coach and trainer for burned out healthcare professionals. She teaches them how to lead, and how to take care of themselves first, so that they can love their work again.