Why bother setting New Year’s Resolutions?
Most of them have been long forgotten by now – the 2nd week in January – some are more enduring: Dry January, VeganUary etc may last for a month. Why do we set them? Why do we set ourselves up for failure? Start the year as you mean to go on – errmm… Hang on!
Did you join the gym in January? Yup, that 12 month subscription seemed like a good idea at the time but literally hundreds of millions of £ are wasted in the UK each year from people who simply don’t go.
Did you resolve to eat better? Good try, but statistics say you’ll have had a Bargain Bucket and innumerable Big Macs by now… Get the rotting bags of salad from the back of the fridge and move on.
Spending less money may have been appealing but I’d fancy the odds that, actually, the credit card has ventured out by now… (likely to buy the Bargain Bucket!).
So what is the thought process behind setting New Year’s Resolutions? And why in January? As the clock ticks over to 12:00am on 01/01/xx an arbitrary unit of time has passed and a ‘blank sheet’ appears before us: the first shiny page of the diary, the new notebook, and likely wearing some new socks. What a great time to set some goals. We pluck them from thin air: lose some weight, that seems like a good idea; let’s join the gym. Whilst I’m at it I’ll eat better and spend less money.
Setting these goals with little thought to the Why? or indeed the How? inevitably sets us up for failure. Old habits die hard, to coin a phrase. Without recognising the cue that generates your action leading to an outcome or reward, means you’ll be destined for the fast food hall before you know it. The ‘cue’ refers to what motivates you, even subliminally: that could be a specific time of day, a particular meeting room, a time of day or even a conversation with a particular colleague, – some form of routine that you will have ingrained in your schedule has become a habit – overcoming this without planning for it is nigh on impossible based on willpower alone; the ‘reward’ is simply too motivating.
So rather than picking a random, seemingly meaningful but ultimately meaningless goal – and being resigned to the fact that you’re gonna fail – how about create a plan? One that means something to you. One that will actually benefit your life. One that you can, and will, achieve.
Firstly identify what results you want to achieve: what’s the goal?
Where do you want to be? What do you want to do? What do you want to have? Write it out – on paper – with a pen. This will give you a list of things that could be your goals. Pick the most important to you. That could be to lose weight, to save money, to eat better – or a million other things.
Secondly, create your plan: we are all familiar with SMART goals – but how many of us actually use the formula? Pen to paper is massively important again here – not typing out on a keyboard! To recap:
S: Specific – really specific. How much weight do you want to lose in total. How much sales commission do you want to earn? How quickly do you want to be promoted / get that new job – what / where?
M: Meaningful and Measurable – get into the why. Why do you want to lose weight? Write it down. To appear more physically attractive? Why? To have more confidence? Why? To be a better role model for your children? Why? To live longer? Why? What will more money bring you? Security? New car? New House? Why do you want that? What will you get from a new job? How will that feel? Measurable – how are you going to chart your progress? Write it down.
A: Achievable – Let’s be fair, short of lopping off a leg, you’re not going to lose 3 stone overnight. Plan a challenging but achievable goal.
R: That is also realistic – if you earn £30,000 / year you aren’t going to save £50,000 by the Summer from your earnings.
T: Time related – by setting a time frame on your goal, you are committing to progress and you will work towards achieving your goal more quickly.
It’s interesting and beyond the scope of this writing, to get into how all this stuff works – the magic is though, it really does!
There are some great books out there that I’d recommend reading if you are serious about improving yourself and your life – the list is certainly not exhaustive and if you have any further recommendations, please let us all know 😊:
- The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
- Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl
- Goals! – Brian Tracy
- The Magic of Thinking Big – David J. Schwartz
- Awaken the Giant Within – Anthony Robbins
Plug for business:
If one of your goals is to move onwards and upwards in the world of accounting and finance, get in touch and one of our highly motivated, goal oriented team of specialist recruiters will happily have a conversation to understand the best way to add value to you and support your career.
Author: Graham Purcell (Business Manager)