You're probably reading this sometime near the end of January, or as we call it, "the roadblock weeks." The shiny new veneer of the New Year has faded, and it's back to the daily grind. You're tired, anxious, and a little grumpy, and those lofty career goals the young, idealistic 2016 you had in mind for this year have started to look untenable.
This is make-or-break time: over the next couple weeks, your commitment to your New Year's resolution will be tested. You may resent yourself for setting the goal in the first place, bargain about why it wasn't achievable in the first place, or fall into a deep depression after convincing yourself you're not good enough. Many will succumb.
But remember: You're not alone! Everybody struggles with keeping their New Year's Resolutions. We're not afraid to admit we've let a couple resolutions... slip. Anyway, that's not how it's going to go this year--for you or us! Because this time, we have a secret weapon. We've put together a list of things we can do to beat back that suggestion that you could just... give up. We're prioritizing professional goals in this particular list, because that's what we're about this year (*ahem* raise?), but really, following these suggestions is a great way to keep up with any resolution. We'll bust through that roadblock together!
Sub-GoalsThe most common reason people give up on resolutions is that they get overwhelmed. They set themselves up with some huge, intimidating goal like "grow business by 200%" or "transition to a different career" or "earn much more money" *ahem*. A goal that big seems insurmountable, and then it hangs over their heads. Before they know it, they're dreading every day that goes by, knowing they should be doing more. Finally, they can't take the stress and they scuttle the whole project. They put themselves through all kinds of stress for nothing!
It's no way to live. To keep up with a goal, you need to have a way to make achievable progress all the time. That's why you should break your resolution into bite-sized, achievable goals. As part of your "transition to a new career," you could set a goal like "research what training and certifications I need to become a professional scuba diver." Small successes will make you feel like you're making progress and encourage you to keep going. Think about how you could break up your resolution into smaller, more manageable goals. Space those goals out throughout the year. That way, you'll always have something specific to work towards and you'll make progress all year.
Get a PartnerHere's a great way to keep up with your resolution: force someone else to suffer with you! Ok, wait, we should rephrase. If you and a friend decide on your New Year's resolutions together, you'll both have someone to keep you honest. You could set a goal with a co-worker you like, or with a spouse or close friend. You could even set the same goal as your "resolution partner," but it's not necessary.
Mostly, it's important that someone else knows what you're trying to do. That way if you get discouraged, you have someone to cheer you on. You can do the same for them. If you really want to get organized, you could even set up planning meet-ups. You and your "partner" could meet up at a restaurant or bar, discuss your mutual progress, and offer tips on how to stick with it. You could even have more than one partner if you're so inclined. Having someone around to help you stick to your goal will make it feel more real and thus harder to give up on. Plus, you'll feel all guilty and stuff if you let the other person down. So if you're into motivation through guilt, there's that.
GamifyWorking hard to achieve your goals doesn't sound fun. You know what's fun? Games. When you set your sub-goals (remember #1?), make achieving them into a game. Reward yourself when you achieve a subgoal. Maybe give yourself a "point" for each one you achieve, and then do something nice for yourself when you've accrued enough points. If you have a resolution partner, you could keep track of each other's points. We know this sounds vaguely like the gold star system from grade school, but do you remember how excited you were to get one of those sweet, glittery stars?
The secret to gamifying your goals is to make progress fun. However, you can change your perspective to make goal progress sound like fun instead of work. Ideally, you should be able to forget about the looming terror of the overarching goal altogether by instead focusing on achieving and being rewarded by the small stuff one step at a time. Ok, you're not a little kid so you probably won't actually forget about the scary, overarching goal, but hey, you can try. Plus, if you reward yourself, you get rewards! What's not to like?
Schedule Review TimeAnother rule that sounds obvious, but it's important: to achieve your goal, you have to think about your goal. The more constructively you can think about and chart out each step you have to take to achieve your resolution, the more organized you'll feel, and the better a chance you'll have of making it happen. To that end, schedule some time, maybe once a month or so, just to review your progress.
During this time, think about what progress you've made, any obstacles you've overcome, any unexpected challenges you've run into--that kind of thing. If you're truly committed, consider keeping a journal to actually physically record things like this in order to consult how you're doing month-to-month. This is another good way to remind yourself of your small victories and also allows you to recalibrate based on changing circumstances. Unfortunately, the unexpected happens. Your goal, or at least how you go about that goal, will probably have to change at some point during the year. If you don't take the time to stop and think about how you could best continue to approach your goal, a changing circumstance might be exactly the excuse you're looking for to get out of achieving it at all.
Most importantly: try not to stress out about your resolution! Beating yourself up for not making enough progress or losing sleep over your anxieties isn't going to help you accomplish anything. Remember: a New Year's resolution is something you're doing to improve yourself or your life. It's a cool, good thing you're doing, and you should feel proud for attempting it. Giving it up shouldn't make you feel like a loser; just the fact that you're trying means you're not!
If your goal is to make your work life more efficient or convenient, check out our blog for more tips and give us a call today. It turns out our New Year's resolution is to help our customers even more than last year! Well, that, and the raise thing.