While the origin of New Year's resolutions goes back as far as 153 BC, in modern day times, they usually evoke feelings of guilt. Most verbs associated with resolutions are restrictive in nature, including to quit, stop, loose, reduce or eliminate. The implication is that you need to improve, fix or repair something that's broke or not complete. By its very nature, people see New Year's resolutions as a difficult exercise at best, requiring discipline, determination and willpower … which are not exactly energizing words.
As a result, most people "make" the resolutions January 1, and usually begin to "break" them by February 1 as their commitment fades and enthusiasm for attainment wanes. Case in point: The extreme increase in traffic at a health club the beginning of the year, which quickly subsides as the weeks and months progress.
Well here's an idea: This year, consider creating New Year's reVolutions; transformational actions that will lead to breakthrough results. New Year's reVolutions can energize and invigorate by the thought of "what's possible."
By definition, which one of the below would inspire you to get out of bed January 1?
- A resolution - a solution, accommodation or settling of a problem.
- A reVolution - a drastic and far reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving.
New Year's reVolutions are personal and broader in scope than the traditional resolutions. The framing of your reVolutions requires stepping back and deciding what do you want to be as opposed to what do you need to do. If someone were to introduce you to a large crowd recognizing you for your accomplishments, what would you want your bio to say? Are you on track to be that person? If not, what actionable steps can you take today that will help you get there tomorrow?
To help increase the chances of keeping inspired (vs. disciplined) with your New Year's revolutions, follow these 10 tips:
1. Goals are dreams with a deadline. Dreams are all about "wants and desires" with no commitment, where goals are "concrete and defined" with commitment. Where do you ultimately want to be and what do you want to do? Imagine limitless opportunities and be willing to take a chance to lay yourself on the line to achieve them. Write down three actionable goals that you can visualize and that you WILL achieve by the end of 2009. Keep them in front of you at all times so your daily actions will lead you to the attainment of these goals.
2. Positive attitude plus positive actions equal positive results. While having a positive mental attitude is a good start, it is the positive actions that follow that will lead to success (vs. wanting, hoping and waiting for them to happen). Make a plan on how you will achieve each goal with mini-plans, mini-goals and corresponding dates for each.
3. Follow your passion. Commit to doing more of what you enjoy doing that invigorates, provides pleasure and satisfaction and less of what you do not enjoy that leads to procrastination and stress (delegate, hire out, etc.). Your chores are other people's challenges.
4. Soar with Your Strengths. Spend more time on those projects, tasks or activities that accentuate your talents and natural gifts and less time on the improvement of your weaknesses or shortcomings (delegate to others). By focusing on your strengths - what you are naturally good at - you will have a higher self-esteem, be more professionally fulfilled and you will ultimately be far more successful.
5. Be the organized executive. Being overwhelmed with clutter can make you feel busier than you actually are. Start the year fresh by doing a total catharsis or cleansing. Go through every piece of paper in every file with a goal to trash it, box it (future needs) or re-file it (near term needs). Your files will be reduced by 66 to 75 percent. You will start out the year with a refreshed attitude. Begin or end each day with 20 minutes worth of organizing, even if it means hiding piles until you can get to them.
6. Re-analyze your "to-do list." Does your "to-do list" look more like an annual plan? Are you working 10, 12 and 14-hour days and you still don't feel like you get it all done? Go back through your "to-do list" and prioritize it to "do it," "delegate it" or "scratch it." Prioritize your list so you can do more of what brings you personal, professional and monetary rewards and less of what steals your time. Make sure you add in your "want to-do list" items, as opposed to only those tasks that others ask you to do.
7. Compartmentalize your priorities. Once you have decided on your priorities of the day, week, month, and year, focus on the tasks at hand … setting up firewalls to keep any distractions from diluting your focus. While we have two arms, two eyes and two ears, we only have one brain, so it is extremely difficult to concentrate on two or more projects and do them well at the very same time.
8. Change the way you see everything. By reprogramming your brain to see opportunities vs. obstacles, challenges vs. chores and celebrate what you've accomplished vs. feeling bad about what you have not, you will increase your energy, improve your attitude and raise your level of professional satisfaction.
9. Surround yourself with positive people. Good attitudes are contagious, elevating organizations to heights previously thought unreachable, but bad attitudes are more contagious, draining energy, accelerating discontent, and destroying morale. Choose to spend your precious time with people that will support you, encourage you and celebrate in your success.
10. Reinvent Yourself. Even performers like Madonna realize that change is cathartic, energizing and can be very good for a career. It is easy to become stale and accept the way things are if we don't shake it up every once and a while, even in our dress and our surroundings.
While we now have new technologies like cell phones, e-mail, PDAs, wireless cards - all designed to save us time, make us more efficient and more effective - the reality is they can be pulls and distractions as well - taking us off tasks to what is truly important. Do not become a slave to technology, but instead use technology as a tool to help you achieve your goals.
Finally, we all have a goal to "get it all done," when in reality we have to accept that we will never "get it all done." There is no way to accomplish all that we want to do plus all that is asked from us by our work, family, friends and organizations.
The reality is wherever we spend our precious resources - time, money and energy - is where we will get the greatest results. Decide first on what results you want to accomplish in 2009, and spend your time, energy and focus to achieve your New Year's reVolutions.
Michael Guld is an author, speaker, entrepreneur and radio commentator whose business development expertise lies in the "soft skills"; increasing sales performance, marketing exposure, employee productivity and creating a world-class service experience. He is the president of The Guld Resource Group and creator of "Talking Business with Michael Guld," airing on Central Virginia's Public Radio and heard at www.talkingbiz.net.