To do or not to do, that is the question

Dec 7th, 2016



December is upon us. Minds are focused on wrapping up projects (no pun intended) by the 24th. What often keeps us going in this intense flurry to the finish line are the resolutions that January will be different. You’ll be calmer, better organised and with projects on an even keel. Won’t you?

According to research (YouGov in the UK and the University of Scranton in the US), 63% of us will make a New Year’s Resolution. Yet only 8% of us will achieve them. Why is it so hard?

In my experience, it is about more than willpower. Many of us are very determined when we want to be, yet the same resolutions appear on the list year after year.

To make real changes in 2017, ask yourself: are your resolutions a ‘To Do’ List or a ‘What Inspires Me’ List?

New Year’s Resolutions fail because they are more often than not a list of ‘shoulds’ – ‘I should get fit, I should manage my team better, I should spend more time with my family.’

What if I said, instead, you could have a New Year action plan that actually makes you excited about the year ahead?

During our Vision Intensive programme, this is exactly what we do. Our clients are busy, successful and ambitious but are looking for some kind of change in their lives. They may want to achieve a specific goal such as a promotion or success in a new role. Or they may want to set a new ambition for the next five years. In some cases, they may be demotivated, or simply restless for something new. Whatever the change you want to make, the key lies in how you emotionally connect with those plans. Plans need to inspire and excite, not beat you over the brow.

So if you are planning to take advantage of the festive break for some reflection and preparation for next year, here is some guidance to help you create a plan that might have you actually look forward to 3rd January.

Take time to review

High-achievers often gloss over what they’ve already done because they are so focused on what’s next. List what you’ve achieved over the last year in all areas of your life. Flick through your diary as a prompt. Remember your achievements don’t have to be monumental – things such as ‘a great family holiday’ or ‘a successful team away day’ all count, as they give you important clues for going forward.

Define your vision

Increasingly I’ve noticed that the people I coach have lots of goals and initiatives but little vision. What do you want really to achieve? If you are struggling to define this, ask yourself: what do I long for?

Focus on Roles vs Tasks

Aim for 5 top goals for the year, no more. One very helpful approach is to look at the different roles you play rather than the tasks you have to do. You may be a CEO, a team manager, a mother/father, a school governor and your own coach. Set goals based on each of your roles, but above all, decide on the one role you want truly to focus on next year.

Think about your strengths.

I define strengths as when your talent and passion come together. We can do many things well but what brings you alive? What talents do you know you have and how can you make sure you use them? What activities can you do more of in the coming year to capitalise on your strengths?

Bring in values.

What are your top 5 non-negotiable core values? When you are feeling stressed or uninspired, it is often because there is a core value that you aren’t living. Think about what really matters to you. And what that means in practice.

Now – Action!

Be concrete and specific. Take in all aspects of your life, identifying actions for both career and personal aspirations, tied to your vision. For career, think about what critical relationships do you need to develop? What knowledge do you need and how can you increase it? What experience do you need and how do you acquire it? For personal, think about actions linked to your health, your personal interests, your family.

Once you have identified the actions you need to take, now ask yourself: what is the one simple step you can take to get going? It may be as simple as a phone call. Once you make the first step, you’ll find you generate momentum and begin to advance.

And finally – tell someone!

It could be your partner, your personal assistant – anyone who can support you and hold you to account. Engaging someone else in your plan greatly helps you move forward.

Creating an inspiring action plan is not something that necessarily comes easily when doing it on your own. But if you want to make changes next year, make a deal with yourself this Christmas – carve out two hours during the busy celebrations for YOU! Go to a local café, take the dog for a long walk (or offer to take someone else’s dog for a walk!). And think about the last time you achieved something really important to you. Think about how you made the decision to do what you did. And what was it about that goal that made you unstoppable.

By focusing on what ignites you, real change is within your grasp.

For further inspiration, see here how others have benefited from the Vision Intensive Programme, from which these guidelines are taken. We are currently taking bookings for 2017. Please get in touch if you would like to know more about our most popular, one-day one-to-one leadership programme.