Have you ever wondered about the short lifecycle of New Year’s resolutions and their tendency to fail? Implementing your intentions requires answers to the ‘Why’, ‘What’ and ‘How’ of what it is that you want to transform in your business or life. Everyone enjoys the feeling of achievement, pride, strengths and confidence after successfully executing an intended plan, like e.g. exercising more regularly, losing weight, having more time for friends and family, getting the promotion or restructuring a business unit.
Here are the ingredients that you need to orchestrate to make your plans really work:
- Focus on your goal and be as specific as you can. Vague strategies can lead to surrendering to the temptation of giving up or declaring victory early because you got tired, discouraged or bored. Take your time to think about your goal from various angles. What is the desired outcome that you would like to achieve?
- Know your ‘Why’ and have a vision. How do you know that you have eventually achieved your goal? Being aware of and aligned with the deeper meaning of what you want to achieve keeps you moving forward when the going gets tough. An effective vision provides you with direction and energy to overcome obstacles and resistance. It also outlines the benefits that are attractive to you; and this is important for the long run.
- Have a detailed plan. Your vision appeals to your emotions and puts you in a positive mood; the downside of which is that you could oversee the magnitude and variety of different actions that need to be accomplished along the way to your goal. Your plan supports your decision regarding the feasibility of your goal. The sooner you want to start going for your goal, the more important the ‘What’ becomes.
- Apply a sense of realism – always. Don’t be a naïve optimist who gets excited and thinks s/he can easily get it done. Rather get creative about potential setbacks, weaknesses and other factors that might prevent your success. And plan for them, even if it feels a little pessimistic at first, it enhances the likelihood of your really achieving your goals. By mentally contrasting the desired goal with potential obstacles, more resources get activated and the likelihood of your success increases.
- Believe in yourself. How do you want to use your brain during the next decades? Whether you think you can do it and change or you think people generally always remain the same, you are probably right. Your potential to learn and grow is endless, and your brain’s plasticity enables you for life-long learning.
- Make your goal a conscious choice. Which goal makes you truly happy in a sustainable way? How does your goal contribute to essential human needs like relatedness, competence and autonomy? Human relationships are important for your well-being, and so are goals that are nurtured by this need. Experience your impact in the world through using your social, emotional, artistic, organizational or creative competencies to work on your goal. If you are able to self-determine your goal and have the freedom to choose the steps and actions to achieve it, your intrinsic motivation will do some magic and take care of the ‘How’.
- Include the essence of a good plan: If …, then … . Woody Allen once said “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Plans and goals require a sense of realism and self-awareness. Your best intentions need to be translated into concrete behavior, and you can do that by including the specifics around the location or time in your plan. This way, you are automatically reminded of your intention at the respective time/place and a new routine can gradually be established.
All of that is easier said than done, humhh?! Each plan represents the transformation from one state to another – even if you end up with a different achievement than originally planned.
I recently watched the movie “How do you know” again. In one of the final scenes, Paul Rudd’s figure who wants to win Reese Witherspoon’s (figure’s) heart, shares with her the “Play-Doh-Story”: Play-Doh was originally invented by Joe McVicker in Central Ohio as white cleaning goo used to remove soot from wallpaper. When gas and electric heating came in, there was no more need for the cleaning goo. Joe’s sister-in-law and nursery school teacher, Ms. Kay Zufall, discovered that her kids liked squeezing the goo more than the hard modeling clay. So they colored it and called it “Play-Doh”. Paul Rudd concludes their conversation by stating: “Play-Doh is proof that we are all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work.” I think this is true for any strategy, project, goal or plan.
What story can you create and tell to make your most important adjustment come true in 2015? What could be the adjustment for you to make something really work? What would help your team?
I invite you to check out some related resources on this website:
- Get your free copy of my eBook ‘Energetic? Change!’
- Or read through some of the articles on change management
Coaching with Inspired Executives supports you finding your true story and realizing your desired transformation. Just contact me.
Have a wonderful, happy, healthy, prosperous and abundant New Year!