The New Year offers the promise of a fresh start, and due to the toll the pandemic is still taking on us, the ability to start fresh is likely more compelling than ever before. This New Year offers hope for new possibilities—new jobs, new careers, new skills, new growth goals—as we aspire to make meaningful differences in our lives.
In that spirit of hope and optimism, below is a four-step process to ensure that your New Year’s resolutions result in meaningful outcomes—and don’t get lost in the shuffle of everyday life.
Step 1: Dream big, but be realistic
It’s important to dream big. After all, what you’re seeking with your resolutions are meaningful personal and professional transformations. However, make sure your goals aren’t so big that they can’t be accomplished within a year. Be realistic with your time commitment, and remember that resolutions are marathons, not sprints. Most people overestimate what they can do in a month and underestimate what they can do in a year. Whatever your goals are, once you’ve settled on them, be specific about the actionable steps you must undertake to achieve them—and the time commitment they require on your part.
Step 2: Finish the sentence: I need to accomplish ______ by the end of the year because ______.
Embarking on any new goal will require you to get out of your comfort zone and embrace a growth zone—that’s where you’ll find yourself setting “stretch goals” and charting through unfamiliar territories. Growth zones can be annoying and frustrating, and, at times, you might be tempted to give up on your goals altogether. It’s for this precise reason that you must finish the above sentence, timestamp it, and sign your name under it. Whatever your goals are, and whatever your reasons are in support of accomplishing them, completing the above sentence and reading it on a regular basis will serve as a constant reminder of the moment when you made that determination—and will offer you the intrinsic motivation to keep on going against all odds.
Step 3: Set interim milestones and track your progress
According to the great Chinese philosopher and Tao Te Ching author Lao-Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In other words, don’t fixate on big and grand tasks. Instead, focus on small interim tasks and milestones, and perform them with diligence and consistency. Eventually, hitting these interim milestones will produce compounded results. Accomplishing interim milestones will also give you the additional jolt of confidence that will motivate you to continue on your journey.
Step 4: Establish a support system that will keep you in check
Finally, make sure you have a support system of friends and family in place to help you with your resolutions. This support system is important, as it will keep you in check by making you accountable, and offering support and encouragement when you’re feeling down or frustrated. Just as important, this support system will be there to help you celebrate—both your small and big wins.
Recipient of the Presidential Award from The White House, Vibhu Sinha is an intrapreneurial and bottom-line driven senior management professional with experience in leadership roles across banking and capital markets. He has advised institutional clients on corporate strategy, idea generation and pitching, financial planning and analysis, M&A, investor relations, and ESG. Vibhu developed his acumen in Behavioral Psychology at Harvard University as part of a master's degree program. He also earned an M.B.A. from UCLA Anderson.
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