It’s New Year’s resolutions at work: eat better; exercise more; maybe both. Oh, and then, of course, there are those career-minded folks whose New Year’s resolutions might center on kicking their personal branding and their career ambitions into high gear.
And what usually ends up happening? Well, as the year turns from “new” to “no-longer-new,” the New Year’s resolutions fade in the distance. And people often hardly even notice, because by then the behaviors related to the resolution have pretty much faded as well.
Do you find you can relate to this at all? If so, then don’t berate yourself; it’s normal, really. Here’s why New Year’s resolutions are bound to fail:
The timing of New Year’s resolutions is extrinsic and arbitrary.
We are accultured to associating the beginning of a new year with a “new beginning, period.” The truth is, though, 24 hours from now we’ll each be the same person we were 24 hours ago. None of us will have any more or less of any inclination to start or stop any of our accustomed behaviors. Does a new calendar on the wall really mean all of a sudden you have new staying power?
New Year’s resolutions are an excuse for putting things off.
Yes, let’s slack off as the year winds down. It’s the holidays, isn’t it? And with all the turkey, pumpkin pie, and eggnog by the fireside, who feels like serious self-improvement work anyway? Hey, the year is almost over, and we’ve got all year ahead to be good, and follow through—right?
I rest my case…keep reading.
There is an illusory correlation between “a lofty goal” and “a year to do it.”
Just committing to doing something feels like taking action already. The resolve even grows stronger as the New Year draws closer. That even glosses over the fact you haven’t really acted on anything, yet. (See above.)
And then January is here, and yes, at first you are full of verve as you set out to implement your plans. Yes, it feels different, but that’s the idea, isn’t it! Until “different” turns into “difficult.” Over time, you feel the impact of how abruptly you tried to make big changes.
That’s when self-imposed new habits falter. And the rest is history.
Better to think SMART!
Goals you set stand the best chance of coming to fruition when you keep them realistic and manageable. You can make that happen with the tried-and-true SMART approach: Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Relevant; and Timely.
Example: “I will be a more efficient and productive networker.”
That sounds good. At the same time, it sounds vague. You may not even know where to begin to become an “efficient and productive networker.” Give it a SMART makeover!
Possible results include the likes of:
- “I will attend the two major Chamber of Commerce networking events next month.”
- “I will follow up by e-mail within 24 hours with the person whose business card I just got, using a ‘sandwich message’ (offer-ask-offer).”
- “I will review my contact log and, by the end of this week, get back in touch with three people I haven’t contacted in more than six months.”
Perhaps the best thing of all is: any time of the year is a good time for SMART goals. Oh, but if you want, you can still plan to make the New Year the time to step up your personal branding. You’ll have your SMART goals to back you up on these plans!