Tis the season to be jolly… and along with all the fun and indulgence, at this time of year we often start to think about how we can ‘better ourselves’ in the New Year.
Whatever it is, a change in lifestyle, a thinner/healthier body or even a new job or change in career, is actually easier than you think if you know how.
So, let’s talk about resolutions – how many have you made? Now, be honest, how many have you kept and you can tick off as a complete success? Not many? Don’t panic, you’re not alone!
The problem with resolutions is that we only have a certain amount of willpower and if we vow to ‘go big or go home’ with no real plan of attack we will quickly burn out and, well, we will be stuck doing the same thing we’ve always done and our dreams will stay firmly in our head!
So how do we make resolutions that stick?
We’ve all heard the basics, setting achievable and manageable goals etc but what does this actually mean? Well, in short it means we need to pace ourselves. Start by setting small mini-goals we know we can achieve, write them down and tick them off as we go. This will allow us to celebrate when we succeed, no matter how small to start with. We then get that all important sense of achievement, which is the key to success. This feeling of achievement propels us forward, making it easier (and more fun) to keep taking those baby steps towards our overarching goal.
Studies have shown if we stick to something for more than a month, we will start to become emotionally invested in the activity and it will start to become a natural routine, beginning to feel more like second nature. And after all, isn’t this what we really want? No-one wants to be thin just for a while, only to fall off the wagon and be back to square one by the time the bikini weather arrives!
If we take the ‘go big or go home’ attitude, a month will be a very long time and the likelihood we’ll still be ‘going’ in February will be small. But by starting small, with the aim of just getting into good habits, time will not only go quicker, what we set ourselves will actually be easier.
So how would this apply to something more complex like finding a new job, or changing career completely? Well, the same principle applies.
1) Make a plan.
2) Decide on some mini-goals to get started
3) keep taking those baby steps towards the bigger plan, celebrating along the way. If we look at the example of taking a complete career shift this could mean starting in week 1 by simply researching the industry we want to move into and making connections with people to find out more.
Week 2 could be finding out about all the qualifications we would need and how long these would take.
Week 3 could be thinking about our finances and how we could cover the cost of training and the transition between careers.
Week 4 could be chatting to our nearest and dearest about what they think and/or how they could help actually make the jump. By then, we’ve already hit the magic month milestone and we will be more (or less if we’ve decided it’s not right for us) emotionally invested in the idea and the whole plan won’t seem so alien. We can then re-plan and start by setting more mini-goals on how to actually go forward and actually make the shift.
All this sounds simple but there are a few key factors which can’t be overlooked.
Firstly, the bigger goal must be one we are emotionally invested in wanting to achieve, for us and only us, i.e. it must be something WE actually want to achieve. Secondly, we must write down our mini-goals and actually plan how we are going to achieve them, keeping things in our head very rarely works and plans can become so fluffy we may never know if we’ve achieved anything! And finally, we must celebrate our journey along the way, without the feeling of actually moving forward and allowing ourselves the credit we deserve we will never stick at anything, because, after all, without the feel good factor what’s the point?
So, buy a new notepad, start small, write down your own baby steps along the way – and tick them off – and see what you can achieve by spring!
About the author
Jenni Donato of Chance Coaching is a CIC’s trained and qualified Life Coach and an Affiliate Member of the Association for Coaching. She offers life and mindset coaching to women struggling with unexpected challenges, or those who want to take the next step to create a better life for themselves and those around them.