Do you believe in New Years Resolutions? For many, New Year’s resolutions can be a bust. In fact, psychologists find that making resolutions can have a negative impact on your well-being, reminding you that you’ve failed at (your resolution to change here).
If resolutions aren’t your thing, how about considering other creative alternatives? You may have goals for the year that could use some extra motivation without clearly defining dramatic changes in behavior that set you up for failure. Here are a couple of models to consider.
Try Nudge Words
Health writer Tara Parker Pope likes the idea of “nudge words” rather than resolutions. It’s another method for helping you stay focused on who you want to be, whatever you’re doing at the moment.
Here are some ideas:
The CEO of Staffmark, Stacey Lane, has adopted the word Courage as her word for the year. She chose the word after hearing a presentation by our CEO, Rich Thompson, on his book RELENTLESS: Leading Through Performance, Relationships, and the Lessons of Sports. She said the message resonated with her and even had a bracelet made that says Courage to keep her focus and nudge her on a daily basis.
Develop a Rally Cry
In a Smart Brief post, professor and leadership coach Paul Thornton suggests you try out the idea of a rallying cry for the New Year. It’s not so much about what to do as how to do it. He offers examples from the New England Patriots (“Do your job!”) and Nike (“Just do it.”) A rallying cry will help you break through barriers (self-made or otherwise) and help you find the energy to complete difficult tasks.
Think of it as a combination of mantra, tagline, and affirmation. We’ve used a few to help us get through difficult times. No excuses. The only way out is through. Celebrate progress along with wins. Own it.
Thornton quotes Kate Labor, a senior executive at the Harris Corporation. He writes, “Her rallying cry for 2024 is Start Strong. End Stronger. Kate said, ‘Start Strong’ motivates me to be focused and prepared. Do my homework. ‘End Stronger’ motivates me to improve along the way… If you don’t reflect and learn, you don’t improve.’”
If you decide to choose a rallying cry for your career this year, you’ll be taking charge of your own motivation. Choose something that’s short, powerful, emotional, and memorable. (Marketing tagline 101.)
One Month Resolutions
You might also consider “one-month resolutions.” Think “Dry January,” where people take a month off from alcohol after the holidays. Trying out a new behavior for a month gives you the opportunity to explore how you feel after doing it and the chance to opt out, guilt-free, if you want.
- Folder cleanup in February
- More assertive in April
- Make new contacts in May
You get the idea. Psychology Today contributor Meg Selig says, “The biggest advantage of becoming a member of the “Goal of the Month Club” is to free your mind of worry. Knowing you have already set aside time for the next task enables you to focus better on the current task.’
Also based on the book RELENTLESS by our CEO, Rich Thompson, we have a monthly leadership resolution centered around the 5 Foundational Cs of Leadership that we release through social media. For January, we focus on Courage and encourage leaders to recognize someone on their team who does something better than themselves.
Draft a Mission Statement
Finally, consider writing a mission statement for your year. A good mission statement briefly outlines your values to help you make decisions. Writing it down gives it gravitas and allows you to access it when you need inspiration.
It can be as short as you like. “Say yes to things that advance my career. Say no to things that are a distraction from my work.” Or this: “Family. Goals. Fitness. Rest and Recovery.” If a decision or activity doesn’t serve one of these categories, you’ll feel more comfortable saying no.
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