Will it be New Year, new you? Or 2015 all over again?
Whether you need to step up your game at work, the gym or in your personal life, adopting a more scientific and regimented approach in making your New Year’s resolutions can give them more impact, top life coaches say. Here is Benchmark’s guide to getting what you want in 2016.
Set goals, not wishes
‘I wish I could get a raise’, ‘I’d like to give up smoking’, ‘I really should eat fewer pies’, ‘Can I be in the next Star Wars film, pretty please?’… All are admirable aims – but are not the right way to go about making New Year’s resolutions, top life coaches say.
Improving your life is all about setting proper goals, rather than making vague wishes, according to the Dubai-based Mick Todd, director of coaching and training at 2b Limitless.
“One of the reasons that New Year’s resolutions have such a low success rate is because they rely on one thing, and one thing only, which is willpower. And it’s not a great model,” said Mr Todd.
“When you’ve got no structure or support around the goals you set, very often you’re involved in wishing, rather than goal-setting.” His advice? “I set goals and I move towards them really clearly. But I don’t hope.”
Getting what you want is a process
In football, a goal is not something that just happens – just ask Aston Villa FC’s current squad.
For teams that do score, however, there is usually a series of passes, tackles and headers before the ball goes in the back of the net. So it goes with setting your own goals.
“Get involved in a goal-setting process – find a process that can support you. Because success is a process, it’s not an event,” said Mr Todd. So it’s not ‘I wish I could get a raise’. Think: ‘I need to do X, Y and Z to boost my output by July, boosting my chances of a payrise’.
Goals must be measurable
Your goals must be both process-driven and measurable, said Mr Todd. A general goal would be to “get fit”. But a specific goal would be: “join the local gym and work out for an hour a day.”
Many corporate appraisals rely on ‘key performance indicators’ (KPIs), which centre around measurable values. So try setting yourself KPIs for your own personal life goals, too.
“You’ve got to make sure that what you are measuring is something that is genuinely going to have an impact on the quality of your life,” advises Mr Todd.
Eliminate the barriers to success
Lack of self-belief and procrastination are two of the biggest barriers to success, says Mr Todd.
“The number-one factor in sustained success… is recognising your barrier and then eliminating it,” he said.
“You need to understand what are the barriers that stop you, and how do you want to overcome those barriers in the New Year.”
The life coach – who has worked with individuals and some of the top organisations globally – says procrastination (which he calls “the big P”) is something that gets raised a lot.
“As long as you are taking decisive, positive action, it’s not a petri dish that procrastination can survive in,” he said.
Plan – and tidy
Celebrity stylist, entrepreneur and author Kelly Lundberg has two top tips for a better life in 2016: Plan, and tidy up…
“Every evening before going to bed I will make a detailed daily plan. I am a visual personal so I like to make sure I can see just what’s ahead of me. It goes without saying that things can change but 90% of the time things work out just as planned,” she said.
“And tidy every room in the house – not just your closet! It’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ we manage to accumulate throughout the year. So sort drawers, shelves and cupboards for a more organised you.”
Know the difference between disappointments and frustrations
A frustration is something you can change: for example, “I’m frustrated that I didn’t lose weight”.
A disappointment is something you can’t: for example, “I’m disappointed my marriage didn’t work”.
But you can still learn from disappointments – and that is a vital way of improving your life in the future, says Mr Todd.
“You need to reflect on the year that you’ve had,” he said. “You have to be able to recognise the patterns in your life.”
Know the difference between positivity and optimism
It’s all very well having lovely flowery thoughts about the future and a better, richer, healthier you. But doing something about it is the important thing. And that’s the difference between positivity and optimism.
“Positivity is a thought… but optimism is an action. You can be positive and just think, and that doesn’t change much. But optimism is consistent, decisive positive action. We talk about setting goals that are optimistic – so they must start with a verb,” said Mr Todd.
Manage yourself, not time…
They’re not making more time: There will only ever be 24 hours in a day. So you need to manage how you use it.
“It’s not time you need to manage, you need to manage yourself,” said Mr Todd.
“You need to understand your time – the time when you’re at your best and how you can best use that time to maximise impact.”
But don’t feel bad about ‘me time’
We all need time off – so don’t feel bad about it, advises Ms Lundberg.
“My New Year’s resolution is to create a better work-life balance,” she said. “It’s to be more consistent in scheduling ‘me’ time and not to feel guilty when I do take time out to do the things that bring about a more holistic approach to the pace of life.”
Love what you do!
This is, of course, easier said than done. But if you enjoy what you do, then work needn’t be ‘work’ at all.
“Love what you do and be prepared to be the best in the world at it,” advises Mr Todd. “I can’t remember the last time I worked,” he added. One tip here is to try to pursue happiness, rather than material success, said Mr Todd.
“If you go away and focus on being happy and the things that make you happy, the universe will get out of your way – and you will be successful.”