Many people make New Year’s resolutions, and many of those last about ten to fifteen days. Something is clearly not working in that process. It could be lack of commitment to the resolutions. It could be resolutions that are too grand, or not inspiring enough. It could be simply not enough oomph to get through and stick with them. It honestly doesn’t matter.

What does matter is how you can – at any time of year – set a goal (or two) for yourself that will stick and will bring you results. And while you may have many opportunities (especially at this time of year) to see a list such as this, we thought it might be worthwhile to call it out here as well, particularly with our Thoughtful approach.

  • Pick a goal that motivates you – So often we list our goals or make our resolutions because we know we “should.” I “should” exercise more or eat better. I “should” take that course that I’ve been talking about for so long. I “should” put my name in the ring for that management position. Doing, or choosing, things because we think we should doesn’t give us the necessary enthusiasm or determination to do the necessary actions or take the necessary steps. It’s important to Thoughtfully pick a goal that you care about, and to spend some time thinking it through so that it rings true to you and you are willing to put in the time and effort to make it happen. One of the main Thoughtful Leadership tenets is to be authentic, and unless you pick a goal that authentically resonates with you, you will potentially be less than likely to see it through.
  • Be real – Another way goals go astray is that we’re not fully present to our situation and realities, and we therefore choose goals that are more of a fantasy. Being present is another Thoughtful Leadership tenet, and it includes being aware of what is currently real, and therefore attainable (albeit a stretch). If I were to set a goal of running a marathon in the next few months, it would be possible only in my imagination. If I were to set a goal of having another book published by March, it wouldn’t be possible. You need to be true to what is feasible or you shoot yourself in the foot from day one, and also present to yourself as you move through the goal process so that you can find (or build) the support you need on your path.
  • Find support – Accountability is a key factor in achieved goals and maintained resolutions. It is important to figure out what support would best encourage and sustain you, and how best to get it. It can be a friend, coworker, coach, partner, family member – whomever – just spend time building a support system so that when you need it, it is there for you.
  • Plan, prioritize, and plan again – The last Thoughtful Leadership tenet is being intentional. When you’re out to achieve a goal, especially a stretch goal, it’s essential to be very purposeful about every action you take, and even, if possible, many of the thoughts you have. Attainment takes planning and thinking things through. Realization of goals takes the ability to prioritize and put the most effort in the best places. By taking the time to be intentional about where you’re going, what you’re doing, and whom you’re doing it with, you strengthen your chances of getting there.
  • Look for what matters and celebrate – If you’ve been reading our Thoughtful Leaders Blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed that we’re firm believers in both focusing on the good and celebrating small successes along the way. To quote Rich Hanson, Ph.D. in his book Hardwiring Happiness, our brains are like Velcro for tough or bad situations and memories, and like Teflon for good ones. By actively paying attention to the positive situations, experiences, and feelings around and within you, you can retrain your brain to hold onto more good, and by celebrating successes along your way to your goal(s), you can fuel yourself to keep going, especially when the going gets tough. Notice and reinforce your wins, your joys, and your accomplishments, and you can help yourself have more.

It is a time of (often dropped) New Year’s resolutions, and it can be a time of successful new starts. By taking these five simple steps (and then maybe taking them again), you can stick to your goals and see your results.

How have you successfully made new starts?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

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