It is the end of another year and 2018 will soon be no more. 2019 is coming and many people will use this as an opportunity for reflection. The tradition of making resolutions for the new year ahead dates as far back as the Babylonians and the Roman Empire, when the focus was on committing to the gods, often as a means of atoning for sins of the previous year.
In the modern age, people treat the promises of a new year with a varying degree of seriousness. For some, it is an opportunity to express a new focus on achieving life goals (I will get that promotion, lose that weight, find love, raise money for charity, etc). For some, it is an opportunity to right some wrongs from the year that has passed. Many just find a bit of fun in it. Motivations vary differently but for those who wish to put real effort into your resolutions this year, here are some ways in which some project management skills can help you:
Set your vision – if you really want to achieve change in your life (be it personal, professional, spiritual, etc) then you must start with a clear understanding of the result you are aiming to achieve. Those who start with “I will lose weight” often struggle with focus and motivation because their goal is not specific enough to give them a means of measuring progress (you could achieve your resolution within a week, at that rate). Be creative in how you capture your ambitions too, from colourful charts to videos of you making your pledge!
Top Tip: Try creating a statement for your vision that is written as if you have already achieved it, for example “I have lost two stone in weight for my summer holiday”. It becomes easier to visualise as well as manage if you are talking with the voice of your future self.
Plan it properly– your resolutions will not simply happento you on the first day in January, at least the best ones don’t. Planning is crucial to not only achieving your goal but monitoring your progress and maintaining your motivation. You will struggle to correct your course during the tough days if you can’t see how you are getting on against the longer term aims you set around Christmas time. Goals like “I will save enough money for a deposit for a house” that have many variables will need some structure and maybe detailed activities to achieve.
Top Tip – Your resolution may not take a year to achieve but no matter what it is, try to break it down into 6-12 steps whether that takes 12 months or 12 days; this way, you can maintain momentum over short and long term goals by checking on your progress more regularly.
Embrace Change – the more specific you make your goals, the greater the chance that you may have to revise them as you go along. Setting yourself a task like “I will find love this year” may be difficult to pin down the specifics although there are plenty of positive steps you could take to make it happen. Do not be afraid to re-evaluate your goals and take account of new situations or opportunities (it may not take you all year to bump into that special someone). There is nothing wrong with moving your targets or even accepting that your motivations at the beginning of the year can change as the year progresses.
Top Tip – If you are going to write down your goals and keep them somewhere visible, use a temporary method like a whiteboard and marker pen that will help you change and tweak your goals at a later date.
Learn lessons – You can only look forward if you think about where you have been and where you are starting from in the new year. That overwhelming need to achieve something can lead you to setting an unrealistic goal if you do not stop to think about why you may have been unsuccessful in achieving it in the past. For example, trying to gain a promotion in your job may have been an aim in previous years so look at what you need to do to give yourself a better chance of success this time around.
Top Tip – Try not to just focus on the negatives but look at your great successes from the past for learning and inspiration about potential resolutions for next year. Maybe your previous attempts at gaining promotion had some hidden opportunities in there, if you excelled in one aspect of your role that may open up other routes to career progression.
Whatever you think about new years resolutions, they have the potential to give your 2019 some focus, inspiration and motivation. It is up to you how you manage them, whether you broadcast your ambitions or keep them personal for yourself. You have the ability to achieve anything you want by working hard enough to turn your dreams into realities. Before you delve into your plans for the new year, take some time to reflect on what 2018 has been for you; whether it tested you or empowered you, brought you grief or joy, made you strong or grateful or honest…it is the foundation from which you will launch yourself into the year ahead.