When I was younger, I was a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I would make a list of things I wanted to improve or learn in the New Year. To improve my swimming, take up dancing again, find a new job, see my parents more often… I would make a step or two towards my resolutions in early January, then life would get underway and I would forget about them.
My story is not atypical. We all know that New Year’s Resolutions have a very low success rate. In fact, studies show that 88% of people fail to hold on to their end-of-the-year goals. The reasons are two-fold: the resolutions we make are usually not specific enough and often unrealistic, and, more importantly, they do not take into account our fears or the underlying roots of an issue.
Yet since having clear goals is a key to success, why not try something new to kick off 2017?
Here’s a simple coaching formula that I’ve been using with my clients (and myself) that can help you achieve your goals. I suggest that you go through this exercise when you have 45 minutes or more of undisturbed time.
1.Name 2 things in which you made progress in 2016.
If nothing comes to mind, reflect and try harder. Take a moment to feel pride and satisfaction about your wins, no matter how small. This step is designed to lift your energy and get you into a positive mindset.
2. Choose an area of your life where you want to see a positive change in 2017.
For instance, for my client Garance, the main area is her career and finding a new job. Year after year she promises to herself that she’ll find a more meaningful and satisfying new job and in the end, despite her efforts, nothing happens.
For Alissa, it is writing a book she’s been carrying in her head for years. She is busy with her job and family, and there is no time. Each January Alissa is determined to change this, and each December, Alissa feels sad that another year went by and she is still at the same place.
3. Describe the desired result, being as specific as possible, and using positive language.
Here’s Garance’s result: “I am working in a company where people care about each other. I am feeling recognized and valued, and making 100k per year.”
Alissa’s result: “I’ve finished writing my book and am waiting for it to be published by a great publisher.”
4. What is one thing you need to focus on consistently to get to that result?
The Pareto principle states that roughly 20 % of the right effort is responsible for about 80 % of the effects. I encourage you to go even narrower, and find one most important thing that can bring about the desired result.
Garance’s one thing: “Polish and sharpen my value proposition.”
Alissa’s one thing: “Write daily.”
5. What fear or doubt you need to let go off to do that most important thing?
Garance: “The fear of not being good enough. An imposter syndrome.”
Alissa: “Self-doubt about not being a good writer.”
6. What one habit you need to develop to move forward despite your fears?
Garance: “I want to develop the habit of spending the first 30 minutes of my work day on visibility raising and career-planning activities.”
Alissa: “I want to write for 15 minutes first thing in the morning.”
Once you’ve identified a new habit, make sure it’s reasonable and achievable. For instance, Garance initially wanted to spend 45 minutes on her career every morning but that would have been a bit too ambitious, and would ultimately end in a failure.
7. What do you need to learn to say “NO” to, as a result of this new habit?
Garance: “I need to say “no” to checking my email box 1st thing in the morning and getting drawn to fire-fighting unexpected problems.”
Alissa: “I want to learn to say “no” to less important things that can keep popping up every day and that are easier to deal with than to write my book.”
Just like Garance and Alissa, you might realize that it is your fears as well as autopilot habits that are holding you back. Raise your consciousness about your blocks, choose your priorities every day, and then do your best to stay on track through kind encouragement and non-judgement.
One of my goals for 2017 is to make a bigger impact and help many more women thrive and get out of the shadows. You’re warmly invited to join my group coaching programme for women, who, just like you, want to get unstuck, move forward and play bigger. We will start in mid-January and there will be 2 groups: one meeting over Skype and one meeting in person in Paris. If interested, send me a brief reply, so I can forward you the details.