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Resolutions (Or Better Yet, 2023 Goals!)

Raise your hand if you make resolutions every year! Now, raise your hand if you keep them past the first week of January! How about February? (hmmm, I’m seeing less hands raised)

I found some interesting statistics about resolutions here. While about 41% of Americans make resolutions, only 9% of them are successful at keeping them. Seems pretty bleak. I mean, why even bother? Strava even dubs January 19 “Quitter’s Day,” the day that many people opt-out of meeting their resolution(s).

So, what we do? Should we forego making resolutions each year? Or do we strive to be the 9% that are successful? I’ve decided this year to strive for the 9% (I know, pretty lofty) and I invite you to join me. The first step for me is to dump the term “resolution” for myself and move towards creating goals for 2023. The term resolution, according to The Britannica Dictionary, is “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.” To me, that sounds like I’m a problem that needs to be fixed, not very inspiring. No wonder people aren’t accomplishing their resolutions. A goal, in the same dictionary, is defined as “something that you are trying to do or achieve.” That sounds more action-oriented and positive to me. I’m not a problem to be fixed, but rather an individual who can continuously improve. This shift in mindset about how I want to kick off the new year helps me put a more positive spin on entering 2023.

With this fresh perspective and focus on goals, here is my planning process to kickoff 2023 motivated, focused, and inspired:

  1. First, I block off time in December on my calendar for reflection and goal-setting. This year, I blocked off a half day for this activity. This means my email is shut off, my phone is silenced, I work in a space with a closed door, and I put do not disturb (DND) on my instant messages. I recommend at least two hours set aside for this activity (one hour each for professional and personal focus).
  2. Next, I look back at my calendar, emails, goals, and everything I participated in, accomplished, etc. over the last year. With a blank piece of paper or an open document on my computer, I list out:
    1. the accomplishments I am most proud of and/or had the biggest impact (what were my biggest wins?)
    2. the big misses (what were the biggest missed opportunities, mistakes, and/or items I didn’t accomplish?)
    3. the top learning moments (where did I grow the most? what were the biggest lightbulb moments for me? What new knowledge, skills, or abilities did I gain this year?)
  3. Then I review the list of wins, misses, and learnings to look for themes. Were there certain wins that stood out to me? Had a huge impact? Could I build off that? Was there a theme in the misses? Perhaps I notice that I didn’t spend enough planning time and it led to missing deadlines. Or I wasn’t engaging with key stakeholders and the final product wasn’t what the customer wanted. Or maybe I felt burnt out because I didn’t take enough time for self-care or I didn’t get to accomplish the work that matters to me the most. After reviewing your learnings, you may notice that the list is short and you want to spend more time on professional development. Or you learned a new skill that you want to take to the next level.
  4. Once I’ve identified the theme(s), I start thinking through the change(s) I want to make in the new year and I turn this into a goal. I like to use the SMART goals model to help me craft this. I recommend no more than one goal (or resolution if you want to stick with that term) professionally and one goal personally. At least to start. It keeps it simple and manageable. If you are a goal-pro (or an over-achiever), then no more than five total for the new year.
  5. Now that I have my goal(s), I’m done, right? Not yet. Now that you have the goal, you need to make it sustainable. For me, the next step is to create an action plan with milestones along the way. I review the goal and list out all the specific tasks I need to accomplish to reach it by the end of 2023. Then I post these tasks on the calendar. I think it’s helpful to add these tasks at least monthly (weekly is even better). That way reaching your goal is broken down into smaller chunks and you can celebrate these milestones regularly (which is very motivating). For example, if I am trying to expand my social network, I may post on my calendar to reach out to one new person a week and introduce myself. Or if I want to learn a new software tool, I block off 30 min on my calendar bi-weekly to learn a different component of the tool.
  6. Finally, to make this truly sustainable, I share my goals with at least one other person that can help support me and hold me accountable to accomplishing what I set out to do at the beginning of the year.

I wish you luck on your goals (or resolutions) journey for 2023! Keep it simple, focus on something you are passionate about, and have fun with it! (and wish me luck too, my reflection/goal session is set for December 20, 2022).