Too early to give up on  your new year resolutions
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Too early to give up on your new year resolutions — Now is the time to start

As an executive educator and coach, I spend the first few weeks of the New Year working with leaders and organisations to review their year, harvest lessons and insights and plan for the year and beyond. 

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I visited a client's office for a coaching session on the 25th of January. When I took the newspaper while waiting, I saw the article I wrote for that week, The Year Resolution you are avoiding to make. I encouraged the person who welcomed me to read it and mentioned that I would ask for feedback at the end of the meeting. 

The coaching session was over, and I wanted to find out if she had made any resolutions about her work. 

She told me she started laughing as soon as she read the first paragraph of the article. Her New Year resolution is to go to the gym. She and her colleague have paid for a gym membership nearby but haven't gone yet. We both laughed. She promised (or should I say, she resolved) to start.

February is here, and I trust you are keeping up with your New Year's resolutions. It is no news that most New Year resolutions get abandoned before the end of January. 

In some cases, they never get off the ground. Hence, I decided to focus my first three articles on developing effective New Year resolutions with the hope that the insights can support you to carry on with your New Year resolutions.

I believe the new year is an opportunity for a fresh start and to pursue your long-term aspirations. However, you must approach the activity with careful preparation.Unfortunately, most people are not able to do this. 

As we approach the end of the year, we become too busy working extra hard to end the year on a high. Then we get into a celebration mode. 

Christmas is here, of course, we must celebrate. 

These celebrations carry on into the new year. With no time to reflect on the year and the changes we would like to make in our lives, we rush to set new year goals we have not had much time to consider. 

Hence, most New Year goals are short-term, and we tend to give up on them as soon as we hit a bump on the road. The best goals we can set for ourselves are long-term goals that draw out the best in us. 

New you goals, not new year resolutions:

If you have not set your New Year resolutions yet, there is still time to do so. You have the opportunity to set your goals not only for a new year but for a new you. 

Every day is a new day to reach for the best version of yourself. And it starts with clearly articulating who you would like to be and the impact you want to make in your world. 

You cannot do this lightly. You will need time for careful reflection. 

Here are a couple of questions to assist you in doing this. What did you achieve in 2023? What made it possible to achieve them? What challenges did you overcome? What lessons can you learn from these? As you look forward to the future, consider the person you would like to be (probably a decade from now) and what you need to do to have the life and impact you desire. 

New you goals for the long term:

For example, the goal is not necessarily to pay for a gym membership. The goal here is to be healthy and fit and to be able to enjoy the life she wants to live. 

You may call it a New Year resolution, but this is a long-term goal. You have to choose to focus on the long term despite the constant pressure to live from year to year. Every new year goal should tie into your carefully articulated long-term goal.

By examining her lifestyle, she will find a couple of actions she can take to improve nutrition, rest and exercise. These three areas are the foundations of our health and physical wellness.

Start small but be consistent:

A critical requirement to achieving long-term and meaningful goals is to start small and be consistent. You can do this by tapping into opportunities that are part of your existing routines and require less effort. 

Apart from paying for a gym membership, my new friend has several opportunities to improve her health and fitness. She can take the stairs instead of using the lift. Plan to take deliberate breaks from her desk. 

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Decide not to eat lunch at her desk. Undertake the regular annual medical check-up offered by the company. Put her phone away so she can have a great sleep. Deliberately taking the look route to the car park after work can also be a great workout.

Check-in on your progress:

You must set aside time for regular review of your progress by taking note of circumstances that trigger positive and negative behaviours. 

These enable you to plan to amplify positive triggers and eliminate negative triggers. For example, you can learn to withdraw from situations that make it difficult to follow your practice of healthy eating. 

On the journey of progress, we must also acknowledge that we may fall short of the standards we have set for ourselves, and it is OK so long as we pick ourselves up and get back on track. A skipped session does not mean you have failed your practice or routine. Pick yourself up and get back on track. 

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Thank God all the ducks do not have to be in a role to be healthy. There is room for everyone who starts small and works consistently, even if they do not sign up for a gym membership. Our life is a never-ending journey towards achieving the best version of ourselves. 

Be of good cheer.

The writer is a Leadership Development Facilitator, Executive Coach and Strategy Consultant, Founder of the CEO Accelerator Program, (https://ceoacceleratorprogram.org) and Chief Learning Strategist at TEMPLE Advisory (www.thelearningtemple.com).

The mission of The Leadership Project is to harvest highly effective leadership practices and share them in a manner that other leaders can easily incorporate into their leadership practice.

If you have an idea or leadership practice to share, kindly write to [email protected]. Until you read from us again, keep leading…..from leader to leader, one practice at a time.

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