It’s the same every year. Christmas feels long gone, 2022 has ended with the usual review, and we hope that the year hurtling towards us will be better.
But already we are being hit with rising costs, strikes, and all kinds of turmoil. Personal, professional, and sometimes within our family.
Even the royal family can’t escape trouble. Sure, they don’t have our money worries – but with Harry and Meghan airing their family’s business for all the world to see, and the launch of Harry’s tell-all book Spare about to released, they have heartache (and a headache) ahead.
Yet that doesn’t stop us, in fact it gives us more reason every year to start thinking about the things we’d like to see happen; the things we’d like to do differently, or the person we want to become. It’s at this time of year when we pledge to change, and we are absolutely determined to make it happen. Aren’t we?
It’s the time for setting our New Years’ Resolutions. I mean, it’s the tradition, isn’t it?
Everyone does it (probably), we all talk about it, it’s fun – and it’s the thing to do. And that’s the problem.
We do it because it’s tradition, because we feel socially pressured into it and because it’s supposed to be fun. Which is why most of us, by the middle of February, will have given up on them adding more to the gloominess that we often feel in January.
Sometimes, the pressure to do what we think we should be doing is the very reason we don’t achieve it. If this isn’t a surprise to you, you’re not on your own. We know this really, don’t we?
Sadly, I’ve coached many people who vow to change because they’re trying too hard to please someone else, or to live up to the expectations of those around them. They’re setting goals straight after Christmas because they’ve eaten a little too much and those diet adverts (that are everywhere) are guilt tripping them. Or their friends - or even worse, social media - are telling them that somehow, in some way, they’re not good enough.
Perhaps it is time for change, but if you really do want it – do it on your terms, and without dragging anyone else down in the process (yes Harry, I am talking about you).
Personal goals can be set at any time of the year, and I’d advocate that you think seriously before you go for it – so starting at the middle or end of January is a better time to start. But equally, you can set them and get on the right path in any month of the year.
Don’t follow the crowd, follow your own path, and take yourself seriously in the process.
So, I’m not saying you shouldn’t set goals for yourself – but I am saying think long and hard about what it is you want to achieve, and why. And, when you’re ready, here are a few tips to guide you:
Make sure you’re doing it for you
You don’t have to conform to other peoples’ opinions on how you live your life, or what you should look like. Any change has to come because you are suiting yourself, and not someone else.
Decide what’s important to you and for you – whatever goals you decide on will need serious attention and hard work. They have to matter enough for you to stick to them.
Get clear, and specific about the goals you set
What exactly do you want to achieve, and by when? Don’t overload yourself – it’s better to focus right in on two or three goals and go all out than to set far too many goals to realistically work on.
The clearer you make your targets, the more chance you have of hitting them. Write them down. Break them down into smaller steps. And set some dates.
Prepare for the obstacles
Yes, you will hit them – let’s not pretend otherwise. What - or who – could get in the way or knock you off track?
Make a list of possible hurdles along with your plan to overcome them. This will help build both your confidence and your resilience. Falling down is never the issue, how long you stay down is.
All progress is good progress
We all want fast results, and it can be frustrating if you don’t see them quickly enough. But every tiny bit of progress is progress and means you’re further on than you were before you got started. Appreciate how far you’ve come, stick with it, and don’t give up.
Self–belief is your rocket fuel
I’m not one for cheesy expressions, but I do believe in this because it’s proven to be true. How you talk to yourself and how you manage your inner critic are instrumental in your success, regardless of who you are or where you are from.
Some of the most successful people, including the football World Cup superstar Lionel Messi, drive themselves on with quiet self-belief. Stay humble but know that you are capable of achieving big.
And in moments of doubt, look back at your proudest ‘wins’. Success is repeatable.
We don’t know what we’ll be facing in 2023 do we? But that shouldn’t stop any of us from getting out of life what we want, however hard that task seems.
So set yourself some serious goals and do it in your time and in your way. Because New Years’ Resolutions are a hype and a trap, and I say, ditch them.
Success isn’t meant to come easy.
Amana Walker is a performance coach who works with a range of business leaders and sports professionals. More info at www.amanawalker.com
You can listen to Amana on our self-improvement podcast series, The Reset Room.