Forget New Years Resolutions, Set Goals and Intentions Instead

As we approach 2023, I encourage you to set realistic goals and intentions for the New Year

It’s no secret that many New Years Resolutions are broken or forgotten within months, while properly established goals can be achieved within your own specified timeline. If you want to be successful with the goals that you set, try connecting your goals with good feelings and projected positive outcomes. Visualize how you will feel when you achieve your goal and allow the pursuit of that feeling to motivate you to act.

We can always motivate ourselves if we have a vision to keep us on track

Looking Back At 2022

Did you set goals this year? Have you met them as planned? Consider how these goals make you feel today. If you’ve met them, did the outcome meet your expectation? If you haven’t met them – do these goals continue to make you feel motivated to act? Or is there something about them that makes it unlikely to see yourself prioritizing them any time soon?

It’s ok to re-assess your goals and re-work your career plans for the coming year – in fact, it’s encouraged. Change can be good, and you want to have goals that you’ll be motivated to work towards.

To get started, identify the reasons that your 2022 goals were not met and, if they are still relevant, re-work your plan and remove the barriers that initially kept you from meeting them.

If you are unsure what those barriers are, I can help you with that. A career coach can guide you with the right questions to ask yourself during the reflection process.

Don’t be afraid to enter 2023 with fresh new goals that you’ll be motivated to achieve – be invigorated by the possibility of your intentions instead!

Measuring Your Growth

The only way to be sure you’ve grown – is to measure your progress.

Did you have a wall in your home where your parents would measure and mark your height every year so that you could see how tall you’d grown? While growing up isn’t a goal per se – we can learn something from this simple act of measuring it.

A visual reminder of where we’ve been and where we are now is one of the easiest ways to monitor our progress. Just like a child who gets excited to see how tall they’ve grown in a year; you can look forward to seeing your professional growth in much the same way.

How does this look for someone in an executive or leadership role? It could be as simple as a journal or a checklist app on your phone. Never underestimate the power of a visual checkmark next to an item on a list – it’s an affirmation that something has been done and that can be very satisfying. Checking things off of a list can motivate you to move on to the next item on said list too, and as that list gets smaller so will your desire to finish and be done with it.

Setting Realistic Timelines For Your Goals Is A Must

Setting Realistic Timelines for Your Goals

One of the biggest problems with New Years Resolutions is that they aren’t focused enough. Resolutions typically don’t include any sort of timeframe or measurable action.

Goals require reasonable timelines and measure our progress to keep us focused on the finish line.

The key is to set yourself up for success with realistic timelines for your goals. For example, let’s say you want to become more organized at work. If this has been an ongoing problem for you, it isn’t realistic to tell yourself that you can fix this overnight. Habits and patterns can be hard to break. You’ve got to give yourself more time. Try splitting this goal up into bite size pieces that will be easier to “chew”. You could set a goal to spend the first quarter of 2023 on implementing new systems to organize your work going forward. Next, you could set a goal for Q2 to go back to your previous work and convert it to your new system. If you focus on the new work first, you won’t feel like you’re falling behind. Feeling like we need to “catch up” can become a barrier to achieving a goal like this. The last thing you want is new work piling up while you work on this goal. It becomes a real-time reminder that you’re already “failing” at your new goal.

If you’re unsure how to get started, I can help you develop a plan that will work for you.

Goals Require More Than Just Positive Intentions

While realistic goals are great when linked to positive intentions, Dr. Gabriele Oettingen, a professor of psychology at New York University and author of the book “Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation” says that positive thinking may also hold us back if we let it.

Oettingen says that “the more positively people fantasize and daydream about their future success, the less well they do in terms of having actual success”.  The key is to be positive and realistic at the same time. Dr. Oettingen recommends using the W.O.O.P. technique – Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.

To use the W.O.O.P. technique you must first ask yourself what you’re wishing for. Next you imagine the ideal outcome and envision how it will be to fulfill your wish/goal. Next you must consider obstacles – what has stopped you in the past and what could stop you now? Finally, you develop a plan to meet your goal despite the obstacles you know that you will face.

Dr. Oettingen says that it takes time to answer these questions and that we should find a quiet place to reflect if we want to be successful. I agree wholeheartedly, it’s important to take time and find a place when and where you can reflect without distractions.

Using A Goal Planning Tool Can Help

The final week of December can be quiet between the holidays. It’s a great time to reflect on our goals, set new intentions, and prepare for the upcoming new year. Ask yourself what you’d like to see change in your career between now and this time next year. Ask yourself what is serving you well in your life right now, and what you would like less of. And ask yourself what you really want to accomplish in 2023.

Reflection is an important part of change management. We need benchmarks and checkpoints to help us meet goals. A goal without structure is merely an idea. We all come up with great ideas, but few of us have time to turn them into something more. A good good framework can really help.

Download my Goal Planner (click on the image to the right) and use it to help you achieve your best results – consider this my holiday gift to you!

Image of Catherine Thorburn's Goal Planner 2022

Reflecting and Preparing for the New Year

Once you’ve reflected on your new or renewed focus, think of a few goals. Ask yourself if you can achieve in a specific and measurable timeframe. If you can, write them down and use these goals to motivate you in 2023. It’s a much more direct approach than simply making resolutions on New Years Eve.

If you really want to dive deep and set yourself up for success, book a coaching session with me today so that we can work on your 2023 goals together.

Lastly, I hope that you have a wonderful holiday, a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.