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Why Your Resolutions Will Never Happen

by John Zettler

January 10, 2017

… Unless You Do Something Different!

Let me guess, you made some resolutions, even if only in your head, about what you’re going to do differently this year, and 2017 is the year of change for you.  For those of you who made a resolution to show up differently at work, have a better attitude, be more assertive, be more confident, and just generally be more effective at work, what’s the likelihood that any of that is actually going to happen?

Our experience suggests, unfortunately, that none of these things will actually happen.  Well, if you want to be different this year, then you should definitely read on.

The challenge with resolutions is that they’re generally about fixing something or improving something that’s a stretch or challenge for you.  “I’m going to be more confident at work, I’m going to be happier at work, or I’m going to stand out at work this year.”  The challenge is, in the words of Harvey Brooker, “If you could do it on your own, you would have done it already!”  And it goes deeper than that.

Why You Don’t Follow-Through

We need to start by understanding what gets in your way of achieving your goals.  Like most, you go into these resolutions with a positive attitude.  You know you want to change something, you even know you need to change something, and in most cases you actually have the ability to change something.  I know I want to go to the gym more frequently, I know I need to go to the gym more frequently, and I sure do have the ability to go to the gym more frequently.  So why don’t I go to the gym more frequently?

It’s because I lack the true motivation towards the change I want.  Let’s call it what it is, whenever we want to change something about ourselves we have an internal struggle with the fact that we’re comfortable doing what we’ve been doing all along.  What are you comfortable with that you want to change?  Maybe it’s one of the things I cited above – maybe you need to be more confident, show up differently, be more positive, be more influential, be able to speak in front of people – whatever it is for you, you can do it – you just choose not to because you’re comfortable.  In essence, it’s the fact that growth and comfort can’t coexist and you ultimately lack the motivation to make the change.

If you truly want to do something different this year, it starts with changing the ‘want’ to a ‘will’, and that will require you to get uncomfortable, stretch yourself, and then figure out how to keep it going.  So, how do you actually do that?

Following Through and Making the Change

1. Create a Sense of Urgency – Why is this important to you in the first place, why do you want (or need) to make this change?  As John Kotter, a leader in change management, says, “Creating a sense of urgency is about helping people see the need for change either to take advantage of an opportunity or to deal with an issue that is holding us back.”  Here are some questions you can ask yourself to shape your thinking and determine if you even really want to change:

  • Why is the status quo no longer acceptable?
  • What happens if I do nothing?
  • What are the benefits of changing?
  • How will this change affect others around me?

2. Break the Goal into Bite-Size Pieces – I’m going to facilitate 3 Leadership Training programs this year.  It takes a Dale Carnegie instructor a lot of hours to become certified as a trainer, so rather than only looking at the end game, it’s important to break things down into bite-size pieces.  1.) Take the program, 2.) Be an assistant coach in the program, 3.) Study the facilitator manual to become familiar with content, 4.) Go to Instructor Training, 5.) Co-facilitate the program at least 2 times, 6.) Instruct the program on my own.  It took me almost a year to complete this goal and only now I’m at the 6th step.  If we build goals that are too daunting or too big, we tend to lose focus and lose momentum.  Break them down into smaller, doable pieces.

3. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable – As we mentioned in the onset of this, growth and comfort can’t coexist so as you move through the change(s), we need to get comfortable that this is hard, that this is different, and that it requires us to create a positive tension towards the change so that we don’t revert back to the way we were.

4.  Remove Roadblocks – Our minds are perfectly hardwired to spot the negative in situations.  When the going gets tough it’s all too easy to think of these roadblocks, often creating even more of them, and then giving up all together.  Instead of giving up, we need to be aware of potential roadblocks and come up with solutions as to how to get around them or eliminate them.

5. Be Kind to Yourself – As humans we also have a huge fear of failure.  This fear of failure is often engrained in us from our early childhood where we had people telling us that we didn’t do well enough on a test, or our coaches focused on the negatives in practices and games.  For some of us, we may even be compared to others and never seem to stack up.  As adults all of these become ways for us to sabotage ourselves.  We tell ourselves we can’t, we’re not good enough, etc.  Instead of this, be kind to yourself.  Allow yourself to be okay with the fact that you’re not perfect, that you may make mistakes along the way, that you may not always be on the perfect path, and that you can and will still make it to your goal.

6. Seek Support from Others – In all of our Dale Carnegie programs we have people make commitments in front of people.  When we ask them what that does for them, we always hear that saying it out loud creates a sense of accountability they didn’t have before.  Creating a support system around yourself is taking this even further.  It’s one thing to tell people you want to do something and it’s completely different to ask them to support you in the goal.  Giving them permission to call you out if you’re not holding up your end of the bargain and generally having someone to talk to when you feel yourself wavering.

7. Savour Success – I know this is one place I struggle.  I can’t seem to allow myself to see the successes.  I suspect I’m not the only one.  Because you’ve already broken your goal down into small steps, because you have a support system, because you’re going to focus on the positives, it should now be easier to allow yourself to savour the successes you’ve achieved – no matter how small they may feel.

Even with these steps, sustainable change is hard and we often need help to achieve it.  Well, for 104 years, that’s what we’ve been doing at Dale Carnegie.  Simply stated this is what we do: “We change how people see themselves, so they can change how the world sees them, and that changes the impact they have on the world.”

If you’re up for truly achieving your goals this year, we’ll help you see your full potential, we’ll help build your courage and confidence to be the person you truly want to be, and subsequently we’ll help you look really good at your job, which I think we can all agree is a good thing.

Call us today! We’re ready to work with you

Best Success!

John Zettler, Director, Talent Strategy
& Development, Dale Carnegie Training®
Contact me at 905-826-7300 x 230 or jzettler@dalecarnegie.ca

Take a look at our previous Accelerated Talent Development Newsletters

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About the Author: John Zettler, Talent Strategy & Development, Dale Carnegie Training®

“John’s commitment and passion to the growth and development of individuals, teams and organizations is evident,” says Kevin Crone, President and Managing Partner, Dale Carnegie Business Group. “His engaging and collaborative approach along with his strong business acumen and focus on results make him a great fit for our team. We are thrilled he has decided to join us.”

Read more.

John Zettler brings almost 20 years of human resource experience to the challenge of better leadership we all share. He has invested his skills and energies and debated leadership with some of our country’s best leaders. Through this, he has refined a style of management that focuses on leadership conviction, authenticity and caring as the cornerstones of a more nuanced set of management skills we can all benefit from.

Instead of balance in our life, he challenges us to a new style of work life blending that both gives us:

The rush of seeing our people grow and prosper in a company that truly cares about them and their dreams.

The time and focus to also contribute the same level of passion to the needs of our families.

To hear the insights we captured in three minutes of his own words, watch the video.