The first 10 -15 days of January are already gone – and you are in the majority if most, if not all, of your 2015 resolutions have already bit the dust. Today’s Delfi Column discusses some tricks to setting and managing resolutions so that they actually do have staying power and make a difference.
Let’s turn to research in the business world to get started. John Zenger and Joseph Folkman are well-published authors on Leadership Competencies and 360 Feedback Assessments. Their research studies consistently demonstrate a interesting finding about the best way to achieve noticeable improvements in one’s leadership effectiveness (as measured by surveys of their direct reports and bosses). Their not-so-obvious answer is to focus on increasing the use and visibility of one’s strengths rather than focusing on those leadership behaviors that have been rated weakest. Observers rate the improvement in the leader’s effectiveness 2 or 3 times higher when the leader is focused of building strengths rather than fixing a weakness.
This certainly contradicts the normal approach taken by many of us We almost always strive to become better by focusing attention and effort on addressing one or more identified weakness. Research shows that most of our New Year’s Resolutions are focused on self-improvement through addressing a weakness, with a success rate of less than 10% on average. But the simple fact is that we enjoy doing what we are good at – and we often avoid or procrastinate doing those things that we are not so good at. This is the secret of success.
When we build a plan – or a resolution – focusing on increased use of one of our strengths, we are far more likely to stick with the planned change than if we are tackling something that we really do not enjoy doing. The longer that we keep doing something, the more likely it becomes an enduring behavior pattern, wired into our brains, with the result that it is much easier to keep achieving the change.
Hence, setting New Year’s resolutions about using more of your strengths, and paying less resolving attention to your weaknesses, is a great way to change your success rate. Another example of this principle is to start your next team meeting with the question: “What is an area of success since our last meeting – and what do we have to do to have more of these experiences”? It is a more energizing, engaging and upbeat conversation than starting the meeting focusing on a problem.
Here are a few other pointers to help increase your resolution success rate. Write down your resolution and how people will react to you differently once you have achieved your goal. What with they and you be seeing and saying that is different than today ? Visualizing success makes the goal more attractive – and hence commands more of your energy. To modify a famous quote by Ghandi,” you must do the change that you want others to see in you”.
Start with small steps and build a plan to success. Large goals create procrastination and easy admission of defeat. Smaller goals create optimism, enthusiasm and energy. And winning can be contagious – so set yourself up to win by setting smaller, but achievable goals. The recovering alcoholic’s most important and repeatable goal is to remain sober for the all of today. If it looks achievable, then it often becomes so.
Set up a measurement system that allows you to track your performance. There is a reason that the scoreboard occupies such a predominate place in every sporting facility. You always know when you are winning or losing. Metrics focus the mind, the effort and the determination. Do yourself, and your business a favor, and establish a scoreboard or a tracking system to chart progress towards a goal.
It’s the middle of January, and your traditional resolutions may have already fallen by the wayside. But we both know that you can make change resolutions at any time in your personal life – or in your business. The opportunity door did not slam shut on January 2nd for the rest of the year. Find a strength that you wish to focus more attention on, visualize what success looks like, build an achievable plan, put a progress tracking system in place, and start doing the change that you want others to see in you or your business. You deserve to have fun and experience success in the pursuit of improvement.