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February 2006

Congratulations — You Made It Past January 24, 2006 — Now Get Serious About Your Goals!

Whew! January 24, 2006 has come and gone and you've made it past what, one British psychologist, Dr. Cliff Arnall, has dubbed the most depressing day of the year…January 24th. Our expert in “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD!) blames lack of light, bad weather, overeating end overspending during the holidays, among the reasons why people get a case of the mid-winter blues.

However, Dr. Kathleen Hall, a stress therapist, cites another important reason: “The third week in January is when people really start to feel the failure of their new year's resolutions.” Apparently in the first and second weeks of January, as we're re-grouping from the holidays, we blame the lack of progress on our newly declared goals on the excuse that we just need to get our lives back into a pattern and then we'll start turning over a new leaf. The problem, which you undoubedly can see, is getting “back to normal” means that we continue to use the same habits and patterns we are trying to break! So in the first three weeks of the year we can actually sabotage our ability to even get started on our new year's commitments!

I was recently working with a magazine publishing team on their strategic plan for the year. I started off the planning session by asking them first to report 2-3 personal things they'd accomplished in 2005 and what they had learned about themselves in the goal setting process. Here are some of their responses:

• I confirmed I really can accomplish stretch goals
• I used thoughtful planning before I started
• I was more direct in asking for help and focused on getting quicker results
• I was organized
• I followed-through
• I just started!

What we know is that it takes 21 days to acquire a new habit. Therefore, if you are going to achieve your new year's resolutions you must do something towards that new goal or new habit every day for at least 21 days to begin to create a new pattern of success for yourself.

So for example — if your resolution is to start working out with regular exercising, then you have to program into your calendar some form of exercise every day for 21 days straight, (e.g. walk from the train to the office, climb the stairs, get up earlier and work out with a T.V. or video program, etc). If you do this you'll begin to actually experience the positive results from this new pattern, and, as importantly, you'll gain confidence from the fact that you were able to start accomplishing a difficult goal — even with simple new steps.

So — not to worry if your new year's resolutions have failed. Take solace from the well-worn quote “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” — so just start!

Make Success Measurable: A Mindbook-Workbook for Setting Goals and Taking Actions.
By Douglas K. Smith

Douglas Smith, the co-author of the Wisdom of Teams has written a very practical workbook for helping you and your team develop specific goals and action strategies to achieve them. It is a good adjunct to Kaplan and Norton's concept of “The Balanced Scorecard” because it helps you implement that concept with practical exercises and tools.

In a work place environment where we are inundated with instant information and countless opportunities, Smith's goal setting structure helps to focus on what outcomes will really matter to your organization, your customer, your team members and you. He argues that “performance begins with focusing on outcomes instead of actions” and suggests that far too many of us fill our work days with meetings, clearing out our email inboxes and checking off activity based To Do lists that may have only peripheral relevance to achieving meaningful metric-based outcomes.

A very helpful chapter in the book is called “Pick Relevant Metrics” that helps you to select the right measures to ensure success. He makes the point, for example that goals need to be outcome — based or: SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound.

Although this is primarily a business book, the principles of focus and accountability can apply to any type of project management and to personal goal achievement, as well.

Actions for Results:
Tips and Tools for Achieving Successful Resolutions and Goals

§ Establish a Goal Vision — This represents the ultimate outcome you want to achieve. Literally find or draw a picture that best describes yourself having achieved your goal, whether it's becoming number 1 in your market (business) or losing weight.

§ Establish your Measures of Success. — The NBC Today Show weatherman is going to lose 20 pounds in 3 months. A magazine publisher sets a goal of X# of ad pages at net revenue per page.

§ Identify the Major Strategies that would enable you to achieve that goal — For weight loss you would probably put in both a nutrition, and an exercise strategy.

§ Use your Calendar, to program your success — This will help you ensure that you make progress each day (for a habit) or each week (for a project).

§ Celebrate Success! — Every 21 days review the progress that you've made and give yourself some form of reward for even baby steps taken.

EquiPro Solutions and Learning Products

EquiPro's mission is to inspire and guide leaders, teams and organizations to solutions that will enable them to achieve their best results and their highest potential. We believe that your best results in the future begin with being honest with yourself and others about the reality you are facing today.

If you want to engage your team in a goal-setting exercise for 2006 we have developed, as part of The World Class Teams Series™, the Team Goal Development and Alignment. Program. A one day session to ensure that everyone on your team has a clear view of what they will be working to accomplish over the next year. In addition, we have a new program called “Reach for Your Goals”™, aimed at helping individuals to achieve work-life balance by planning for and achieving their “Goals for Life”.

“Frequently, the difference between success and failure is the resolve to stick to your plan long enough to win.”

David Cottrell


Lynda McDermott

Lynda is honored to be one of over 570
Certified Speaking Professionals
in the United States


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