The tradition of making New Year resolutions appears to have been as strong as ever this year. But, the common message I've heard is "I'm not very good at sticking to my resolutions but I'm going to try again". In fact, the results of a recent survey indicate that less than 10% of resolutions made in January survive to December, and this made me wonder why we struggle to keep promises to ourselves. Some suggestions are... * We are too ambitious when setting ourselves a challenge * When we realise the extent of the tasks required to achieve a goal, it's too daunting * It seemed like a good idea at the time, or put another way, our resolve is not as strong as our intentions * One slip up and we call it a day * We quickly forget our good intentions Behavioural research reveals that we have a tendency to be optimistic, and often over confident, when it comes to setting our goals and intentions. Consequently, it's easy to over reach and become discouraged when the effort and commitment required becomes clear. One answer is be kind to yourself and perhaps lower your sights and focus on what you really believe to be achievable within a realistic timeframe. If necessary, break down your goal into manageable steps and plan how you can succeed. Why not give yourself little rewards along the way as you get across the line at each stage. Don't fear failure. Setbacks are normal. Put them [...]
Do you remember a time when you reminisced about a past event that brought you pleasure and the memory of it raised a little inner smile? In a quiet moment most of us have. In fact, by concentrating on a particular memory it can almost have the same effect as the original experience. Turning up an old photograph may trigger not just clear memories but the associated feelings as well. Think of a time when you were at your best. This might be a work memory when you were really engaged by a task, completing or starting an exciting project, or really on top of your game. It might equally be an experience from outside work where you felt a strong sense that all was well with the world, and with you. Jack Russell, the Gloucestershire and England cricketer throughout the 1990’s, was a firm believer in positive reinforcement from past successes. He watched videos of his best catches behind the wicket before a match to influence his mindset. At the time it was considered by many as a little way-out, but today's athletes have it as their basic preparation for every event. So when you need your spirits lifted find some quiet time for a walk down memory lane to revisit bright spots from the past. Revel in the warm glow until you feel a lot more optimistic about what you have to do next. "There is no black-and-white situation. It's all part of life. Highs, lows, middles"... Van [...]
Resilience is a little like patience, it comes naturally to some but for the majority of us it's a matter of learning new methods and ways of finding calm. It's completely necessary for ordinary working lives and has become fundamental to being able to cope with ever increasing acceleration of change and expectations in today's society. In an age of information overload our days are spent running faster just to catch up. The treadmill is relentless and doesn't give you much time to take stock, and maybe think ahead to what is really important in your life. Think about a time when you became consumed with a growing pile of things to do or issues presenting obstacles in your life. You reach a point where the only focus you have is on what is in front of you and the need to get through that day. In this situation taking a step back and reviewing what is best for you, your business, and interacting with people that are important to you seems impossible. Often it's a conflict between work and our private life that compounds the situation. We are all able to work on our own resilience but there are only a few people with the capability to help others to affirm and build resilience. It could simply be that drawing on some perspective helps. There is also something basically reaffirming when you can share your thoughts and feelings with someone who is willing to listen, encourage, suggest different ways [...]
Take an objective look at where your time is actually spent. In business thousands of pounds are spent every year on time-management programmes but there is a simple truth… there are only so many hours in the day, and you can’t dig yourself out of a problem by pretending that you can create more time. If you accept the fact that your time is finite and your energy is not limitless, it’s worthwhile thinking about what it delivers. Let’s say you’re fully awake and energised for about 60 hours a week. Then consider this: Where does that time go? If you think of time as an investment, what would the return look like? What is your personal return on the time invested? Failure to manage the pressure on your time can lead to a sense of being unproductive. When you get to that frustrating point of feeling “I’ve been busy but what have I actually achieved?”; then it’s time to re assess how to make the best use of your time. Remember that talking it through with somebody you trust or a mentor can often be a great help. Don’t just work hard, work hard on the things that matter. […]
Create a little more self belief Imagine you are standing in a space with your toes against a dotted line. On this side of the line you believe your negative thoughts. You accept that how you see things now is the way you will always see them. Any adverse feelings that you have about the way others see you and your future prospects will just continue. You are firmly convinced that the pattern is set and there are no other options available. The other side of the dotted line comes from your memory of who you are on a good day. Think of what you achieved. Remember how you felt and how things looked at the time. Now for the good news. You don't need to change everything to cross the dotted line and reconnect with the productive you. You don't have to fix every problem and deal with every uncertainty that you are facing. You only need to choose to do one thing - take a single step over the line. This could be a decision to put off something unimportant that's worrying you, or to act on part of a problem. Perhaps even deciding that now is a time to trust your judgement and make a commitment to follow through with something. When we think of committing to difficult challenges or change it's normal to imagine a long hard climb up the hill. The important question is not what is going to stop you from reaching the top, [...]
Of all the thinking patterns that contribute to unhappiness, it's the 'shoulds' that are the most pervasive and unhelpful. 'Shoulds' play a major role in feelings such as anger, resentment, and bitterness. They reflect our expectations of how people ought to behave and how the world ought to be... My friends should be supportive My son should study hard for his exams My husband should be able to communicate well My wife should want the same things that I do My work colleagues should be conscientious My boss should be fair The trains should run on time Pet owners should clean up after their pets Neighbours should keep their music down Any of these beliefs can cause us to feel angry if we hold them as absolute truths rather than preferences. This is because the world does not conform to anyone's rules, let alone our rules. Rigid, inflexible expectations simply make us anger-prone. Of course, this is not to say that we should have no expectations of others, or that we should accept unreasonable behaviour without challenging it. At times it's important to take a stand and do what we can to resolve an injustice. However, it's also important to be flexible, and accept that in the real world, people will not always do what we think they should 'Enabling you to achieve your potential'
It's very clear that interest and focus on personal improvement is now greater than ever. What is really encouraging is the extent to which business is embracing this trend with a recognition that supporting individuals to succeed and grow as a person actually shows itself in the results being achieved. This goes beyond job training. It's about building self belief and a positive mindset that leads to... more creativity feeling empowered greater confidence the ability to choose the best path and take it! There will always be some organisations that create a pretence of being forward thinking and progressive, which can be a bit of a flimsy disguise. But, by far the majority in my experience have a genuine intent to establish meaningful engagement with a clear mission to make it happen. Whether you are being supported with your development within the job you have, or taking control of your own personal improvement, set your goals and don't hold back. 'Enabling you to achieve your potential'
Target fatigued? Why not consider goals instead. Why does the issue of achieving targets in business, and your personal life, generate so much frustration these days? This is a growing topic with many that I speak to. Arbitrary targets based on expectations without solid foundations are a real turn off, and worse still have little chance of succeeding without a belief that they can be achieved. Why then are targets still the main driver for many? The term 'target fatigue' is becoming more and more common. So why not switch the focus to achieving your goals as an alternative? By changing targets to goals you can increase your chances of producing results. Constructing a step by step plan to achieve a goal puts substance into the process and generates a real 'buy in' and a motivation to succeed. Avoid pitching yourself into a delusional zone that is probably no more than wishful thinking, however, as this will produce an entirely different outcome. Part of the process is judging just how relevant and achievable your goals are. From there you can put down markers to assess progress against your gameplan and the timescale you have decided is within reach. Goals that are too easy or hard aren't compelling, but hitting the sweet spot in between may be the challenge and outcome you are looking for. As you decide where to pitch your expectations aim high. Stretching ourselves brings a tangible feeling of satisfaction and helps all of us to grow as [...]
I was reminded recently of the quote “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. The sentiment is sound. Learn from past experience, both good and bad. In terms of our own wellbeing however, it’s essential to recognise that we are not defined by the things we did or didn’t do in the past. Becoming consumed with events we have lived through to the point of being unable to see a brighter future ahead can be self defeating. The idea of changing our lives for the better may be appealing, but often it’s the uncertainty of leaping into the dark that holds us back. Finding the motivation and confidence to change this into a positive leap of faith is what will make the difference. Maybe beginning with just a small step, what improvement would you choose to introduce into your life right now?