Making your resolutions stick

It’s that time of year when many of us are looking to make commitments to do things differently in our personal lives. However, I also want to reflect on workplace resolutions too. Success in making changes to your leadership style or to the way your team operates is based on the same principles as success with your personal resolutions. Whether it’s losing a few pounds, getting fitter, or spending more time with your team, the secrets to successfully making your resolutions stick follow the same pattern.

1. Persistance

If you have a fatalistic attitude and think you are going to fail…guess, what? You probably will. Be aware that no matter how hard you try, sometimes some of your old habits might creep back. But don’t give up, see these temporary set-backs as normal and not an excuse to give up all together. Take every day at a time and start again tomorrow if you feel today has been less than perfect.

2. Tell others

Tell other what you are trying to do and use them to help you stick to your goals. If your family or team know you are trying to change your habits, you will have an external support mechanism and others who can hold you to account.

3. Chart your progress

Keep a log of whatever you’ve done to contribute to your resolution. Whether it calories reduced, miles (or kilometres) run or positive interactions with your partner, keep a log on paper or digitally. Review what you have achieved regularly and use this as an antidote to the temptation to give up (see “Persistence” above).

4. Celebrate tiny wins

Don’t be too ambitious at first. Set yourself a goal you can achieve and celebrate “tiny wins”. Small but consistent steps forward can accumulate to make up to something much bigger. Any achievement, no matter how insignificant, activates the reward mechanisms in our brains and that give us a feeling of achievement and pride.

5. Know your triggers

In my recent blog about behaviour change, I talked about the importance of triggers. Knowing what is likely to trigger the behaviour you are trying to increase or decrease is key to making your resolutions stick. For example, putting the sugar bowl in the high cupboard and not next to the kettle will make it easier to make the switch to giving it up putting it in your coffee. Remove or add the trigger that is likely to get you to do what you want.

Making your resolutions stick at work

The principles above apply equally in the workplace. Whether you are committing to more face-to-face communication rather than via email or aiming to have a team meeting at least one a month:

  • Be persistent and don’t be put off by minor setbacks
  • Tell your colleagues what you are trying to do and ask them to give you feedback
  • Log your progress
  • Celebrate your tiny wins, no matter how small
  • Be aware of the triggers that drive your old/new behaviours.

That way you’ll have a better chance of successfully making your resolutions stick.