It’s that time of year again isn’t it? Where many of us set ourselves New Year’s Resolutions and then fail to reach them within weeks or sometimes days! Despite having the best of intentions most of us aren't ready to change our habits. There are a variety of reasons for this:
We Don’t Like Change
Sometimes, we are just too comfortable with how we are. Changing will have all sorts of ramifications within our lives. There are things we know that will change. Things that we know we don’t know, but can foresee in some way. There are also things that we don’t know we don’t know. The unknown can feel quite scary so it can seem easier to sit tight.
It’s Not Us
We can often have an idea of how we should be that is dissociated from who we believe we really are. As a result we can have unrealistic expectations of the ways we feel we ought to live. For example, we feel that we should be this way or that way based on things we read in magazines or see in the world around us. Because of this mismatch we fail because the resolutions aren’t really us.
Owning our Shadows
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. Even when we might posses our own noble traits we can refuse them and project them onto another. We might want to be like a hero of ours, for example, and instead of embracing our own finest qualities within, our hero acts as a shadow substitute for gold that we could be opening up within ourselves. Again there is fear involved. Holding back from living fully can feel safer sometimes. We need to own our own shadow self to grow.
It’s Not Smart
Sometimes our goals just aren’t that SMART. They aren’t specific, measurable, achievable, relevant or time based enough. An example might be “I want to send more cards this year.” This goal is just too vague. If you want to have a smart goal it would be rephrased as “I want to send at least one card a week for the next 52 weeks.”
If you really want to achieve your goals, be prepared to embrace change, make sure your goal is something that is yours and not for someone else, make sure that it’s a smart goal and then be brave in the face of fear or the unknown both externally and within. You never know, it may turn out a lot better than you fear. So, how do you make it happen?
To be successful with your goals you’ll need to do the following:
Find Your Why
To be sure of sticking with your New Year’s resolutions we have to find a compelling reason to change. Your ‘what’ is your goal. I’m going to send a card a week next year” is my ‘what’. Your ‘why’ drives you towards your purpose. Find a why that inspires you. What is a cause that feels bigger than you? It should feel exciting and perhaps a little daunting. Listen to your feelings on this one.
The word ‘resolution’ means making a firm decision to do or not to do something. Make a firm commitment to your decision at the point of making it. Then take action immediately to make it happen. Do not leave the moment of making a decision to change (that’s fuelled by a purposeful ‘why’) without doing something towards it’s attainment. If you want to send more cards, list out your friend’s birthdays, go and buy some cards, do something that moves towards this goal. Do it straight away and it will give you momentum.
Keep it simple
It’s better to choose one thing to change than creating a long list. Once you have achieved the first goal you can always add more later. If your list is too long it can be challenging to prioritise and get started. Long lists can also feel unachievable. Your resolutions must be achievable if they are going to be smart so keep it simple.
Write it down
Write down your resolutions on a piece of paper and put this somewhere that you can see it every day. The act of physically writing down your goals externalises them and registers them for yourself in a way that is different to simply carrying them in your head. I know this from my own experience and from successful people I have met in my life.
Certain personality types respond better to this than others. Being an external reality person rather than an internal reality person, I tell those that I know will be supportive of my goal and I will sometimes tell those that I do not want to let down. I’m always careful not to do this with something unachievable as this will only make me look bad and feel terrible when it doesn’t work out.
Carrots and Sticks
Like getting a donkey to move forward, we can use carrots or sticks to move towards our goals. Using celebrations along the way as rewards for being successful can be great motivators. You can take friends out to dinner or book a holiday as a prize for yourself. We can also use sticks to leverage ourselves to make the change, like telling those important to us or sending money to charity for each day you don’t stick to your plan.
It’s really important to enlist support from those around you to reach your New Year's Resolutions. Similarly, try to minimise contact with those who may want to hold you back from achieving them. You aren’t the only person afraid of change. Sometimes your loved ones can be afraid of losing you and can get in the way of your achieving your goals. Explain your ‘why’ to them so that they understand your motivations.
I have a number of things that I have been mulling over as resolutions for this coming year. My ideal resolution would be something personal with cross over for my business. Something that scares me a little and something that will allow me to grow as an individual whilst benefiting others.
One idea I’ve been thinking a lot about is how to improve our service to our customers. For the fist time in several years we dropped out of the top 25 publishers for customer service at the Henries. Our team is gutted and we are determined to do something about it. We’ve already started and are hoping we will be back on the list later in the year. Whilst this could be a resolution, it is not within our control. It therefore cannot be a smart goal, even though it is something we will be working hard on with new product, faster turnarounds and better communication. We will be specific and measurable in our improvements over the coming six months and then see if that has any effect on our standing in the Henries rankings.
Other ideas I’ve been mulling over have come from daily gratitude and daily kindness exercises I have been doing in the last month or two. Being more grateful and more kind aren’t specific enough for my resolution though. Plus I practice these regularly anyway.
Although I am very active in my involvement with our card and gift industry community through my work at the GCA and the Giftware Association, I still feel that there’s more I can do. I love social media, meeting new people and taking on exciting new challenges so I want something that would encompass all of these things for me personally. I’ve also been experimenting with video this last year and want to do more in this area.
So... I’ve decided to set up a YouTube channel, called The Greeting Card Project, that will run for one year and will include videos of myself and others writing and sending greeting cards to people. I’m going to commit to posting an average of one video a week throughout the year.
This is actually an idea that I've wanted to do for a while. I want to send more greeting cards. I am inspired to see how this connects with others, how the experience enhances my life and I hope that it might have a positive effect on card sending around the world.
OK. Now I’ve told you… I have to do it. If you want to support my project do get in touch.
Watch the first video from The Greeting Card Project
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