It’s the new year! A time when most people make — and break — New Year’s resolutions. This should be a time for ambitious types to shine! Ambition typically aligns with discipline, structure and frequent goal setting so new year’s resolutions should be no problem!
But ambitious types can just as easily fall into the 80% of people who bail on their New Year’s resolutions. When ambition is bigger the goals are bigger and layered across multiple aspects of life. Large and complex goals can be set up to fail from the start without proper support around them.
Here are 5 ways ambitious types can be effective with New Year’s resolutions:
- Break Your Big Goal Into Pieces and Processes
Big goals can create analysis-paralysis because there is so much needed in order to achieve the goal. It can be difficult to know where to begin. You can be frozen instead of productive.
The solution is not to set smaller goals.
Have your eyes on the big goal or the desired outcome, but break it into pieces or milestones that are achievable in a quarter or even a month. Breaking a big goal into smaller milestones will give you the satisfaction of making progress and the motivation to keep charging toward your big goal.
Putting process-based goals behind your big goal will also give you that sense of accomplishment even when you don’t see progress quickly. What are the daily processes that will help you get closer to your goal? An example would be focusing on a number of steps per day vs the number on the scale. Or focusing on a number of networking phone calls vs an annual sales goal.
2. Follow an 85% Rule
Ambitious types have a tendency to aim for 100% or perfect efforts in everything they tackle. Anything less than 100% is judged as a fail. That polarity of thinking sets any New Year’s resolution or big goal up for failure.
There will be obstacles that knock you off course. There will be days you can’t adhere to your processes, especially where there are layers of resolutions and discipline requirements attached.
If you’re holding yourself to 100% perfection standards, you’re likely to hit a place of burnout and fall off the wagon entirely. You will experience feelings of failure when in reality, you just need to get back on track and keep going.
Aim to hit 85% of your process deliverables for a given week or month. If you look at success through this lens, you can fall off for a day and still feel like it’s all part of the plan.
3. Avoid Comparison
You’ve likely heard the saying, “Don’t compare your Day 1 to someone else’s Day 100.” Your journey is unique to you. There is no playbook for you to follow that exactly aligns with your skill set and your desired destination. Comparison will only lead to jealousy and frustration.
There will always be people who have already achieved the goal you’re chasing or are farther along in their journey. Look at them for inspiration and clues only. Focus on your processes and next steps. Those are the pieces that are within your control.
4. Find the Others
The popular New Year’s resolution advice about “work hard in silence” and “stop talking and start doing” is flawed. This advice can actually limit or delay your progress toward your goals. If your goals are big enough and challenging enough, you will need all the help you can get to achieve them.
When you set your big goals, identify people who could possibly help you and reach out to them. Ask for very specific help. While networking used to be limited to face to face gatherings or true connections of connections, there is now LinkedIn. There is no greater platform for getting help and advice. Some of your outreach and requests will go unanswered but that doesn’t mean you should stop reaching out.
In addition to directly reaching out to potential collaborators or experts, you can generally find your tribe by being public about what goals you’re chasing. Post about your big goals and also about the processes you’re going to follow to get there. Your people will find you and will keep you motivated and accountable on days when you feel like giving up.
5. Identify Your Blind Spots
Share your big goals and your process goals with three respected contacts, colleagues or friends who know you well. Ask for feedback:
- “What actions do you think are critical toward helping me achieve this goal?”
- “Do you think I should adjust any component of my goal?”
- “What is most likely to prevent me from reaching this goal?”
If the people you have chosen truly know you well, they will have fast and thought-provoking answers to these questions. We are often hesitant to ask for feedback as we either don’t want to hear the feedback or aren’t prepared for the feedback.
But at the beginning of the year, when you’re thinking big picture and setting goals, you should be in a growth state of mind and open to adjusting based on inputs from others.
While big goals can be daunting, they are food for the soul of ambitious types.
Set your big goal. Make it even bigger.
Know that it’s possible you might fail.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not a goal worth chasing.
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
— Norman Vincent Peale