There is hope! Your dreams can come true! Although ‘the morning after’ may make your New Year resolutions seem dismal, it can be the second day of an exciting journey!
The expression, ‘the morning after’ often implies negativity. And that’s exactly what I intended. By the time you read this, you may already have started to wonder why you bothered making ‘New Year resolutions’ or thinking about some positive personal change you could bring about as we entered 2011? Past failures may have conditioned you to think ‘my New Year resolutions never work’ so you may not even try making them. Even if your New Year resolutions have provided some success, why do they fade into insignificance by ‘the morning after’ New Year? - or within the next week? Sustainability is a challenge.
‘New Year resolutions’ are often made as ‘stand alone’ intentions. I believe that most people treat ‘resolutions’ as events or transactions, so intentions are not followed by sustainable action.
If we consider our ‘resolutions’ as part of a process we will be more successful. We need to plan, implement and monitor results.
Your vision of your future
I have coined the term ‘resource-centered personal strategy’ for my approach and it begins with an individual’s vision of the future. In other words, where do you want to be in three years? That needs a great deal of careful consideration. And what action plans do you need to work through in order to achieve your vision? Your New Year resolutions will fit in as part of the overall plan.
Critical success factors
Let’s step back. A few years ago, the great business guru, Ken Blanchard advocated that in order to be successful a business needed to be continuously improving, customer driven, ‘fast and flexible’ and cost effective. I worked on this concept at the time and used these principles. As time passed I added another critical success factor, ‘networked’ (which includes relationship building) and I have now added a new component which I’ll call ‘convenient’.
I believe those same principles or ‘critical success factors’ can play an important part in ensuring personal success, too. For this article, I’m concentrating only on the critical success factor, ‘cost effective’. I use this term to refer not only to finances but to all resources (in the broader context) available to us. How have we accumulated each resource and how are we using or allocating all our resources. In other words, the main question to ask is: What do I want my resources to be in three years time? And how am I going to be using each resource? How effectively will I be getting ‘maximum mileage’ out of each component?
I run many training courses on personal strategy. Participants include adults in a wide range of professions and businesses and they may be at any level in their organisation from CEO down to other levels. These sessions are sometimes run for individuals privately or for groups of individuals. However, each individual develops their own plan.
These courses are always adapted to suit specific needs. For example, each year I run training courses for young engineers (metallurgical, chemical, mechanical) and we look at a three-year time-frame for each individual’s ‘plan’. That is a good ‘chunk’ or time-frame, long enough to plan significant change or stabilisation and yet short enough to work with. I stress that answers need to be realistic, yet stretch people out of their comfort zones. Examples of the questions relating to ‘resources’ that I ask are:
Question (answers need to be given as though the participant has projected themselves three years into the future)
What capital do you wish to have accumulated?
What are you earning?
What income are you generating on a regular basis?
How are you doing this?
How have you invested your money?
Where are you working?
What are you doing?
What opportunities are there for future growth?
And how are you going to achieve this?
Which people are significant in your personal life, your business life and your community life?
How are you allocating your time? (This is a big question as it covers personal, business and community.)
How are you building your personal energy?
How are you conserving it?
How are you spending it?
Where are you living? Describe.
Knowledge and qualifications
How have you progressed in the last three years?
What new skills have you acquired?
What new qualifications have you achieved?
What are you aiming for in the next period?
What means of transport do you have or use?
Your personal brand is a resource.
How have you built it?
How are you promoting it?
Yes, coaching is a resource. What have you done to make sure that you are exposed to the right coaching for you? How are you benefitting?
Your personal network is a powerful resource. What are you doing to build and maintain relationships?
How are you improving your skills as a networker?
What are you doing to expand your network in a meaningful way?
How ‘up to date’ are you?
Can you effectively incorporate the latest available technology where beneficial?
The above are representative of questions covered in the workshops. Not all questions are included here. However, answering these would be a good start!
Please ponder the above questions. They deserve your careful consideration. They will help to shape the picture that you are painting of your life and achievements in three years time.
A. The process starts by looking at your life in three years time and being sure that you know how you envision your future.
B. Then we say: ‘That is where I want to be but where am I now relating to each of those questions’?
C. For each resource, look at your picture of the future and your current status. The difference between the two is the ‘gap’ that you are going to use for planning purposes.
D. This is where the action really begins. For each resource in your life, in terms of that gap, you can now set three-year action plans covering your goals.
E. Then you need to break those goals down into manageable chunks. In other words, put time frames to each action. If you are looking at three years, a good idea is to have six 6-month periods and decide which of the goals you are going to achieve in each period. By concentrating on specific outcomes for each 6-month period, you’ll be more likely to achieve success.
Watchpoint: Make sure that your goals for each 6-month period are manageable. Sometimes you’ll find it better to spread your goals linked to a specific resource over more than one 6-month period. In other cases, goals relating to a specific resource may not appear in certain 6-month periods as they have been allocated to other periods.
F. The first period being now. And it doesn’t have to be the official ‘New Year’. This marks the implementation or ‘execution’ of the goals for the first period.
G. You’ll also need to introduce a monitoring and reporting system. I appreciate that mostly you’ll be reporting to yourself. But by diarising each report date (say once a month) and monitoring the progress on each goal, you can deal with deviations as they arise.
H. At the end of the first 6-month period, it will be exciting to see how much progress you have made.
I. You then begin the second 6-month period and repeat the whole process.
So what I’m saying is that you shouldn’t be looking at your New Year resolutions as isolated events or goals. They should form part of the whole picture of what you are going to achieve over a three-year period. That way you have a far greater chance of success.
There is no need for ‘the morning after’ New Year to seem dismal. It can be the second day of an exciting journey towards success.
In my first book, ‘Networking Tactics’ I combined personal strategy with networking tactics. However, success in applying these concepts with individuals and groups has fuelled my passion. I continue to incorporate new concepts and improve in other ways. Hence my new approach as captured above is my ‘resource centered’ approach to personal strategy. It works!