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Breaking Free of Failed New Year Resolutions!

Breaking free of new year resolutions. Credit: Power of Potential © 2021

Breaking Free of Resolutions

It is that time of year again, new year resolutions! The moments where, for many, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Don’t misunderstand, goals and dreams are wonderful but failing to meet them create a whole new world of punishing self-criticisms and blame. So, it begs the question of is there a way that we can break free of this self-defeating cycle?

Let’s take a look in our 100th blog…

We could make this a year where we don’t set resolutions. This meets the criteria of avoiding failure – so check. But it stifles dreams – so uncheck!

We could use SMART goal-setting strategies for our personal goals. This strategy works in business, ergo it should theoretically work in our personal lives – so check. But it fails to inspire and tends to wane when the going gets tough – so uncheck!

Ah yes, there is another alternative…an approach that focuses on why we’re doing something, not just what we’re doing. 

Think back to childhood trips to visit grandparents (or other relatives) and the dozens of questions asked on those trips starting with “why”. We have a natural human curiosity that needs satiating before we focus on “doing” something. So, knowing this natural pattern, how do we leverage it to our advantage to achieve something we want?

Leveraging our natural style

There is a model for goal-setting that goes further than any traditional model. It differs because it taps directly into values and worthiness. If something is important to us, we will do it. If we’re indifferent to something or don’t see it as a priority, it will not materialize for us.

The model incorporates these elements in one that measures outcomes (rather than simply a specific result or metric), so it is better suited for larger ambitions. For instance, choosing a healthier lifestyle, changing careers, moving countries, or starting a new business. This model is called PECSAW, a term coined by Reg Connolly.

PECSAW builds upon the positive aspects of the traditional SMART technique by adding meaning to achievement and alignment. When I say alignment, this means with ourselves or someone we’re sharing the model with (which could be as a coach or a trainer). Its approach produces a clear picture, or understanding, of the desired outcome from the outset. This focuses all of our subsequent effort towards this objective.

PECSAW, a new way to set goals, outcomes and objectives.

Moving towards outcomes in practical ways

It builds in the following aspects:

  • Positive
  • Evidence
  • Context
  • Self-achievable
  • Advantages and Disadvantages
  • Worthwhile

Positive is quite simply about focusing on what you DO want. This gets us out of a problem, excuse, or rationalizing mindset which is the first step towards embedding personal beliefs in the goal/objective. Remember, the brain does not process negatives well, so it is important to frame things for ourselves knowing this!

Evidence means defining right from the get-go the criteria by which we will recognize successful achievement of our outcome or goal. What will we see? What will others see? How exactly will we know?

Context is about knowing the conditions under which you want the outcome to be achieved (such as where and when), as well as when you don’t want it. For instance, if you are an optimistic person, it is important to know when being “overly optimistic” isn’t situationally appropriate. Using starting a new business to illustrate. It is important to identify risks from the outset and manage them. Excessive optimism may shield these risks from an entrepreneur, increasing the risk of a real business failure.   

Self-achievable is accepting that outcomes (goals or objectives) need to be within our circle of influence or control. Questions to consider here are what support or resources do we need to be able to achieve our goal? What do we personally need to do? Is our goal self-dependent or do we need someone else to do something? 

Advantages & Disadvantages recognizes that every choice (where goals/objectives/outcomes are choices) is a trade-off. Using resources in one area deprives them of use in other areas. Questions here are designed to identify the pros and cons of making the changes needed in order to achieve our desired outcome. For example, if I choose a healthier lifestyle I will spend time being active and lose time I now spend enjoying a glass (or two) of wine.

Worthwhile is the final motivational aspect we consider. Is our outcome worth our time and effort? What benefits will it attract? Why is it important? It is important to align at this stage with our values and what matters to us. This alignment will see us through the bumps that will inevitably surface from time to time. 

Each of these steps offers a practical framework through which we seamlessly embed a more positive what’s in it for me approach. Gone are the days of detachment and thoughts of “because I should do it” and hello are “I am doing it for me” days.

Final thoughts on new year resolutions

So, 2022 is about deciding to attract more of the things we want in life than about setting new year resolutions. Whatever your New Year objectives, give yourself some time to make them a reality. Contrary to the popular belief that new habits are formed in 21 days, Lally et al. (2009) found that it takes an average of 66 days for new habits to form and stick.

Need some help or motivation? The Power of Potential is a practical roadmap that helps you achieve anything you set out to do in 2022!

Your turn

Sign in to the Community Member Area or comment below to share your views on setting resolutions, or what your personal plans might be for 2022. By sharing your experience, you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of The Power of Potential – Happy new year!  

Give it a try!

Cartoon credit: Charles Waples for The Power of Potential

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