Friday, 4 January 2019

Making all new mistakes

It is the time of year where we have had a break, and where we plunge into the excitement of a new year. We have caught up with family. We have looked at the close of the last year with fresh eyes. We may have decided that we don't want to repeat the mistakes of last year. The future looks rosy. We set out to be the best person we can be with at this fresh beginning. Great!

Now reality moves in. We get a week into our new health /fitness /eating /reading /study regime and are riding off into that sunset of great deeds, and - oops - something goes wrong. We may get back on that horse a couple of times, but sometimes that first bobble may be all it takes to scupper our good intentions. And we repeat the mistakes of last year.

There are no easy answers when it comes to trying to change ourselves, but doing a bit of 'what if' thinking can help us to keep getting on that horse, which will help us to make all new mistakes for the coming year.

The following goal-setting techniques, the 'shoulds', can help us:

  1. Firstly, we have to know our own limitations. A goal to run 10ks a day when we can't walk 2 isn't going to work, but aiming to build to 10ks over a year might be do-able (Doran, 1983). 
  2. Secondly, we have to prioritise (Doran, 1983). What is our most important change? If we can work out where we will get most bang for our buck, other, easier goals may be achieved with less effort as by-catch to our main goal.
  3. Thirdly, we should create our goals using a structure. I personally prefer Professor George Doran's SMART goal model (see articles here,  here  and here). SMART can help us to write goals that are worded and thought-through in a way that makes them more achievable, and helps to keep us accountable to ourselves (Doran, 1983).
  4. Fourthly, we should write our goals down, or tell someone. This makes our goals more concrete, which makes it more likely that we will actually achieve them (Morisano, Hirsh, Peterson, Pihl & Shore, 2010). 
  5. Fifthly, we have to check that we maintain momentum, and decide how we will get back on track if we fall off that horse (Doran, 1983). For example, I put daily reminders in my online diary, and am not allowed to go to bed unless I have achieved what I said I would do. Where that is not possible, I also have to make up any overall missed goals before the end of each week. 
Hopefully this might help some of us who are trying to keep that horse moving. And that will enable us to make all new mistakes this year :-)


Sam

References:
  • Doran, G. T. (1983). How to be a Better Manager in 10 Easy Steps. USA: Monarch Press.  
  • Morisano, D., Hirsh, J. B., Peterson, J. B., Pihl, R. O., & Shore, B. M. (2010). Setting, elaborating, and reflecting on personal goals improves academic performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(2), 255-264. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018478

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