We all know that a New Year typically means new goals, new resolutions, new habits, new…

We also know that much of this ‘new’ stuff stops after about 3-5 weeks and then it’s either forgotten about or we feel bad because we failed, yet again. As an alternative approach, here are a few thoughts and ideas that you could be useful for both you and your clients in thinking about and engaging with a new year in a different way…

Hoorah for the old!

Do we always need to start something new? We can get so obsessed with doing and being more and more, we can sometimes forget about and dismiss what we are already doing and being that is great and good! As well as setting new goals, how about looking at what you are already doing and achieving that is really adding value to you in some way to make sure that you honour, protect, and maintain it?

How bad do you want it?

It’s very easy to create a list of shiny new goals and habits that look really great on paper, and we can feel very pleased with ourselves for creating the list and yet, the issue, and the reason why so many of us fail so quickly, is that we haven’t really thought through what achieving the goal really means and whether or not it means enough to us to make it happen. A useful tool here can be to consider the Cartesian Questions:

  1. What would happen if you did X?
  2. What would happen if you didn’t do X?
  3. What won’t happen if you did X?
  4. What won’t happen if you didn’t do X?

Is there enough room in your wardrobe?

It’s one thing saying that you need some new clothes, and it’s another thing entirely trying to fit them easily into your wardrobe, unless you are also going to ‘prune’ out some of your current attire…the same thing applies to new habit and goals. We have a certain amount of time, energy, and other resources to allocate across our lives and so, if you really want to do something new or additional, have you considered what you might need to stop doing, do less of or let go of, in order to make appropriate space for it?

Does your new goal link to a higher vision?

Quite often, we overestimate what is possible in one year and underestimate what is possible in one decade… So, instead of just setting annual goals, how about creating a longer-term vision of what you want for yourself? In this way, you can begin the leverage the power of incrementalism and compounded effort which, over time, can yield exponential results – yearly goals could be too short te/rm when it’s the long game that really pays off.

Does the environment help or hinder?

There’s no point setting a goal to start running if your running shoes and kit are at the back of a cupboard buried underneath a heap of other things. In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about the significance of the environment in terms of its impact on our ability to start and maintain an activity or a behaviour. If the activity is really important to you, then create the necessary conditions for change to occur – don’t set yourself up to fail before you event start!

Structure helps!

Linked to setting up a helpful environment is thinking about what kind of structure will support you. With the best will in the world, will power is not actually that powerful in many cases! Have a plan, a process, a schedule…and some enabling behaviours that underpin the new activity. To quote from Atomic Habits once again, James Clear talks about leaving your book on your pillow each morning if you want to create a nightly habit of reading before you to go to sleep.

Do you have an accountability buddy?

Even if you have considered all of the above, it can still be tough sometimes, especially when the seductive draw of old patterns beckons. A great part of your structure could include some kind of check in or connection with someone to help you stay on track.

Are you trying?

According to Marshall Goldsmith, in his book Triggers, intentions do count… For example, set the goal (such as: I want to do some form of exercise every day) and then, at the end of each day, ask yourself: “Did I try my best to exercise today?” and give yourself a score. At the end of a month or a year, you can calculate your average score. Maybe you have a score of 50% – you could think, well that’s not very good as it’s only half the time or you could think, wow, that’s half of the month/year that I actually did do some exercise. The key here is that it is not all or nothing! Ultimately, we succeed by trying and the more we try, the more likely we are to succeed. So, how about rewarding yourself for effort (and not only outcome) and remember that every day is a new opportunity to try again.

Daily questions

Linked to accountability and to the benefit of trying, is the concept of Daily questions. Tracking and logging our effort can be hard to sustain over time and this is where an accountability buddy can be super helpful. You can capture your desired practice (e.g., Do some form of exercise every day) and your review question (e.g., Did I try my best to do some exercise today?) and exchange them with your buddy. Then, agree to connect with them ,every day, for just a few minutes to share your questions and answers with each other.

Let’s celebrate our intentions, our accomplishments, and our progress and not only our complete and perfect delivery!

Happy (New) Year!

Coach Advancement by Tracy Sinclair supports organisations to develop the potential of their people through coachingcoaching skills and coaching culture. Our Coaching with Conscience services specialise in offering coaching and coaching related services in support of positive social impact and social progress. 

Tracy Sinclair, MCC

Tracy Sinclair is a multi-award-winning Master Certified Coach (MCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She is also a trained Coaching Supervisor, Mentor Coach and ICF Assessor. Tracy trains coaches and works with managers and leaders to develop their coaching capability. She works as an international Corporate Executive and Board Level Coach, a leadership development designer and facilitator working with a wide range of organisations. Tracy also specialises in working with organisations to support them develop coaching culture. Tracy has co-authored a book Becoming a Coach: The Essential ICF Guide published in 2020 which provides a comprehensive guide to coaching for coaches at all levels of skill and experience, the psychology that underpins coaching and the updated ICF Core Competency Model. In this same year she founded Coaching with Conscience which exists to have a positive impact on society and our environment through coaching. As part of this work, she collaborates closely with MIND, the UK’s leading mental health charity and the British Paralympic Association (BPA). She also offers pro bono personal development and coaching programmes to young leaders (18-25-yrs). Tracy was named as one of the Leading Global Coach winners of the Thinkers50 Marshall Goldsmith Awards of 2019 and was a finalist for the Thinkers50 Coaching and Mentoring Award in 2021. She won the ICF Impact Award for Distinguished Coach in 2023 and is a member of the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches. She was the President of the UK ICF from 2013-2014 and was an ICF Global Board Director since 2016, serving as Treasurer in 2017, Global Chair in 2018 and Immediate Past Global Chair in 2019 and Vice Chair and Director at Large on the International Coaching Federation Global Enterprise Board in 2021.

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