Let me start by wishing you a very Happy New Year! It may be the strangest start we’ve had to a New Year in our lifetime but we can still welcome the opportunities 2021 presents and be grateful for the lessons of 2020.
January is of course a time when we tend to think about setting new resolutions for areas of life we want to improve or change – be that career, health, finances, or even where we live. We think about positive new habits we want to instil and negative old habits we want to get rid of.
As a coach I like to remind people that you can, of course, do this at any time of year – indeed, you can begin any change in any minute of any day. The start of a New Year just presents a mental prompt for us to take stock, reviewing the last year and thinking about what we want to achieve in the 12 months ahead. However, the phrase New Year New You is now so overused and outmoded, this year I encourage you to enter the New Year your way, on your own. terms!
When setting new goals or intentions, what’s really important is to be aware of and acknowledge our action style when moving towards them. Knowing yourself and your preferred style means you can approach change in the way most likely to be successful for you, approaching any goal on your terms.
So, which type are you?
All or nothing Abi
(That’s me by the way!) This type typically sets goals, is highly motivated, and gets stuck straight in – going hell for leather to achieve their aims. Typically a ‘striver’, you are motivated by ideals, your desire to achieve, and can err on the side of perfectionism. Your main strength is being able to move toward a goal without letting obstacles overcome you, but your weakness is that they can often view a setback or mistake as failure and use it as an excuse to press the ‘f**k it button’. For example, an all or nothing type trying to lose weight will often be so strict about their diet and exercise regime that if they have a small slip (say eating a piece of cake they hadn’t planned) that they view themselves as having failed, give up and go on an eating binge because they’ve been so strict with themselves up to this point – thus undoing all their hard work and progress to date.
My top coaching tips for the all or nothings:
- Plan in regular respite from your goal-inspired activities – block out time in your diary to rest and relax to avoid ‘goal fatigue’
- Allow yourself treats and rewards at certain intervals (for example, your favourite chocolate bar or a cup of hot chocolate at the end of each week if you’re dieting) eand be kind to yourself o you don’t end up pressing the ‘f**k it button’
- Be realistic in your planning – take a project managers approach and factor in some slack to allow for some things to take longer than you estimate
Slow and steady Susan
The slow and steady type prefers to be more of a tortoise than a hare – choosing continuous progress in steady increments over the fast paced all or nothing approach. Often highly methodical in all you do, you arrive at your goal eventually, but are more concerned with the process than the destination. Your strength is that you aren’t easily swayed from your goals, are often quite detail oriented, and are very reliable. However your weakness can be that you are often not very flexible or open to change, and even if a better method is presented to you, you’ll often prefer to stick to what you know.
My top coaching tips for the slow and steady’s:
- Make sure you have a plan to keep you on track so you have a timeframe in mind for achieving your goals and don’t get lost in the love of the process
- Acknowledge your progress along the way to keep you motivated, despite your progress being slow and steady – recognise and reward yourself for the milestones along the way
- Try to remain as flexible as you can – especially at the moment when things are so changeable and unpredictable
- Don’t be afraid to say yes to unexpected opportunities – try avoid missing out on opportunities on account of your safe approach
Do it tomorrow Debbie
The do it tomorrow type may well have a vision of what they want, goals or ambitions for themselves, but is a master of procrastination. You are excited by the idea of achieving what you want, but when it comes to taking action you either find a million other things that need doing today, or become obsessed with researching what approach to take, telling yourself ‘I’ll get started tomorrow’. But tomorrow comes and still you find other distractions, excuses, or tell yourself you need to do some more research, and the cycle continues. Your strength is often in being very detail oriented – wanting to research all the detail of how to go about making the changes you want to, what books to buy, tools you need, and strategies to follow. On a subconscious level this procrastination is usually linked to fear – fear of failure, fear of taking a risk – and your weakness is in not knowing when to stop learning and start leaping.
My top coaching tips for the do it tomorrow’s:
- Ask yourself what one small thing can you do today to start moving you forward – for example, writing down your goal or drafting a plan
- Use past missed opportunities to fuel yourself – think about how you’ve kicked yourself when you’ve put things off in the past and don’t want to feel that way again
- Give yourself incentives to motivate yourself – rather than weekly rewards, procrastinators should reward yourselves when you achieve key milestones along the way. For example, when you’ve lost 7 pounds you can treat yourself to that new pair of shoes you’ve been wanting
- Get some accountability support to hold you to your commitments and keep you on track – whether that’s a friend, family member, a business colleague, or seek a coach if you want someone neutral to hold you accountable. For more information on life coaching click here.
What do I want Wendy
The what do I want type isn’t necessarily lacking motivation or procrastinating taking action, rather they struggle to take action because they don’t have a clear vision of what they want to achieve. This doesn’t tend to be a permanent type, rather we will all go through phases in our lives where we feel lost, stuck despondent, perhaps even depressed, and simply don’t know what we want for the future. I can strongly relate to this type as I’ve been here a few times in life when I’ve been stuck in jobs I didn’t enjoy where life was all about work and I’ve lost my zest and passion for life. But deep down our hearts all have desires for us, we just need to learn to go within to uncover and get back in touch with what we really want. This can take some time and isn’t to be forced or rushed as it can often be a highly emotional process.
My top coaching tips for the what do I want’s:
- See everything around you as a source of inspiration to help starting to identify what you like (and don’t like) – for example, TV series, films, magazines, books, people you pass in the street – and capture it in a notebook, take a photo, or keep an inspiration list in a folder on your computer
- Make time to daydream or meditate – pose yourself the question ‘what would make me happy?’ or ‘what would set my heart on fire?’ and either daydream looking out of the window – maybe with a nice glass of wine, or sit and meditate quietly, observing whatever thoughts or feelings come to the surface. For more information on meditation, click here.
- Ask yourself what do your friends and family have or do that you wish you did, or you feel would make you happy, and use that as a source of inspiration
- Journal all these thoughts as and when they arise, or if you’re more visual create a scrapbook and save images of things that inspire you
Above all, be kind to yourself
Bearing in mind the above when approaching any new goal or challenge, we do also need to remember that we are now in the midst of Winter – a time where we are naturally inclined to hibernate, rest and sleep. Couple that with everything we’ve been through in the last year, combined with the challenges we’re facing again for the first part of this year, means my overriding advice is to go easy on yourself.
If you’re goal oriented like me you’ve probably already set yourself some new goals or targets and started working towards them which is great, but remember to factor in time for rest breaks, recognising your achievements, and allowing yourself treats/rewards from time to time. Being motivated and taking action is fantastic, but not if you push yourself to the point of burn out, illness, or giving up when you perceive a setback or mistake as failure.
Likewise, if you’re feeling more inclined to hibernate and just survive at the moment that’s ok too – go easy, listen to your body, and do what feels right for you. Rather than overwhelming yourself by thinking about goals or resolutions, if this is you I’d encourage you just to find positive and/or productive things you can do each day (aim for 3 or more, however small) that make you feel like you’ve moved forward in some way – trust me, it’ll help you sleep at night. For example, this could be anything from doing the ironing to cleaning your cupboards, doing an act of kindness for a friend, going for a walk, cooking a nutritious dinner, reading or listening to a few chapters of a book.
The main thing for all of us at this time is to know what works for us, know our limits, listen to our bodies, and go easy with ourselves. Stop, rest, nourish, and restore your energy as often as you need to, and above all – be kind to yourself.
Wishing you all the best possible year ahead,
(For more advice on how to create and set new intentions for yourself most effectively read my blog on creating your own reality).