We all know about making New Year’s Resolutions at the beginning of the year. Some of us even do it thinking that this will be the year those resolutions will magically turn into personal commitments we actually honor over time and accomplish throughout the year! Many of us though don’t even bother making resolutions because we know they have no staying power to them and that we aren’t going to create the new habits required to sustain them over time.
That’s why I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. The very definition of a resolution is that it is an intention or decision that is made through some kind of formal voting process, like in an organization or by a legislative body. That isn’t what happens on New Year’s Day when someone decides that he/she is going to lose 10 pounds though. Or perhaps it’s getting that new job he/she has been talking about for several years. That’s not even what people would want to happen if they were more intentional about it. Instead, what people want is to declare a personal goal or objective that will inspire them to take different actions in the year ahead.
If you’re looking for different – and presumably even better – results in 2016, doesn’t it make sense that you may need to act a little differently in 2016? We all know that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is how Albert Einstein defined insanity. So let’s not be insane this year. Let’s make some personal commitments around doing things differently to produce some phenomenal results and accomplish whatever we set out to achieve!
One of the simplest and most impactful tools I’ve ever used to do this is the Stop-Start-Continue approach. It’s so powerful that I recommend it to nearly every leader I coach at some point during our executive coaching programs. Rather than just declaring an intention like a New Year’s Resolution, the Stop-Start-Continue approach provides the foundation required not only to identify one’s strategic intentions but also to reflect on one’s past actions to determine what changes may be required to achieve those individual goals.
1. Continue – What am I already doing that I want to continue doing as an individual/leader this year based on the positive results I am already achieving? Continue is usually the easiest place to start because it builds on your current successes and demonstrated strengths. Continue comes from the Bert Lance philosophy of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”, so don’t be afraid that you have to start all over in 2016 if there are things you are already doing well that you can incorporate into your overall plan and continue doing in this new year.
2. Start – With that foundation of your Continue’s already in place, what should you start doing now as an individual/leader to achieve even greater results? Start isn’t about making New Year’s Resolutions like losing weight or getting a new job, although both of those may be the goals you put on your Start list. It’s about making personal commitments to yourself and your strategic intentions for the year that will actually deliver the positive results you want to achieve. Those commitments can’t be based on “someday” or “maybe” though. To achieve these personal goals in 2016, you need to align your individual actions and behaviors to the goals you want to achieve.
3. Stop – What should I immediately stop doing as an individual/leader because it’s not aligned with my goals for the year? Stop is not about right or wrong, good or bad. Stop is just about being aware of what actions and behaviors won’t lead to your desired results and then stopping them moving forward. No judgment… No blame! This could be the year you intend to be healthier and decide to stop smoking or stop eating dessert during the week. It could also be the year you decide to be a more engaging and inspiring leader and stop interrupting your employees and telling them what to do. “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”
As you can see, I prefer to reverse the order of the questions from Stop-Start-Continue to Continue-Start-Stop. It’s less threatening that way and can be more motivating when you are trying to do something new. However you use it and in whatever order though, I assure you that you will see a marked difference in not only your performance but also the broader results your organizations, families, and communities achieve by incorporating this simple practice of reflection and future-focused planning into your New Year’s routine. Who knows, maybe this year will be the year you turn those New Year’s Resolutions into reality!
Did you have your best year ever last year? Congratulations! What are you doing to extend that success in 2016? If last year wasn’t so great, are you ready to make this year your best year ever? Check out the Strategic Planning page of Plus Delta’s website for some additional resources on planning your future from the future and achieving your future goals now. You can also call us at +1.310.589.4600 or email us if you would like to discuss your goals for the year.