Broken New Year’s resolutions and failed goals litter the career landscape. Understanding why and using proven keys to unlock talent and opportunities can turn this frustrating situation around.
So, what are the problems with typical resolutions and goals? First, many goals stir fear rather than hope for people. “Will I be successful or will this be another failure?” Neuroscience research shows that a fearful frame of mind shuts down the creative and constructive thinking we need to develop new approaches and sustain our commitments. Second, consciously or unconsciously, people often adopt other people’s expectations of them as their goals rather than pursuing their own aspirations. “My boss really wants me to take that new job.” “My partner thinks I should do more with my talent.” In short, people try to live someone else’s talent story rather than be the hero of their own. As a result, their resolutions and goals lack the sustaining self-motivation for real staying power. Third, obstacles get in the way and people don’t find ways to get around them. “I could have accomplished my resolution or goal, but [I didn't get the resources I needed, my boss didn't support me, or any of a myriad of other impediments].”
Should people give up on setting resolutions and goals? No, they can be successful when they start from a different place with a positive frame of mind and the necessary support to create a solid foundation. How? First, they need to realize that their situations are stories, and they can write the next chapters in them. While the past is set, the future is theirs to design, and they, and only they, can become the heroes of their talent stories. Second, they need to articulate their own hopes and why those are important to them to become clear about what truly motivates them–not someone’s expectations for them. Third, they need people to be catalysts to stimulate fresh thinking and creative solutions. Setting goals is not done best as a solo sport. A colleague, co-worker, friend, or family member can be an effective catalyst. Such a catalyst needs to ask key, open-ended questions (such as “What are your hopes?”), reflect back what the person says, and support the person as he or she takes the initiative to identify desirable actions. Following a carefully-designed conversational script, participants can develop a clear direction and set of desired actions in about an hour.
Achieving real results is about more than setting goals, however. It also includes identifying the inner qualities, resources, and healthy stretches that the person needs to engage for true success and personal fulfillment. Translating personal growth into concrete career assets to share with others builds a take-charge talent culture that multiplies the payoffs for everyone involved.
May 2013 be your best year yet.