With the New Year well and truly underway, most of us are now back at work or school, with the celebrations and festivities now a distant (and hopefully fond memory).
One of the first questions of 2017 I was asked was ‘Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?’ Making New Year’s resolutions is a debate I have with myself every year. It’s cold, it’s dark, most of us are feeling the effects physically, emotionally and financially of the celebrations. It’s not really the best time to review your life is it?
A well documented phenomena, best demonstrated in gym and slimming club membership, is the speed at which the initial flurry of good intentions reflected in New Year’s resolutions collapses under the weight of failure within the first few weeks or months.
We set ourselves huge goals, then disheartened by the ability to lose that two stone in a month or develop a six pack in three sessions and unwilling to put in what seems like a mountain of hard work, we give up, only to face the same challenge next January.
My perspective on New Year’s resolutions changed when I started reading ‘Black Box Thinking’ by Matthew Syed, a former table tennis champion and sports journalist. The title is inspired by the aviation industry and it’s openness to learning through failure to make improvements
One of the ideas he explores in the book is marginal gains, making small incremental changes to improve performance, which added together as a whole to make a significant change. He gives some great examples here https://goo.gl/agGRkC including the inspirational example of the British Cycling Team.
In the same article he also makes reference to Carol Dweck’s work on Mindset (read more here https://goo.gl/j0vDWq) which forms a key part of UFA’s work with young people. Dweck believes that having a fixed Mindset (I will diet every day and if I fall off the wagon I will have failed) doesn’t allow for learning or flexibility. Whereas growth Mindset (I will plan to lose weight but will not beat myself up if I have a couple of off days) allows that learning opportunity to explore why something didn’t work and to learn from it.
It’s a powerful combination to use in the workplace, in education and in day to day life. Set ambitious goals, but plan the incremental changes that it will take to get there. Make time to reflect and review at regular intervals and use those learnings to inform the process moving forward.
So in 2017 I won’t be making New Year’s resolutions, but I will be combining some small incremental changes along with a growth Mindset to improve my health through drinking more water, hitting my step goal on the Fitbit and not eating my body weight in cheese (a Christmas downfall).
I recognise that I won’t stay on track every day but I’ll be reviewing and refining my targets throughout the year and hopefully incorporating some more goals and the steps to get there along the way.
For those of you making New Year’s resolutions, let us know what they are and what small steps you’ll be taking to get those marginal gains.