Work in Progress? How to Reboot Those Relapsing Resolutions

Succumbed to Seasonal Affective Disorder yet?

Even if it’s not quite that dire, we don’t blame you if you’re feeling more apathetic than enthusiastic. Mired as we are in the desolate depths of winter, it’s all too easy to hit snooze (both literally and figuratively). Resolutions? What resolutions?

Well, we’re here to give you a (gentle) wake-up call. We may be – steady yourselves – more than halfway through the year already, but it’s not too late to revisit those resolutions, goals or good intentions which you so optimistically set in place in the sun-filled days at the start of the year. If you’re already tracking nicely towards success, fantastic! We salute your stamina. But for those of you who may be floundering a little on the follow-through, we’d like to offer some advice on how to maintain momentum.

Now, we’ve already offered plenty of pointers on how to set goals and achieve them. So why is it that even when armed with the best advice and the noblest of intentions, we so often don’t achieve what we set out to? “One of the main reasons why people don’t achieve their goals is because they self-sabotage,” observes PEPworldwide managing director Kathryn Anda. “And the biggest self-sabotage behaviours are procrastination and perfectionism. These two often go hand in hand: people become paralysed by their need for something to be perfect.” Sound familiar? Well, you need to kick this compulsion to touch. “While it’s obviously important to produce a high standard of work, you can’t allow your perfectionism to prevent you from accomplishing what you need to,” she continues. “Ease up on the exactitude and focus instead on the actual execution.”

Ok. Once we’ve dealt with this dysfunction, what’s next? Well, righting the ship may be easier than you think. Anda’s formula for following through is a simple one:

1. Review.

Are you still clear on what you set out to achieve? “Self-reflection is super-important,” explains Anda. “The hardest part is always making a start – so ask yourself why you haven’t started and clarify what your first step is. Once you’ve started, it’s easy to keep going.” One of the most common excuses she hears for a lack of progress is that “something more important came up”. “To which I reply, ‘Really?’” she says. “What’s more important than delivering on your key responsibilities? If you’re being assessed on a project, for example, it should be a priority.”

2. Refine.

Was your timeframe realistic? Maybe you initially underestimated how long a part of the process would take. Did sharing your plans with others help or hinder you? Perhaps you’ve learned that you work better without colleagues checking up or cheerleading. Was it helpful to celebrate each completed step of the process, or did that simply encourage you to take your foot off the pedal? Maybe you’ve recognised that you need fewer, not more, incentives to keep the inspiration alive. So have a think about what may have been thwarting you and adapt accordingly. And then:

3. Reset.

Monitor that mindset: it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed. “When we visualise what we need to do, we tend to visualise the worst parts of a project, not the outcomes,” observes Anda. “So in our minds it becomes huge.” In other words: it’s a fast track to self-sabotage – and we’re trying to avoid that, remember? Rather, start small, advises Anda. “Create small, meaningful changes. Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

Resolve renewed? Setbacks set aside? Are you at least out of bed? That’s a start – and as we noted earlier, starting is the hardest part. The key to keeping things on an even keel now is to constantly review your progress towards your goal, says Anda: “Regularly ask yourself: what’s not working? Why isn’t it working? How can I make it work?” she advises. “Be mindful of self-sabotaging behaviours and above all, just keep moving.” The message? Soldier on, people! Marshal your forces. Dig deep, even. Our use of military-themed clichés here is deliberate – because we know maintaining momentum can be a battle. Just remember – it’s one you can still win.