…Long Live the New Year’s Resolution!
You might have heard the phrase: The King is Dead! Long Live the King! This means that the (previous) king is dead and we wish the (new) king a long life. It also indicates that there is never a time without a king.
Enter the ye olde new year’s resolution.
It’s been a trend in recent years for people to publicly declare that they don’t do new year’s resolutions. Are you one of them? I’m of the opinion that while the first of January resolution might not be fashionable anymore – goal setting, planning and working towards personal and career growth is a big deal to individuals who live consciously.
On one level it makes sense to ditch the idea of making resolutions if the past has taught you that you are more likely to fail than succeed. But there is a big difference between making a resolution that is merely a whimsical wish and a resolution that amounts to achieving a well-considered objective that aligns to your top priority values. And, more importantly, having a plan to achieve that goal.
Completing your thesis or dissertation next year amounts to more than just a resolution. It is very much a goal and something that you are already actively working towards. So what can you do make sure that you attain your goal of completing your academic paper in order to graduate on time? Here are my insights on goal setting and succeeding.
1. You have to name it
You have a goal, so own it. If that means writing across a new diary, or in your bullet journal, or placing it on a vision board, you have to find ways to acknowledge the goal. Tell your family and friends – at least then when you have to say no to some social engagements, everyone already knows what you are working towards and they can support you. This step is also important so that you can hold yourself accountable – ultimately to yourself.
Tip: Why not create a personal # for the coming year? #MyThesisYear
2. You need a
Despite the fact that we often use the terms strategy and plan interchangeable, there’s quite a significant difference between them.
“A plan is an arrangement, a pattern, a program, or a scheme for a definite purpose. A plan is very concrete in nature and doesn’t allow for deviation. If “Plan A” doesn’t work, you don’t alter “Plan A” and try again. Rather, you move to “Plan B;” something totally different.”
“A strategy on the other hand, is a blueprint, layout, design, or idea used to accomplish a specific goal. A strategy is very flexible and open for adaptation and change when needed…A strategy allows for a natural flow of thought and continual momentum that builds until success isn’t only reached, but expectations are blown out of the water. A strategy can surprise, impress, and put you on track to becoming a competitive powerhouse.” – Cherissa Newton
Because a strategy forces to you to continuously assess your progress by taking your past into consideration, you are more likely to find ways to achieve your goal. For example: there’s no point in planning to wake up at 4am every morning to work on your research if you are not a morning person. By thinking strategically, you will find another way to get the time you need to work.
When planning for the future, which is undeniably unknown, it helps to strategise and consider the various scenarios you might be faced with and be prepared to modify your strategy so you can keep moving forward, rather than starting over at the beginning.
Tip: My book recommendation for this edition of the newsletter “That further shore: turn your dreams into goals and make them reality” could be the perfect guide because it forces you to think about what you really want. Sign up here!
4. Understand where your own motivation comes from
We are all driven by our own motivation to land in a place where we can make a difference. Where we can serve the world based on our own unique qualities, history and experiences. This is the drive that get us out of bed in the morning.
The best way I can explain this is by introducing a motivation theory, specifically Self Determination Theory (SDT). Deci & Ryan explicitly state that the first and foremost primary drive of humans is our drive for autonomy (independence): we are the masters of our own destiny and in charge of where we are going. Autonomy being a powerful energy source is the precursor to the second drive that emerges from SDT: the need for competence, our desire to be good at things.
In summary, if we take the fuel source from our autonomous motivation and invest it into the small step by step changes we must make to build that competence we so desire, we will achieve our goals. But, we must understand this energy source so we can harness it everyday. Perhaps read some scholarly articles on SDT.
So, set up a schedule / weekly plan that will have you working consistently instead of in bursts when your motivation is low. Remember this is marathon, constantly remind yourself of your ultimate success and pace yourself.
Tip: Make diary appointments with yourself setting aside time to work on your thesis.
4. Use tools to get organised
There a few really nifty online tools available to help you keep track of your goals. Essentially, because your goals are part of your strategy for the coming year, you will need a away of keeping track of everything. Find something that works for you. It could be as simple as a Google doc or maybe you want to give bullet journaling a try?
5. Find balance & Believe in yourself
I’m a firm believer in internal validation. You need to back you. You are in charge of your time and how you spend your energy. You’ve come this far, you definitely have it in you to get through the final stretch. Take regular stock of your progress. Reward yourself. And when you are tired, take a break – but don’t quit. You’ve got this!
What are your goals for 2019? I’d love to hear them.