29 December 2015

New Year, New You

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As 2015 draws to an end people begin to focus on making the most of the New Year. Changes to lifestyle, budget, career. Everything is fair game when you’re planning to make 2016 the best year of your life ever.

Come January 1st, as we emerge from our New Year’s Eve stupor we set in motion the plans we’ve laid out to increase our productivity and energy for the New Year. Gym membership, done. Quit Smoking, I’m wearing the patches right now. Save money for a holiday, budget on spreadsheet with all the bells and whistles at the ready.

And then you return to work, the day to day grind overtakes the best of intentions and you find yourself paying $52 a month to a gym you haven’t visited yet, the nicotine replacement patches are in the bin and you’re standing in the sweltering heat of a Sydney summer with a cigarette between your teeth and the carefully prepared budget has already been blown away as though it never existed.

For a lot of people, setting up a series of New Year’s Resolutions is more of a habit than an actual desire to make a change. It seems as though we are expected as adults to make grand announcements at the beginning of every year as to how we will improve in the year to come. Setting multiple goals may work for some people but for the majority it’s better to set goals one at a time.

Goal setting is definitely not rocket science, unless the goal you are setting is to become a rocket scientist in which case it is. Setting a goal, be it for personal achievement, career progression or just to get your level of fitness back to nearer what it was ten years ago is about taking the overall big picture and breaking it down into a series of achievable steps.

Here are a few tips designed to make sure the goals you set for 2016 can be easily achieved.


When I was at school I had a teacher who used to meet all objections to essay and assignments with “K.I.S.S.” Keep It Simple Stupid. This doesn’t mean your goal can’t be big. Make the goal so big it scares the life out of you if you want to. No matter the size of the goal, when it’s broken down into bite sized chunks keep it simple. Make it easy for you to attain your goal. Once you attain one goal, set another. Make the year a year of small achievements. No matter how small they are singularly, by the end of the year the accumulative effect can change your life.

Make it worthwhile:

When setting a goal, make sure it’s something that has weight behind it. If you set yourself the goal of quitting drinking, but have no real interest in it, you’ll last a week. It’s the same with losing weight. If the goal you set revolves around a restrictive diet that denies you your favourite foods, it will be the worse 8 hours of your life. Instead of setting goals that restrict or deny, set a goal that limits. Set positive goals. If you want to lose weight, set the goal to exercise a half an hour a day, or to eat more green leafy vegetables and salads. Everything in moderation, even life changes.

How do you eat an elephant?

I used to work for a distance education company and whenever I had a student call in worried about how they were going to achieve something or finish something on time my advice was always “how do you an eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Break your goal into achievable steps. If you want to write a novel, setting the goal to write 100,000 words by December can sound overwhelming. However, if you set the goal to write a 5,000 word chapter each week you’ll end up with a 100,000 word first draft in just 5 months. Whatever it is you want to achieve move towards it one-step at a time and you’ll achieve it a lot faster than you think you can.

If at first you don’t succeed, forget about it:

Whether you’re new to goal setting or you’ve done it a million times and never really achieved anything, dust yourself off, have a look at why your goal wasn’t reached and start again. There’s no point to just waving your hands in the air and giving up. It’s not about how many times you fall over, it’s about how many times you get up. I recently watched my nephew as he realised what his feet were for. From crawling across the floor to reach his mother he discovered that by using furniture, dogs or random uncles as something to balance on he could pull himself to his feet. It took him a few days to get more walking than falling, but in the end he was off and running, literally. Who knew babies could move fast? Babies and kids learn by witnessing, and they succeed by failing. If my nephew had fallen over and said to himself “oh forget this for a joke, someone can carry me,” he’d never have learnt to run. As adults we seem to be under the misinterpretation that success happens overnight and has to be instant. No matter how good – or bad – you are at goal setting you will fall over sooner or later. Get up and keep going.

Edit, review and readjust:

There are times when a goal being set just isn’t enough to warrant the effort it will take to achieve it. Sitting down and regularly review your goal. Does it still inspire you? Would you go without something to make the goal happen? If not, scrap it. There’s nothing wrong with admitting a goal that has been set not living up to expectations. Edit your goals, review if they are still inspiring and readjust your focus if they aren’t. Completing a goal just for the sake of it doesn’t inspire anyone to continue to set goals later on.

Whether or not you are a resolution setter, or a resolution ignorer, the start of a new year is a great time to re-evaluate where you are heading and how to get to where you need to be. If you do decide to set yourself some goals, apply the tips above and, in theory, you should see results faster than you can say “what gym membership?”

Mike Cullen has recently returned to Akolade after a period as the conference producer for one of Australia's leading economic think tanks. Mike began working in the conference industry in 2007 after looking for a career change from the high pressured world of inbound customer service. Mike has worked for some of the most well-known conference and media companies in the B2B space and in his spare time is working on his first novel in a planned Epic Fantasy trilogy.

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