I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I feel like there are very few motivators with New Year’s resolutions. So many people are saying they will do wonderful things, but then they forget about them by February. One of the most visible examples of this is at the gym. I love to run, and always exercise throughout the year. It makes me feel good, and I want to be healthy. I always dread when New Year’s comes around because the gym and the roads are filled with people who made a New Year’s resolution to exercise. You know what, most of them quit before February. Why does this happen? What happens to their commitment? I think that in many cases, they don’t set themselves up to succeed. They expect too much of themselves in too short of a period of time, and they don’t create a network of individuals and practices to support them in their success.
Healthy leadership practices are like exercise. They take commitment and practice. You can’t expect yourself to be perfect off the bat. We are all human. Our mental and physical abilities have good days and bad days. So, just like exercising, there are a few things that can help you stay committed, not just be a part of a New Year’s Resolution fad.
1. Have an accountability buddy. An accountability buddy is someone you trust who will encourage you to me the leader and person you should strive to be. If you stumble, your accountability buddy will ask you, “What happened? or do you realize…?” This person should not have any fear of pointing out when you can improve. They are also there to encourage you and support you. They are there to congratulate you on your wins. We all need constructive feedback if we are going to improve.
2. Set measurable and attainable goals. Just like exercise, you can’t expect yourself to be able to run a marathon your first day out the door. The same is true with leadership. Set goals for yourself. I will attend ____ educational seminars. I will practice reflective listening once a day for the first week. You can set goals for your career. I will find a mentor who will help me be the best ___ I can be, and help me navigate my career path. Create a white board or check list where you can see your goals, and be reminded of them every day.
3. Educate yourself. Our New Year’s Resolutions always include bettering ourselves in some way, which means that you have to learn in order to improve. Create space to learn. Schedule time to attend seminars, webinars, read books, and research topics that will help you.
4. Be kind with yourself. You will stumble, and you have days where you may fail. The trick is don’t give up. As long as you are trying you are making progress. In leadership, a stumble can mean that you have impacted someone else. If you have, own it. Be authentic, and apologize if needed. But, don’t use it as an excuse not to succeed. Use your stumble as a learning experience, and an opportunity to connect with the people around you. Reach out to your employees and ask for help. Check in with your accountability buddy for advice and support. Great leaders are not an island. Great leaders surround themselves with people who will challenge, support, and grow them. Be kind with yourself, and allow them to help you.
Striving to be your best self, whether it be as a runner or a leader, is not always easy. However, you can set up a system to help you resolve to be the best leader you can be. Remember to be kind with yourself. Remember you are human. Set measurable and attainable goals. Make resolutions, not just at New Year’s, but resolve to be the best leader you can be, not just at the beginning of the year. I hope I will see you in the leadership “gym” throughout the year!