The Antidote for Unsuccessful New Year's Resolutions

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Bestselling author Kevin Eikenberry offers a two-step approach to creating -- and keeping -- goals for the coming year -- both professionally and personally. The two-step process of reflection and projection will help you actually stick to your resolutions and accelerate your success.

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Do you know someone who seems to make the same mistake repeatedly? This person isn't taking time to reflect on what worked (and what didn't) in their past experiences

Bestselling author and leadership expert Kevin Eikenberry offers a two-step process to carve New Year's Resolutions in stone rather than writing them in sand.

He says people typically fall into three categories when developing New Year's resolutions: those who use the end of the year as a way to be introspective and look back on the past year, those who spend time looking forward to set goals and plan the coming year, and those who intend to do one or the other but end up doing neither.

"Those who do nothing could be the focus of a different article. But each of the first two groups is doing something positive and helpful, but they are missing something. Both groups are only doing half of what is necessary to create really powerful resolutions. The most effective process includes both pieces: reflection and projection," says Eikenberry.

Reflection is the key to capitalizing on your past experiences. "Do you know someone who seems to make the same mistake repeatedly? This person isn't taking time to reflect on what worked (and what didn't) in their past experiences," says Eikenberry.

Reflection allows us to learn and grow from our past experiences. Which is why people tend to do it at the end of the year; it gives them time to take stock of their year and look for the things they learned.

Eikenberry cautions that doing this reflection successfully is about more than collecting lessons. "Reflection is also about growing from those lessons. Effective reflection leads to an outcome -- an intention for applying those lessons in the future; which is the next step" he says.

Projection is the process of looking forward. When you take time at the end of the year to look ahead and set some goals you are projecting.

"Projection is planning; thinking about the future, deciding what you want and then expecting success," Eikenberry says. "When you plan from a perspective of expected success, you plan more thoroughly. And when you plan more thoroughly, you improve your ability to execute those plans."

"This is a more engaging process than just creating a New Year's Resolution," he adds, "and it gives you a much better chance of making your 'resolutions' real."

How To Do It
Books could be -- and have been -- written on specific details and tools, so instead of offering an in-depth treatise on approaches, Eikenberry suggestions one simple thing you can do: ask yourself questions.

Ask yourself questions to reflect on the past year, on the lessons you learned and more.

Ask yourself questions to think about the coming year, what you want to achieve and how you can use the lessons of the past to reach those plans more rapidly.

"Asking questions and answering them is one of the most powerful ways to help you reach any new goal or objective at any time of year," he says.

Late December is definitely a time when this two-step approach is helpful. But you can use this approach any time you wish, or any time you are looking for a kick start on success.

Maybe ...

  • Once a quarter
  • At your birthday
  • At the start (or end) of a new job
  • At the start (or end) of a big project

"You can reflect and project anytime you want," he says. "In fact, the more you think in terms of learning from your past and applying it to your future goals and plans, the more you accelerate your progress"

Eikenberry adds that the best way to succeed includes knowing where we have been and using that knowledge as a foundation for planning the future. Using the two-step process of reflection and projection will help accelerate success in any endeavor.

Eikenberry created a new tool to help unlock the power of these two steps that includes a set of 26 questions (13 for refection and 13 for projection). Download a free copy of Make Your 2008 Great today.

Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the bestselling author of Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Time. He also is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services.

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