Dark nights. Short days. No more festive cheer. In short, January is a bit rubbish. It’s the exact same every year, and yet to many, it’s a time of promise. A fresh start. A clean slate. Time to get in shape and make your dreams come true.
But come February, the gyms are empty. Your running shoes are gathering dust in a cupboard somewhere. And your side hustle hasn’t exactly taken off.
It’s a feeling we’re all familiar with, but why is that? And where does all that fresh-faced excitement go?
Most likely, it’s swallowed by the day to day. Work, kids, school. The endless barrage of things we all have to do, day-in, day-out.
And in an era where finding a work-life balance that works for you has never been more important, committing to the things that make us feel fulfilled in our personal lives is a key part of making us not only better professionals, but happier people.
So how do we stay focused on our goals when there are endless demands on our time and attention?
The answer might be simpler than you think.
In other words, stop relying on quick fixes. None of us are going to get a six-pack or become a millionaire overnight. Most of us will never achieve either. And that’s okay. Change and growth are slow, incremental processes, and they require small, consistent steps over an extended period of time.
Going to the gym every day for two weeks won’t fundamentally improve your health and fitness. Going to the gym twice a week for a year will.
The issue with New Year’s resolutions is that we go in too hard. We set huge goals and expect to see immediate change. And then when it doesn’t materialise, we burn out.
So how do we reverse that cycle? A recent TikTok trend offers surprising insight into how to make significant, sustained life changes over the course of an entire year. And it’s pretty smart.
Treat your life like it’s a business.
There’s a reason that the business year is broken down into quarters. And that’s because tracking improvement over very short periods of time is basically pointless. That’s philosophy number one: In order to see change, you need to give yourself time.
The trend suggests breaking down your goals in exactly the same way a business might. Take an overarching goal and separate it into a series of smaller, more achievable steps that each contribute in some way to helping you achieve your resolution.
Set yourself a series of benchmarks – one for each quarter of the year – and outline several things you can do on a daily or weekly basis that will help you reach that goal. The key thing is to make them achievable, so make sure that you’ll be able to fit them around your other commitments.
For example, if your goal is to get fitter, your overall goal for quarter one might be to run a 5k. Your steps towards that might be trying out a new fitness class, going for a run with a friend, joining a running club, or going for a run on your lunch break once a week.
Each of these goals – in their individual states – are easy to achieve. And they might not sound like much. But by breaking them down into things that don’t feel scary or time consuming, and by committing to making small, consistent changes, suddenly the bigger goals become more and more achievable.
More than anything, don’t get discouraged if things don’t go exactly to plan.
If you don’t achieve a goal, that’s okay.
Small steps are better than nothing at all, and you might just look back a year later and be shocked at how much you achieved.
As a professional, this isn’t a new concept. In the world of employer branding, we know that creating an effective employer brand is a process, and that small changes can have big impacts. So maybe it’s time we applied the same principles to our day-to-day lives. Afterall, it’s a new year. Anything is possible.