New year, new you

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Well here we are, 2023. New year, new resolutions. Just more than two weeks in, here’s a question: Have you stuck to those resolutions? Or have they already fallen by the wayside?

If the latter is the case, you wouldn’t be alone, of course. According to survey results analyzed by the Discovering Happy Habits website, just a week into a given new year, 1 in 4 of those who made resolutions have already given up on them. The number only gets bigger with time. At two weeks, where we are right now, just 71% are still pursuing their resolutions. At one month: 64%. After 6 months, a majority have given up on them altogether. Of those who’ve given up, about a third felt their resolutions were unrealistic, and another third just failed to keep track of their successes. A quarter forgot about their resolutions entirely, and one in ten felt they set too many goals to reasonably achieve.

Personally, I don’t know that’s it’s healthy to make resolutions simply because it is a new year. I prefer to set goals routinely instead. Because I study psychology, I understand the power of introspection, and try to constantly take stock, evaluating my own actions or inaction. 

[Related: Don't let success overshadow the necessity of long- and short-range planning]

However, like most, when the new year rolls around I do tend to look deeper inside and evaluate what goals I did not achieve in the past year – most importantly, I try to honestly assess just why. For instance, as many of you will know, I’ve been working on my PhD in psychology, certainly a daunting task on top of driving truck for a living. I have a timetable that I am trying to stick to. For most universities, the doctoral process takes about seven years to complete. My university, though, has done considerable research into why some doctoral students are successful and some are not. They have developed a four-year program with the understanding that many students who begin the journey fail to achieve the degree simply because of the length of time it takes, and because funding runs out.

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While I’m on track to finish within the four-year frame, one never knows what may come up along the way. One of my goals for the new year is to adjust my time frame to complete the process ahead of schedule.

I’d like to encourage you to approach your own goals similarly. That is, as adjustment to things that are concrete.

That doesn't mean that when setting goals you can't begin big, maybe even scary big, as long as it is something that inspires you (otherwise, you’re dealing with a wish, not a goal). There are those who claim it is better that you truly believe your goal is something you can achieve. Yet in my view, a goal serves the purpose of forcing you to stretch your boundaries and elevate your self-expectations. As a believer in a higher power, I feel that God expects you to step out of your comfort zone, and never gives you a dream that you cannot achieve.

Yet a goal is also something that you must be willing to sacrifice for no matter the cost, as long as it does not hurt you or others. 

As my colleague Gary Buchs has written about in relation to concrete business planning and goals, write down what you want to accomplish. Once you put a goal in writing, it will help you begin collecting relevant information and outlining steps to produce results -- fundamentally, you begin to see the opportunities. Write them down, make them positive and in the present tense, and make sure they are action-oriented, as specific and as detailed as possible. Set a deadline -- this will activate the subconscious. 

While you’re doing this, also spell out just why you desire to achieve your goal -- this will build the intensity to achieve it.

Identify possible obstacles, challenges that may keep you from achieving your goals. Rank them in order of priority, and then begin the process of removing them from your path of success. Once you know the obstacles or challenges and you begin making preparations to remove them, you can design an action plan to reach your goals. If you can make this all as detailed as possible, the desired result can be broken down into smaller, achievable steps that propel you ever more closer to it.

Finally, visualize and affirm. Look to the future. See yourself achieving what you want to achieve, and reviewing your progress daily. Both tasks will seat it all deeper into your subconscious mind and keep your progress in your conscious thought to avoid procrastination.

Another important affirmation process is speaking aloud your goal, your deadline, and the positive impact of achieving it. Do this every day to set it deep into your psyche. When you come across unexpected obstacles or challenges, you will thus have the resolve to rise above them. None of this will happen if unless you are persistent and determined, taking positive action every day in the direction of achievement. 

Remember: Any goal you set is a worthwhile goal, and necessitates effort on your part. The reward is a new you, at a new level, in this new year.

Find more information about business goals and how to effectively plan, among a myriad other topics, in the Overdrive/ATBS-coproduced "Partners in Business" manual for new and established owner-operators, a comprehensive guide to running a small trucking business. Click here to download the updated 2022 edition of the Partners in Business manual free of charge. 

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