I'm not a big fan of New Years resolutions. Sure I've made dozens
of them, all with good intentions and a bit of magical thinking, believing
this time the resolution will stick. Maybe a few have, but generally these
wishful self-promises end up broken. And when that happens my self-esteem
You see, every time you break a self-promise, your self-trust is weakened.
Every time you give up on your commitments your self-confidence takes a
hit. And every time you look back on broken resolutions, your
self-assessment hurts, not helps, your performance future.
By contrast, I am a huge fan of goals or dreams or aspirations or targeted
focus. Call it what you like. Mine come in a variety of forms, anything
from a life-to-do-list to aspirational dreams. But their achievement hinges
on the same element - incremental action. I learned in twenty years of
management the power behind small steps.
One baby step, then another and another eventually leads to achievement.
Most of us are unlikely to hit home-run equivalents with our work or life
goals. But by incrementally nibbling at them, we can accomplish most
anything, actualizing life dreams and winning at working. Like the Chinese
proverb reminds us, "The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away
So, instead of New Years resolutions, I suggest you try an alternative this
year. First, assess your progress. Second, align your direction.
Start by writing down your accomplishments for the last twelve months,
asking yourself, what's different today from a year ago. These don't have
to be big or work-only achievements, but note incremental progress in any
part of your life. If I can do more sit-ups this year than last, that goes
on my list. If I've read thirty books, I put that down. If I have a better
relationship with a client, it's there.
Now, take a few minutes to savor your list, breathing in the powerful
feeling of personal progress. It's amazing how good it feels to see what
you're accomplished. Whenever I observe a tangible list of what I've
achieved in just twelve months, it fuels my energy for what I can do in the
next twelve. And that leads me to the second part of the experience: seeing
where I'm headed. Like a compass, the list helps me align my focus and
build incremental goals in the direction I want to be traveling.
You see, people who are winning at working leverage the power of
incremental progress to build their performance, reach their goals,
actualize their dreams and impact their results. In the process they build
their self-esteem, self-trust and self-confidence. They know accomplishment
breeds accomplishment; success produces success; and progress multiplies
progress. Want to be winning at working? Start fueling your progress with
© 2005 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.
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Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and on-line instructor. Visit www.nanrussell.com or contact Nan at firstname.lastname@example.org.