With the new year practically upon us there’s no better time to discuss the age old issue of setting objectives.

Prior to midnight millions of people will count down to a new year already filled with promises and expectations, but for how many will those expectations be realised?

The truth of the matter (well according to the University of Scranton cited within the Journal of Clinical Psychology) is that

only 8% of people are successful in realising their new year’s resolutions.

Flip this around and we have 92% of people who have failed to deliver to a target which they alone have set.

I can assure you that 80% of the people reading this right now are convinced that they will achieve their objectives.  I can also tell you now that a lot of you will be disappointed.

How can we increase our chances?

Nothing guarantees success, there will always be risk.  But here’s a couple of project management principles you can apply stack the odds a little more in your favour:

Define your scope

Clarify exactly what the objective is, make it specific.  Determine exactly what it will include or exclude and make it measureable.

For example, the top New Year’s resolution for 2014 (according to the University of Scranton cited within the Journal of Clinical Psychology) was to lose weight, closely followed by getting organised.  No offense to the millions who made these resolutions, but they are rubbish!

Take lose weight, great I currently weigh 200 kilos (well not really but you get the point) and if by the end of the year I now weigh 198 kilos, have I met my objective, well yes.  But has that actually had any impact on my wellbeing? Probably not.

Better way: Determine a goal and points where you will measure your success; for example: lose 24 kilos over the year by shedding 2 kilos per month.

Get it in writing

Essentially you are making a contract with yourself, you wouldn’t do business without the proper documentation.  Follow the same approach, writing it down makes it more tangible; more real.  Write it somewhere where it will constantly remind you, but still appropriate for the nature of the objective; so if it is to get a new job- maybe not on your desk at your current workplace.

Make yourself accountable

What implications are there if you don’t achieve your resolutions?  Well none.  Make yourself accountable, not just to yourself, but to someone else- the thought of letting someone else down is far more powerful than the thought of letting yourself down.  Even better make yourself socially accountable- the threat of letting multiple people down is much stronger self-blackmailing agent.

Short term goals

The shorter the term of the goal the more likely you are to achieve it.  There’s a nice principle in project management called Parkinson’s law; effectively work will expand or contract to fill the time available.  So if you have 1 year to get a new job and assuming it takes 2 months to get a job, effort will be put in towards the last few months to achieve the target.  What about if you gave yourself only 2 months to get a new job? You would actually find yourself putting your plan into action straight away.

Have a plan

Confucius said something like; “if you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there”.  Plan your journey and take ownership of your objectives.  Break your resolution into small specific steps.  If left ambiguous and unplanned, yes by chance it may be achieved, but the odds (92% fail) are not in your favour.

So best of luck in the new year and here’s to achieving our dreams.

Have a great 2015 from the Team at Scope Training

PS By simply writing your resolutions in the comments box you will be increasing your chances of success; they will be in writing and you will now be socially accountable- enjoy

One Response to Project Managing the New Year
  1. Thanks for this. Admittedly my planned resolution was actually to lose weight.I’ve now ammended to losing 3kgs by the end of jan. Thanks and have a great NY


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