Written by Ali Fenwick, Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology at Hult.
Have you been thinking about your New Year’s resolutions, but still not sure what to focus on in 2018? Finding it hard to come up with more meaningful resolutions to break away from the conventional ones like living a healthier lifestyle or planning to visit a far-away friend? Apparently, you are not the only one facing this challenge.
Recently, I have received many requests from people to help support them with creating resolutions that they feel they want (and can stick to). A difficult challenge at first, I thought, but later it dawned on me that many of the goals that people focus on are either too far away from the meaningful stuff they do day-to-day or are goals generally associated with the New Year resolution tradition.
About 50% of people make New Year resolutions, but a mere 10% of the people who make them is able to fulfill their goals by year-end. There are many reasons why people don’t stick to their resolutions e.g. lack of commitment, dip in motivation, lack of resources, or loss of interest. Though this is difficult to solve on an individual basis, there are some great strategies you can use to help you achieve your objectives. One specific strategy I want to highlight in this article to help fulfill your New Year resolutions is something I call ‘forward relevance’. Forward relevance is a personal strategy of designing meaningful (actionable) goals that help you create your future-self, instead of looking at your past-self to overcome deficits or break habits.
The first step in this process is to create relevance. A great way to do this is to (1) find something you are actively engaged in on a daily basis, (2) identify the latest trends within this activity and (3) connect these trends to the goals you would like to achieve. This way forward relevance prescribes goals which are meaningful for you to achieve and relevant to the year you are doing it in, which creates a deeper connection between you and your environment, the people involved in helping you achieve your goals and the timeframe to do it in.
Applying forward relevance to trending events
For most of us work is something we are deeply involved in on a daily basis, so connecting New Year resolutions to the work environment is a great way to make your goals transcend beyond self. I want to share with you some key workplace trends for 2018 and provide some suggestions for actionable goals to achieve in the new year (which you find meaningful).
As the rate of change is surpassing the rate of learning, people need to keep up with continuous development and education. Global mobility and technology are radically changing what we learn and how we learn. And as past results are no longer an indicator of future success, continuous education is your gateway to ‘lifetime employability’ in the 21st century.
Forward Relevance: Create a mindset for continuous education
- Identify an area or subject you feel passionate about, but have not learned anything about yet.
- Commit yourself to continuous learning through taking a couple of online courses via a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), attending a masterclass, learning on the job, or enrolling in a professional degree program.
Digital skills gap
Digital skills are becoming one of the most demanded skillsets by employers today. Every business today is a digital business and with the rise of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and the Internet of Things (I.O.T.), digital skill requirements are on the rise. However, fewer people are focusing on or able to fulfill technical skill requirements leading to a global digital skill gap. However, it is becoming easier to build digital competencies thanks to new online platforms and apps which require less programming and coding knowledge.
Forward Relevance: Enhance your digital skills in 2018
- Take a course in Digital Marketing, Programming, Machine Learning, or Coding. This will be paramount to remain relevant in 2018, and beyond.
- Build an online presence, products, and services, or even algorithms using easy-to-use online platforms and apps.
Employee well-being and health is high on the agenda in 2018 for most organizational leaders. Studies show that happy and healthy employees are more engaged at work, more committed to their jobs and organizations, feel more resilient, and are more productive. In today’s business world, talent is contingent upon organizational survival and ensuring that companies create a company culture in which employees can thrive is critical to organizational success. Initiatives to integrate physical and mental well-being into organizational performance management will be on the rise in the workplace in 2018 and beyond.
Forward Relevance: Focus on your physical and psychological well-being
- Actively take part in (or organize) group mindfulness, yoga, or running classes to give your health, mind and physical performance a boost.
- Create a social media support group to engage others in your well-being efforts, provide support and strategies to your social networks, and make new friends who have similar interests. Combined offline and online strategies are a great way to work on your well-being.
Flexible working conditions, otherwise known as precarious work, has been on the rise for the past 10 years and according to statistics will only continue to grow. Changes in labor regulation, globalization, technology and pressures on labor costs, have given way to various flexible work arrangements (e.g. part-time work contracts, telework set-ups, contingency and free-lance based work) lowering the number of full-time employees. Studies show that precarious work arrangements have both benefits and disadvantages to organizations and employees.
Forward Relevance: Boost your ‘lifetime employability’
- Identify and enhance (your) transferable skills. Work on developing skills that you can use in different organizations or for your own business.
- Working part-time or on a contract basis can allow you to be more flexible when and where you work. Work progressively towards finding the perfect work arrangements to facilitate a good work-life balance.
One last note…
Finding a meaningful resolution to focus on is just 25% of achieving your goals. Aside from applying forward relevance to help you achieve your goals, download my five effective strategies to help you make them stick!
Ali Fenwick is Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology at Hult. He teaches organizational behavior, leadership and consulting methods, to both MBA and Executive MBA students.