The Secrets to Making Positive Change in the New Year

I experience this conflict at the beginning of every year.  Can you relate?

  • New Year’s Resolutions are proven be as effective as fad diets.
  • And yet…I always want to improve and be “a better me.” And the New Year has an undeniable “fresh start” appeal!

So, do we accept the status quo, or “go for it” with some resolutions?

I’d like to propose something in between…

Let’s get out of “Resolution Regret”

Many of us are good at setting intentions. For example: “This year I will be more effective at managing my time.”  “I will take more time to really engage my team.”  “I will exercise more and eat a healthier diet.”  “I will focus on my career goals.”

But we often don’t consider what’s needed to actually make it happen…with failure and frustration the final result.


We’re often inclined to create a list of things we want to change.  Instead, I invite you to get clear on the ONE  change that would really make a difference in your career or life, this year.

What single change will be both personally fulfilling AND increase your leadership impact on those around you?

I help my clients get clear on how others perceive their strengths and key growth opportunities by conducting interviews with the people who work with them. Would there be value in asking the people around you for input on the one change that will make the biggest difference for you?


If, like me, you have a tendency to be hard on yourself, you are likely judging yourself for not already having made this important change.

You may be saying to yourself: “I should be farther along on this goal already!” or “What’s wrong with me that I haven’t already made this change?”

Notice that energy used on these self-messages is far from motivating.  And it actually interferes with our ability to move forward.

So take a few moments to appreciate the good work you have done this past year, and acknowledge your many successes.

And it’s time to accept that where you are on this goal in question is exactly where you are meant to be.  Only when we fully accept where we are right now can we create the mental space to move into positive action.


Every positive change comes at a cost.  Get clear on what the cost is for you.

If you want to be more patient, you may need to give up the adrenaline rush of control that you get when you interrupt, or push your agenda.

If you want to get more focused on your priorities, you may need to give up the sense of freedom you currently enjoy in not planning out your time.  You may also need to give up the relative calm you get from avoiding what needs to be done.

If you want to exercise more, you may need to give up some late-night lounging, or to get up earlier.  And you may need to give up the comfort of sitting on a chair in favour of the physical discomfort of pushing your limits.

Examining the “down side” of your change will help you mindfully choose if this is the right time to commit to it.


It’s likely that you’ve already tried to make this change.  So the great news is that you have a ton of information about what doesn’t work!

In his book “Triggers” Marshall Goldsmith explains the biggest mistake we make in setting goals.  We don’t take into account that our current environment is set up to “trigger” us into our old patterns.

Using the “patience” goal as an example… We may be triggered by someone dragging out what they are trying to say.  Before we dive into our old habit of interrupting them, we can try a mindful moment of awareness.  During that moment, we remind our self of the value of being patient, giving us a chance at demonstrating patient behaviour.

We will be triggered into our old behaviours UNLESS we increase our awareness at the moment we’re triggered. With this awareness, we can make the choice to change behaviour.

This isn’t easy.  Goldsmith points out that to create change we need either structure or self-discipline. And we greatly overestimate our capacity for self-discipline.  And so, we need structure.

He outlines some great structures in his book.  The bottom line is that we need to continually ask our self the acronym “AIWATT”:  Am I Willing, At This Time, to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic?   And if we can get a coach involved in continually holding us accountable, all the better.

Which secrets do you need to consider for success in the year ahead?
Wishing you the very best!