//On Your Mark #1 – New Year Resolutions Career Goal Reset

On Your Mark #1 – New Year Resolutions Career Goal Reset

February 22, 2019
coffee and notebook on table

Under the theme, “on your mark, get set, go”, the following is my humble attempt to meld professional and personal curiosities as well as continued learnings in my role as HR Lead for Apis Group.

At the start of a new year and half way through the financial year, it is typically the time for us all to make fresh life resolutions, calibrate our personal and professional goals and reflect on our strengths and areas for improvement.

January is one of my favourite months with world class tennis action galore on our Aussie shores – happy to openly declare that I am an absolute sports nut! I have watched with great interest the different tennis matches, personalities, skills and approaches to preparing, delivering results and recovering for the next challenge on the tennis court and in life generally. No comment on tennis shenanigans (or perceptions thereof) on/off the court being reported in the media!!

It gave me some food for thought about what we can learn from these great athletes…

  1. The value of planning is often underestimated. At times we can jump straight to the “get set” or “go” parts of our theme above and more often than not when we do, the achievement of our goals is hindered, and impact of our actions can be diluted across the board. Professional athletes often talk about hard yards done in the off season to bear fruit when it really counts.

    Be clear on your priorities, timeframes and linkages (or ‘’dependencies’’ in Project Management speak). Don’t be afraid to review and consult on these regularly so you stay on point now and into the future (while also learning from the past).

    Kudos to one of my previous employers, David Cohen from LinkedIn Learning who taught me about the “Tyranny of the Urgent”. He challenged me to think about elephants (most important, critical activities with highest risk and impact) and ants (administrative, less/unimportant tasks). At times we can get hung up on the ants unnecessarily and not focus on our key elephants in a timely fashion (often with unhelpful consequences).

  2. Start small – if you are anything like me, sometimes we can tend to go hard and bite off more than we can chew. It is important to set challenging but also achievable goals in different areas of your professional and personal life. As we seek to attain and maintain a healthy work/life balance it is also important to set goals in our personal life – sometimes we neglect to do this.

    Don’t be afraid to break things down into steps and plan the how/why/what/when/who on a small scale (hourly, morning/afternoon, daily as needed) which can then help nail medium term goals (weekly, monthly) en route to achieving large/long-term quarterly and yearly goals. Big shout out to our Managing Partner, Tim Ryan who inspires Apis staff to do this in his regular individual career journey catch ups with them.

    Tennis players who go point by point and block out previous set/match success or loss appear to be better able to go the distance each match and have longevity in their career (supported by their short/medium/long term goals).

  3. Reflect and celebrate your progress (and that of others) daily/monthly/yearly and be kind to yourself and team around you when your goals and/or plans don’t come to fruition. Learn from good experiences and challenges, the latter often being the most character and resilience building.

    Gratitude is important. Stacks of research exists around the connection between thankfulness and happiness (and ultimately satisfaction). Several tennis players have stood out to me after their intense matches. Often the first comments they make are to thank and recognise the team behind them to help achieve results.

    Don’t forget to ask for feedback, positive and constructive, areas for improvement and wins (quick ones and those with more tenure). Bounce your ideas off colleagues, family and/or friends so they can support and keep you accountable as you seek to be true to who you are and grow, learn and share in all aspects of your life. Sometimes they are better positioned to see our blind spots than we are!

  4. Give yourself space, take time to rest and learn how to “be” rather than “do”. Pacing yourself aligned to your personality, gifts and circumstances personally and professionally cannot be underestimated. Be authentic to where you are at, don’t compare yourself to others. Some of our best ideas and learnings to work towards our goals happen when we are genuinely refreshed. Think sleep, do activities that help you relax and rejuvenate, connect with family, friends and colleagues. Ice bath anyone a la the tennis players? (only kidding)

    Whether you consider yourself an effective planner and/or good at relaxation (or not), rethink taking time to give yourself space to reflect and plan in different areas of your life – reckon it will make a life changing difference, it has for me!

  5. Be bold and have courage to take risks and try a different approach and embark on new adventures. People like to be in control – it is how we are wired. As Harvard Professor Dan Gilbert puts it, “being effective – changing things, influencing things, making things happen – is one of the fundamental needs with which human brains seem to be naturally endowed.”

    Once you dip your toes in and try something different, however small, you will start a new learning journey, build momentum and gain confidence. Remember being and feeling connected to others as part of a team enables us to have courage and take risk.

    Consider also the words of Gretchen Rubin, “What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while” and “We manage what we monitor”. On the tennis front, even the world class champion Roger Federer continues to be willing to try new things and make changes to his already amazing game and stellar career.

How do I suggest one puts into action some of the above ideas? Find what works for you and get started. For me, I am kicking off a weekly journal – where my goals, gratitude points, successes and insights from experiences/debriefs with colleagues, family and friends and recalibrated priority lists are captured!

As you launch into this new year with enthusiasm and wisdom, I encourage you to reflect, plan, collaborate, seek balance and give yourself space mentally, emotionally, physically, socially and spiritually. Here’s to an awesome 2019!

P.S. title has a more sentimental origin, it is in memory of my beloved brother Mark who suddenly passed away last year on Father’s Day. These articles are dedicated to him as I seek to reflect, do, be and live with renewed purpose in the year ahead…