It’s early January as I write this, and it’s yet another year that I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions. While I love the feeling of renewal each new year brings, my own goal-setting isn’t usually tied specifically to January. I often set goals throughout the year and am usually already working towards one when the year turns over.
However, this year, I was intrigued by an idea I saw on social media, which was to adopt one word or phrase to focus on for the year. So, while I know from research that specific goals are really helpful to boost achievement, I also like the notion of an overarching theme to accompany, or maybe even guide, those goals. I have so many words that might define a focus for me this year—joy, balance, mindfulness, to name a few—but I happened to see this idea on the heels of having read the book “Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done” by Jon Acuff, and that ultimately guided my choice of word for the year.
“Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done” touches on an issue that many people have: They are good at making plans and starting projects, but struggle to finish them because of their perfectionism. Acuff gives wonderful, concrete recommendations as to how we can recalibrate our goals and find ways to avoid perfectionism in the pursuit of finishing more things. As Sheryl Sandberg once put it, “Done is better than perfect.”
Acuff’s book resonated strongly with me because I’m very good at coming up with ideas and starting projects, but my energy for finishing them isn’t as strong. That’s not to say that I haven’t finished projects, but I do find that starting tasks is much more motivating than finishing them. And here in 2019, I find myself with more nearly-done projects than usual. In particular, I have several research papers that are tantalizingly close to submission, and focusing on finishing those is a very attractive goal.
One other gem from Acuff’s book that really got me thinking is his recommendation to cut a goal in half or give yourself a longer timeline to finish it. Again, this goes against much of the wisdom of goal-setting, which encourages setting more challenging goals. But achieving half of a goal seems much better than not achieving any part of it, don’t you agree?
So, my word for the year is “finish.” I’m using this to help guide not only my work, but also plans with my family. For example, my daughters have a current obsession with American Girl dolls, and we have patterns and fabric to make a wide variety of doll clothes for them. I’m eager to start these sewing projects with my kids, but more importantly, I want to be sure we have finished clothes for them to enjoy in their play. So, for me, this may mean using Velcro for closures rather than buttons (because buttonholes are pretty fiddly to make).
What’s your word for the year? And what are your strategies for finishing as strong as you start? If your intentions this year include optimizing HR practices for your business, becoming a better interviewee, or connecting with your employees, reach out to me for a consultation! I’d love to learn more about your goals and how we can work together to achieve them.