With the end of January approaching, we’ve had more than three weeks to put our personal New Year’s resolutions in action. According to the theories of psychologist Maxwell Maltz, whose 1960’s hit Psycho-Cybernetics sold 30 million copies, you’ve already made it through the 21 days required to turn your behavior-altering New Year’s resolutions into automatic habits. If this logic suits you, feel free to insert your happy dance here, pat yourself on the back, and cruise off toward the sunset with your happier, healthier self set on autopilot.
The more likely scenario is, with the excitement and momentum of the New Year already fading, the honeymoon is over and you’re facing the reality of the day-in, day-out effort required to form a new, automatic habit for positive change in your life. You’re probably finding that forming a new habit is, in truth, a lot harder than interpretations of Maltz’s findings have made it out to be. You may have even dumped the gym and your low-cal frozen yogurt already and returned to nights spent with Netflix and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s – who am I to judge?
If you’re still on the resolutions bandwagon, don’t shoot the messenger, but you’re probably only one-third of the way through solidifying your new behavior as a habit. Researchers at University College London published a 2009 study in the European Journal of Social Psychology claiming the average time it takes before a new behavior becomes automatic is 66 days. Rather than allowing this sobering reality to bring down your spirits, maybe what you need to get through the next forty-something days of your behavior-to-habit transformation are some small, incremental goals you can accomplish in the short term. Setting some simple goals for your professional life in the year ahead can be the perfect distraction from the perils you face in fulfilling your personal resolutions, and will set you up for greater success in 2017 and beyond.
Committing to learning a new skill, expanding your network, and being adaptable are great places to start in setting professional goals for 2017.
(WARNING! SMPS Plugs Ahead!)
Learning a new skill is as easy as jumping on YouTube and watching a few tutorials – or reaching out to friends or colleagues who are willing to sit down with you and show you the ropes in that new program you’ve been wanting to learn. Check out the SMPS Marketing Mechanics Committee and sign up for their lunch hour seminars to get educated on any one of a variety of skills and software relevant to our industry (these events are free for SMPS members).
To expand your network – commit to being more engaged in the expos and social events you’re invited to attend. Don’t leave these events without collecting a few business cards from the new faces you meet. Register for events hosted by the SMPS Programs Committee where you’ll meet some of our industry’s key movers and shakers. If nothing else, ramp up your LinkedIn page and start to form some new connections, or reconnect with old colleagues and classmates.
You never know where your professional career will take you – so always be willing to adapt to new roles and challenges. Volunteer to help plan an event at your office or head up a volunteer effort with your colleagues. Look into all the SMPS committees that make up SMPS Central Florida and think about joining one that will stretch you outside of your comfort zone. When someone in the office proposes a new idea no one knows how to execute, be the one to step up and find a solution. You might impress yourself with your ability to work through uncharted waters to solve challenges that arise in the workplace.
Every year we remind ourselves just how challenging it is to turn our New Year’s resolutions into automatic, lasting habits. Regardless of whether you stick to these personal commitments in the year ahead, it’s never too late to set short term goals for self-improvement. Committing to learning a new skill, expanding your network, and being adaptable in the year ahead will not only provide a distraction from the day-in, day-out effort of achieving your personal resolutions, but set you up for greater success in your career while surprising yourself and making new friends along the way.
Marketing Coordinator, PCL Construction