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How many of you reading this has heard someone say the phrase ‘new year, new me’?

(No need to raise your hand if you have… I can’t see you. A nod to yourself is great).

I suspected that would be the case (if you nodded), as for people all across the globe, the beginning of a brand new year symbolises the beginning of a brand new version of themselves, or at least the start of a journey of specific self-improvement.

Sadly, whilst these ‘resolutions’ are birthed with an expected lifespan of anything beyond a full calendar year, they’re often dead and buried within the first few weeks/months… I am speaking from experience here by the way… no judgement at all.

But why does this happen? What is stopping us so early in our quest to develop ourselves?

Well, in a bid to answer these questions, I have collected three essential ways to keep the annual promises you make to yourself, because they don’t deserve to be broken.

I am writing this because I KNOW you want to achieve them. You would not have thought of them in the first place if they were not something you wanted.

So quickly go grab that pen from your coffee table and that notepad you keep in that drawer. Let’s get serious about this.

  1. Resolution?

The word resolution derives from the Latin word resolvere, which means to undo, loosen or settle.

I don’t know about you, but none of those three words scream inspiration, self-improvement and success to me.

Even if we forget about Latin origins, we think of the word ‘resolve’ to mean that something is wrong and needs fixing, which is a bit of a bum note to begin this exciting commitment to yourself.

Hence why I change resolution to goal. This simple rebranding gently shifts our thinking away from one of attempting to fix something damaging about ourselves, to one that defines and pictures a desired outcome and target. The start of a journey.

  1. Get it out of your head and plan SMART-ly

There are many, many advantages to writing down your goals. Some of those advantages may require a neuroscientist to explain… and I am no neuroscientist.

I do however know that by writing down your aspirations you are formalising your commitment to yourself. It is like turning a verbal contract into a written one.

Additionally, you are taking your desires out of your brain, where they can easily be forgotten, and putting them into an area where they can be stored, reviewed. Positioned in a place where you can remind your brain of them every single day.

That’s not all though! By writing these goals down as smart objectives, you can specify further and build more of an action plan to get to where you want to be.


Here’s how you can add the five elements of SMART:


Specific – Let’s dig down to the details. Here’s an example: If you goal reads ‘run more’, you could be more specific. Helpful questions here include:

  • How much more?
  • 20 minutes more?
  • 20 miles more?
  • 20% more?
  • More than what?


Measurable – This is super important, as this is where you decide how your progress will be measured. By creating this, you can clarify your progress into something tangible, which will boost you to continue going throughout the year… no matter what events may happen.

Back to our example, you may therefore progress your goal to add specific purposes, and then state how many times a week you are planning to run, or what distance you want to cover.

Helpful questions here include:

  • How exactly will you measure this?
  • How will you know when you have this?

Achievable – What would be the point of setting a goal that you don’t think you can achieve? That would just be totally demoralising.

It is fundamental for your goal to stretch your capabilities, so that it is challenging, but ultimately not so that is becomes impossible or perhaps that it even begins impacting your life negatively.

For example, if my goal was to run every hour, not only would it shred my hamstrings, but it would also shred my personal and professional life.

Helpful questions here include:

  • How achievable is my goal?
  • How can I make my goal more achievable?
  • What do I need to achieve my goal?


Relevant –  At this point it can be helpful to think like you are at the end. Think like you have achieved your goal.

Does it positively impact your life in a way that outweighs the time and potentially money that you invested in achieving it?

If so, then it looks as though it is a goal worth setting.

However, to revisit our example, if you have huge dreams of running in every continent of the world and completing marathon after marathon across multiple cities. How does that fit with your life and other ambitions?

This step does not mean over thinking and finding reasons to not do what you desire, it is a safety check to guarantee you are committing yourself to something worthwhile.


Timely – People set deadlines for a reason, and as much as it may feel like it, it is not to add unnecessary pressure onto your shoulders and induce unbearable levels of stress.

Deadlines give us the clarity and control which we need to motivate us.

It does add a little pressure, however, a commitment without any pressure, internal or external, can be thrown out and disregarded easily. Which is what we are ultimately trying to avoid!

Back to the example – For the first month of running, I want to run 10 miles. Following this, I will add 1 mile to the total of distance I want to cover each month.

  1. Celebrate Successes

Mentioned this a few paragraphs back when talking about the ‘measurable’ section of SMART goal setting, however I think it is crucial to celebrate all the steps you take on the journey of achieving your goal.


Recognise them! Write them down! Tell the world that you just ran your first mile! Celebrate yourself and your achievements and fuel your hunger for more.



Alex & The Excel Team

P.S. If you would like to discuss any of your learning & development challenges for 2021, call us on +44(0) 1628488 854. 

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