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Aspirations for the new year and how to achieve them

Aspirations for the new year and how to achieve them
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Andy Dickson has managed people, teams, and functions for 32 years. He is Head of Global Customer Solutions at Impact and has recently celebrated his 25th year working here. In this anniversary series, he will be sharing his top tips, thoughts, and learnings about managing people better. 

I have somewhere between 1 and – if I’m lucky – 2,000 weeks left to live, and what to do with this rapidly diminishing time is a question that’s high on my agenda. 

I am currently reading Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. It’s a fascinating read, the notion being that, on average, a human being has about 4,000 weeks in which to write their life’s script. This varies massively, of course, as the reality is that none of us knows how many we really have, and the diverse ways in which we deal with this uncertainty are a big part of the book. I would thoroughly recommend reading it; however, don’t expect a lot of answers, as much of it is reasoned discussion that helps you make sense of our human limitations, decisions and how we use our time. (And – spoiler alert – for all you time management geeks, he’s not a big fan!) 

At this time of year, many of us have great intentions for the twelve months ahead. But let’s not limit ourselves to making changes only at New Year. The reality is that now (whenever now is) is always a good time to create positive new habits. 

Alex Staniforth, from the excellent charity Mind Over Mountains, recently reminded me about a quote from boxer Mike Tyson: ‘Everyone has a good plan until they get punched in the mouth.’ We must always start with a plan or strategy, and this sense of individual or collective purpose – or ‘what‘ – gives us a sense of direction and motivation to get started. However, what my time as a leader has taught me is that it is equally important to have a vision of how you will make that journey. 

An organisation that has collectively agreed on how will be able to bounce back when they get punched in the mouth. And this is when an organisation truly discovers who they are. 

This is often outlined in an organisation’s values, guiding principles, or culture, but whatever it’s called, it’s about a common understanding of how we travel together, how we work together, how we problem-solve, and how we support each other. The goal may change, but the how acts as our guiding light and moral compass.  

So, if you want to achieve something specific in 2022, be clear about your how. Only with this in mind can you be sure that whatever hits you, you will know how to respond both individually and as a unified collective.  

At Impact, organisations often ask us to help with their how. This is usually communicated as a desire for a new set of principles, practices, or commitments, but it is essentially about needing new behaviours. This can seem daunting, but to quote my colleagues Dom Fitch and Grahame Broadbelt: ‘Change is either people doing different work or people doing work differently.’ To make that happen, the person or people making that change need to really want it. Our main task as leaders, therefore, is to lead and motivate our people so that they want to make change happen.  

This model by Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson (2004) outlines four fundamental components of success, which are vital to think about when setting goals: 

  1. Happiness: Something that will make you happy 

  1. Achievement: Something that will be a notable achievement 

  1. Significance: Something that will make a difference to someone significant to you 

  1. Legacy: Something that will last over time 

Personally, I do have a plan for 2022 that incorporates all four areas, which I hope to share in another article very soon. In the meantime, I encourage you to reflect on what’s important to you for the year ahead. What’s the plan for achieving it? And more importantly, how will you respond when you get punched in the mouth?