Achievement Resolutions

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Happy New Year!

The start of a new year. This is a time when people look back at the previous twelve months with either nostalgia or sometimes regret and look forward to the upcoming year with hope. For many, that means setting resolutions or goals. Setting New Year’s Resolutions is indicative of the willingness of people to take more control of who they are and where they are going – in other words – become more achievement oriented.

So, why do most New Year’s Resolutions fail – and fail early?

Because setting resolutions or goals is only one aspect of achievement. There are four others that must be present before you can be completely achievement oriented and therefore, be motivated to making those resolutions stick. Two of these aspects are behavioural. But the most important are the three attitudinal attributes. Here are the five aspects of achievement-oriented people:

  • Willingness to continually set challenging, but achievable goals.

    Achievement-oriented people not only set goals at the start of a year or a period in their life, but they continually set them throughout the year. They see an opportunity or dream of an outcome and they immediately convert it into a goal. Also, when they achieve a goal, they reward themselves and then set a new one.

  • Willingness to take moderate, well-calculated risks.

    Most challenging goals require you to go outside your comfort zone and to take some risks. The willingness to take moderate risks is what sets most achievement-oriented people apart. In contrast, overly Competitive people take reckless, unnecessary risks and Conventional people never take a risk.

  • Possessing a positive outlook of the past, present and future.

    This way of thinking exists in all achievement-oriented people. They learn from past mistakes (and never let those mistakes hold them back). They take time to enjoy the present – getting a great deal of satisfaction out of working on their current goals and jobs. And, they look forward to the future, knowing they can make it better.

  • Believing that individual effort counts.

    Achievement-oriented people have a positive outlook on the present and future because they believe that their individual effort can make a difference. This is another fundamental thinking pattern of achievement-oriented people. It is also known as Locus of Control. Achievement people belief the Locus of Control for their lives comes from within themselves – not from external forces such as fate or luck.

  • A commitment to making things better.

    Once people convince themselves that their effort counts, true achievement-oriented people commit themselves to making things better. They don’t ignore problems or potential problems. Achievement-oriented people are the ones who stop their car and move a piece of metal off the road. They are also the people who stop production when they see a faulty piece of equipment before it becomes a hazard. But beyond that, they are the ones who also stare at a normal situation and wonder, “how can I make that better?”

Becoming more achievement oriented requires not only a change in your behaviour, such as setting New Year’s Resolutions for yourself, but also a change in your attitudes or how you think about yourself and the environment around you. If you are having a difficult time deciding whether becoming more achievement oriented is worth it, consider these facts about Achievement Orientation:

  • It is the easiest of the twelve Human Synergistics Circumplex styles to learn.

    Achievement thinking is the easiest to learn and adopt. It is the easiest style to teach to other people. It is also easy to teach children to be achievement oriented. It is sad to know that most successful parents tend to teach Perfectionism rather than Achievement.

  • It is the one style that is most closely correlated to personal success and effectiveness.

    The LSI 360 not only asks respondents to describe someone else’s thinking styles (including Achievement), but also asks them to rate the person’s effectiveness. When we isolate the highest scores on effectiveness and create a composite profile, the highest style is Achievement.

  • Achievement oriented people seldom achieved high marks in high school.

    A few years back, we gave the LSI (student edition) to a group of high school students. The student with the highest score in Achievement surprised the teacher because she was an average student (based on her marks). The teacher went on to describe a young lady who would rather work at two part-time jobs than work hard at moving up her project marks from a “B” to an “A”. Achievement is all about focusing on what is important for the individual to achieve their goals.

  • Achievement oriented people enjoy challenging tasks.

    Achievement-oriented people typically enjoy themselves – they enjoy their jobs, and they enjoy doing other tasks. However, they are most happy when they are working on challenging tasks – especially if they set the challenge themselves.

  • They strive for and usually attain high-quality results.

    This might seem like a given – after all, they do set attainable goals for themselves. So, it should not come as a surprise that they usually attain those goals. The difference is that achievement-oriented people never settle. Once they achieve a goal, they immediately set another stretch goal for themselves. One workshop facilitator I know set a new stretch goal for himself at the start of each of his first 20 workshops. That goal was to incorporate something into the workshop that would make it better than the previous one.

If you really want to change your life and your future – and stick to those New Year’s Resolutions, here are some simple strategies to becoming more achievement oriented:

  • Strive for excellence in everything (Kaizen)

    Kaizen means constant improvement. Sometimes improvement comes in big leaps; but usually, improvement happens a little bit at a time. The key is to be committed to any type of improvement?

  • Look for where your effort can make a measurable difference

    This is an important strategy to prove to the unbelievers that their effort makes a difference. Look for those opportunities. Often it requires looking at your environment differently.

  • Make it a point to take calculated, moderate risks

    Achievement-oriented people are very good at doing risk analyses – conducting probabilities of success or failure and weighing the costs and benefits of each outcome.

  • Focus on what is important to you

    Too often, people get too wrapped up in fulfilling other people’s agendas. While this an important part of being a good team player, it becomes easy to forget about your own dreams if you spend all of your time on someone else’s. The prophet Hillel said: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”

  • Set SMART goals for yourself – write them down and keep them visible.

    The key to goal setting, is to write a SMART goals – which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and with a Time parameter. There has been a lot of research that shows having your goals visible (either in a picture or writing) drastically increases the probability of achievement.

It is fun to set New Year’s Resolutions for ourselves. However, it is much more rewarding to set become achievement oriented and take control of our lives and our futures.

Looking for more? 

Get started on achieving your goals by using this helpful goal setting guide and printable. Print it out and fill it in in order to make your 2022 your best year yet! Make sure to keep it handy, as a visual cue to keep you on track. 

About the Author

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Allan Stewart

Allan Stewart has been the president of Human Synergistics Canada since 1996. His unique background combines a successful general management career with extensive workshop training experience and a varied academic career. Allan has conducted training programs for organizations in retail, finance, mining, manufacturing, energy, athletics, education, health care and various sectors of the government. He was a senior executive with Sears Canada Inc. and has been a professor at McMaster University and Sheridan College. He received his B.Com. from Queen’s University and his M.B.A. from Wilfrid Laurier University. Allan has over 30 years experience in developing and conducting training workshops. His past clients have included some of the largest and most successful organizations in Canada. He has trained executives, first-line supervisors, trainers, sales-people and line workers. He has been an instructor with the Executive Development Programs at McMaster, York Universities and the Ontario Police College. He has been a key-note speaker on television and at a number of professional conferences. He is considered a leading expert on organizational culture and development. Allan’s dynamic training style and practical approach make him a popular workshop facilitator who has helped people throughout Canada and internationally. He has written articles and workbooks on a variety of subjects, including culture, leadership, stress management, change leadership, entrepreneurship and selling. As well, Allan Stewart is a skilled consultant, interacting with individuals, teams and companies.  As a volunteer, Allan has conducted leadership skills workshops for youth in Canada's native communities and in third world countries. He has lead several charitable organizations, coached minor sports for over 20 years, counseled elite athletes, and developed and lead young entrepreneurs' programs.