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Happy New Year and Welcome to 2020

January 3, 2020
by Dr. James Yacyshyn


Did you set any goals or New Year resolutions? Did you feel that by the time 2020 arrived you would have achieved or accomplished certain things? Have you reflected on why you have or haven’t succeeded?

When the New Year rolls around, I always find it’s a time I catch myself reflecting on the year that was. I smile with the good memories, grimace at the wrongs, and start wondering about what’s coming. I like change; I embrace it. I like the adventure of what comes next. Rarely am I satisfied with the status quo. I like to push myself to try something new – even if things don’t work out the way I think. When I accept that things don’t always work out, I find I am not hindered by the fear of failure. I also know that I will learn from these experiences, good or bad. That being said, I am by no means a risk taker. I consider my actions carefully and weigh risk, benefits, and return on investment of my time, money, energy. I am not somebody who just does. I like to think I’m fairly calculated in my actions, especially any New Year resolutions.

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All that being said, New Year resolutions usually get a bad wrap with regards to the abysmal success rate. The art of change is not setting unattainable or unrealistic goals, it is about factoring the elements of success that come with proper goal setting. Fortunately, this is an area that garners a lot of study in the fields of personal development and management literature. The evidence in this field tells us that goal setting needs to involve an action plan, designed to motivate and guide the individual or group to their ultimate end goal. This can be guided through rules or goal setting criteria, like the SMART system (originally delineated by Raia in 1965), which are defined by Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time framed action plans. These guides help frame goals in a way that is defined, measurable, and accountable.

Goal setting research and coaching has also looked at better outcomes associated with goals that are more specific and ambitious, versus easy or general goals (Edwin A. Locke et al.) As well, collective behaviour and social psychology can influence our performance and goal attainment. When we are around other individuals with similar values, ideology, and goals, the group behaviour can mold and drive our outcomes.

Without getting into a conversation about individual ability and its impact on goals, motivational theory is fascinating when looking at why some people perform better than others. If you are interested in learning more about goal setting theory, I recommend the following paper by Anthony M. Grant., especially if one of your New Years resolutions is to read more.

References
An integrated model of goal-focused coaching: An evidence-based framework for teaching and practice International Coaching Psychology Review●Vol. 7 No. 2 September 2012


About the Author

Dr. James Yacyshyn obtained his Bachelor of Science degree, with honours, from the University of Alberta. He then obtained his Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree, with Distinction, from the University of Alberta. Upon graduation, he went on to pursue and complete a Masters in Applied Science Engineering, from the University of Toronto. Dr. Yacyshyn joined the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, as an Assistant Clinical Professor. He was appointed Director of Continuing Dental Education, and had cross appointments to the Alberta Research Council and Faculty of Medicine.