How to Start the Year a Winner

A new year is exciting, isn’t it?

That shiny space of days to come beckons us to answer the call to grow and succeed. We all have the exact number of minutes in a day, and yet some people seem to get so much more done than others. The anticipation of what’s to come can make all the difference in keeping you motivated.

4 Ways to Start 2022 like a Winner

Stop Spending More Hours in the Office!

Ask most people how they can get more done at work and they’ll likely say spend more time in the office. But that idea is categorically untrue.

A study by Stanford University found that employee output falls sharply after 50 hours at work in a week and falls off a cliff after 55 hours. It also found that someone who spends 70 hours at work in a week produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours.

Not only that, a study by the World Health Organization found that working a 55-hour workweek increased the risk of stroke by 35% and the risk of dying from heart disease by 17%. Evidence suggests that a major reason for the great resignation of 2021 is that people are fed up with ever-expanding work hours.

What is the ideal number of hours in a workweek from a productivity perspective? A study performed by expert Laura Vandercam found that the ideal workweek is 38.6 hours, just under the 40 hours we traditionally associate with a full-time workweek.

Face-time for face-time’s sake is counterproductive. It can be scary to be the one who leaves on time, but in the end, it’s better for your health and counterintuitively, will produce better work. It also gives your team and those around you permission to behave similarly.

Visualize it Done

Visualization is a tremendous tool. Here’s one way to do it:

Imagine yourself at a social event at the end of the year talking with a close friend or mentor about everything you accomplished. See yourself beaming with pride about getting to the next level and achieving everything you set out to do. Really experience that success.

Why is this exercise so powerful? There are several reasons.

  • The brain is terrible at differentiating between what is strongly imagined and true experiences that actually happened. Intense visualization has been proven to create neural pathways that mimic memory. These pathways, when strengthened over time, become dominant thoughts guiding you toward your goals.
  • It enables you to see yourself speaking in the past tense. If you can see yourself using words signaling that you’ve already accomplished your goals, you’re more likely to believe that reaching them is possible.
  • Seeing yourself accomplishing your goals requires clarity. A huge reason people fail to accomplish their goals is that their goals are vague. “Learning data privacy” is a much less strong goal than “Achieving my Certified Information Privacy Professional certification.” How do you know when you’ve “learned” data privacy? It’s much more powerful to have a concrete objective that certifies whether you’ve reached your goal. This visualization exercise requires you to use specific language about what you accomplished which in-and-of-itself can make you more likely to achieve your goal.

Commit to Re-Prioritizing

One of the reasons compliance officers spend so much time in the office is because we set ambitious goals for the year, commit those goals to paper with our boss or the Board, and then something blows up.

Perhaps it’s a massive investigation or a regulator comes knocking. Maybe someone on your team quits or new software takes twice the time you expected to successfully implement.

Commit now to publicly re-prioritizing if something unexpectedly takes you off-track. Don’t let scope creep ruin your year. If you try to do too much, nothing will be done well.

Determine now that if something comes up, you’ll re-prioritize and let others know what to expect.

Write Down those Goals

You’ve probably heard that goals are much more powerful if they’re written down. Science backs this up. A recent study confirmed yet again that written goals are more powerful than unwritten ones. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, found that people are 42% more likely to reach their goals if they are written down.

In his classic book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill continually stresses the importance of writing down goals and revisiting them. In fact, he recommends reading them morning and night to keep them in the front of your consciousness. Daily review is great, but even taking time quarterly to revisit your written goals will help you to see your progress and keep you on track.

An African proverb reminds us that “tomorrow belongs to the people who plan today.” Take these four strategies and you’ll find it easy to start the year as a winner and finish it with panache. You’ll find that, as 2023 approaches in 12 short months, your career has grown in leaps and bounds.

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Kristy Grant-Hart

Kristy Grant-Hart is the founder and CEO of Spark Compliance.
She's a renowned expert at transforming compliance departments into in-demand business assets.