At this time of year, we tend to reflect on the last 12 months and look ahead with “a perfect brightness of hope in anticipation of achieving things that we have failed at in the past by setting new goals. Reality is however, for most of us, within a couple of weeks; most of our New Year goals lie dashed upon the rocks of our optimism as we fall back into old patterns of behaviour that produce similar results as before.
Organisations tend to be no different to us individuals. The NHS published its “Five-Year Forward View” in April 2016 with an associated document for General Practice, and as admirable as the statement of the future is, what is key to its achievement will not be the strategic narrative by itself, but the new actions that will be taken.
There is great merit in taking a longer-term horizon than the next 3 or 12 months. Stretching our horizon to 5 years and starting with the question: What do I want to be doing in 5 years? or what do I want my organisation to look like in 5-years?, frees us up from the stranglehold of the here and now, and moves us to a place that, at this point in time, may seem impossible to achieve. However, we should not suppress our dreams, and there are many examples of individuals and organisation that have achieved their dreams by taking such an approach – just look at the team GB Paralympians at the Rio Olympics.
By working back from the 5-year horizon and asking ourselves the questions: to achieve this 5-year vision, what will I need to do in 3 years?, 1 year?, 6 months? and 3 months?, this approach may then present a different set of actions to those that we would have decided upon if we simply planned the next 3 months and year from what we are accustomed to doing today.
By applying a set of skills that can help us to change our behaviour; such as those presented in “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” (McChesney, Covey and Huling), we can make solid progress to these new horizons. “Focusing on the Wildly Important”, “Acting on Lead [not lag] Measures”, “Keeping a Compelling Scoreboard” and “Creating a Cadence of Accountability,” provide discipline in changing behaviours that are having a significant impact on the ability of individuals and organisations to accomplish their goals and achieve their dreams.
This does not mean to say that our day-to-day will suddenly disappear overnight, because it won’t; however, if we never dare to dream, then what chance do we have of achieving those things that we truly aspire to?
So rather than taking the standard approach to your New Year resolutions; try a different approach: think further ahead, work back to today and put those disciplines in place that will truly help you change your behaviour that will improve your chances of achieving your goals. Is it time to live your dream in 2017 by acting differently today?