Human societies, across the globe, have crafted calendars as beacons of certainty in the midst of life’s uncertainties. Each calendar, whether Julian, Hindu, Hijri/Islamic, Chinese, Buddhist, Japanese, or Hebrew, is a cultural and religious tapestry woven through time. As we stand at the threshold of a new year, people everywhere embark on the ritual of setting new behavioural standards, driven by the collective desire for personal growth and transformation.
The process of envisioning and setting ambitious goals for the upcoming year is a shared human experience. Whether it’s shedding old habits, pursuing fitness goals, or striving for professional milestones, the act of making New Year resolutions transcends borders. However, the journey from resolution to reality is a challenging one, marked by obstacles and setbacks. What distinguishes those who succeed from those who falter lies in the art of self-leadership—an intricate dance of influencing and directing one’s thoughts and actions to attain goals and carve out a satisfying life.
Surprisingly, the data reveals a common thread of struggle. According to a Forbes Health/One Poll survey, the average resolution lasts a mere 3.74 months. A paltry 8% of individuals manage to stick to their resolutions for one month, with 22% sustaining them for two months. These statistics underscore the difficulty of turning aspirations into sustained actions. The linchpin here is self-leadership, a dynamic force that requires strategic skills, disciplined commitments, self-regulation, accountability, and periodic reevaluations of personal preferences.
Delving deeper into the realm of self-leadership, one realises the pivotal role played by internal beliefs, thoughts, and perceptions. Your ability to guide yourself becomes the compass that charts the course towards achieving and sustaining new year resolutions. Consider yourself an institution, one that needs organisational clarity with well-defined visions and SMART goals. Similar to corporate entities, achieving personal goals is fraught with challenges and setbacks. Acknowledging this reality at the outset of the year sets the stage for a pragmatic and resilient approach.
The cornerstone of effective self-leadership is decision-making. Every resolution, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, demands informed, rational decisions. Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, character, and competence is paramount. This self-awareness forms the bedrock upon which successful resolutions are built. In a world where external factors like economic fluctuations are beyond our control, the locus of power shifts to personal preferences, actions, inactions, and adaptive strategies. This shift in perspective is particularly relevant given the current socio-economic landscape, such as the one faced by individuals in Nigeria today.
Navigating the journey of self-leadership necessitates emotional control and adept responses to external events. Every leadership environment requires regulation, and self-leadership is no exception. Clarity in the face of uncertainty, stress, anxiety, and disappointments becomes the North Star guiding you through turbulent times. This self-clarity not only prevents emotional derailment but also empowers you to creatively generate fresh ideas and innovative solutions when faced with challenges.
While external support is undoubtedly valuable, the true force propelling you forward is self-generated energy. The ability to motivate, energise, and replenish oneself is a skill indispensable for resilience, strength, courage, and sustained commitment to goals. In those inevitable moments when self-motivation wanes, the power of envisioning the future consequences of failure becomes a potent motivator. Recognising that life offers alternatives, even in the absence of required resources, reinforces the idea that there’s always a way to navigate towards the realisation of your goals.
Setting goals is not a standalone activity; it requires a structured framework. A timeline, key performance indicators (KPIs), and a culture of self-accountability form the scaffolding for success. Leadership without accountability is akin to an invitation to complacency. Establishing consistency, adjusting mindset, setting timelines, defining KPIs, disciplined task execution, progress tracking, self-rewards, and seeking honest feedback—all are integral components of effective self-accountability.
Above all, as you embark on the journey of self-leadership in the new year, recall the timeless wisdom of Lao Tzu: mastering oneself is the true source of power. Leading oneself is not merely about making resolutions but about sustaining actions toward their achievement. By ruling your mind, as suggested by Horace, you gain mastery over your life and, by extension, society. Effective self-leadership not only contributes to personal success but also serves as a catalyst for national productivity. Here’s to leading yourself through this new year with purpose, determination, and a deep understanding of the power within.
Ekpa, Stanley Ekpa, a lawyer and leadership consultant, wrote via [email protected]