As we publish this post we know we haven’t yet eaten the turkey or exchanged our presents but we know we as a team and our clients and customers are evaluating the year passed and thinking about our future goals as the coming year advances with speed!  In the blog below Paul Aisthorpe from the Square Peg team gets us thinking about New Year #goals.

“We hope that 2017 is going to be the year you want it to be. Perhaps the most synonymous thing with a new year is the resolution; those little plans to eat less, exercise more and quit one vice or another. According to research from the University of Scranton in the Journal of Clinical psychology 75% of resolutions make it past week 1 and 46% past 6 months. Are you surprised by these figures and do they ring true for you?

The turning of the calendar does give us that opportunity to wipe the slate clean and to start afresh with personal and business challenges for the New Year. As the figures show from the research at the University of Scranton there is a certain degree of success for many people who set goals in the shape of resolutions. In fact we can probably all think of someone who has lost significant weight, quit smoking or picked up a new hobby all because of a new year’s resolution.

Formulating Resolutions

The thing with resolutions is that quite often they describe something you want to stop, an action for example such as eating, drinking, smoking, or something you want to do more of like socialising, exercising or networking. From a work or career perspective resolutions may, for example, want a promotion, to start earning more money or to stop being overlooked for advancement opportunities. We know that the problem with this however is that the way they are stated, resolutions are often focused on the means rather than the end.

In his book, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ Stephen Covey talks about beginning with the end in mind. This is a great place to start when you are thinking about what you want to achieve through a new year’s resolution and keeping on track. Let’s use the example of earning more money as your new year’s resolution.

Using the framework that Covey gives us let’s look at beginning with the end in mind. On the 31st December 2016 you would like to be earning more money. How much more money exactly? £100 on your salary? £5000 on your current salary? £10,000 on your current income? What do you think is achievable?

Thinking about earning more money what are the different ways this would become achievable? Would you get this through promotion or do you have to look elsewhere? Perhaps another company or another sector completely? Can you do some overtime? We would ask you to think about the action steps you have to take to make this resolution become reality. If in a year you want to earn £5000 more per annum where do you need to be in six months? Networking in your company to find promotion opportunities and growing your personal brand or perhaps retraining for that different career. Can this become a six month goal? “By June 2017 I want to have a qualification that will allow me to get the promotion.”

You can then break resolutions down further to 3 months, 1 month, 1 week and even 1 day. Stephen Covey also points out, effective people are proactive and goals become the focal point of your actions.


We are pretty sure that you may have seen SMART before but as a recap SMART stands for:

S – pecific

M – easurable

A – chievable

R – elevant

T- ime focussed


Specific – be as specific as possible with your goal. Begin with the end in mind and picture exactly how you want your goal to look and feel like once you’ve achieved it. Like with the example above, rather than just wanting more money quantify exactly how much more money you want.

Measurable – how will you measure your success? In the example above it can be measured on a salary benchmark, you either earn £5000 per annum more or you don’t.

Achievable – Is your goal achievable? If not what can you do to make it more achievable? Break it down into smaller goals perhaps.

Relevant – What role does the goal play on your wider life & what impact will it have on you? The goal should contribute a relevant benefit to help keep you motivated to achieve it. By creating an end in your goal, and stating its relevance it helps you to take ownership.

Time Focused – finally set deadlines with your goal. When will it be achievable by? The end of the year is good because it then allows you to start considering next year’s goals again.

We hope that this blog has been useful in helping you to consider those goals and put some more structure into your resolutions for the coming year.”

In the meantime all the best for the coming year. We’d love to hear from you to discuss your goals, your career aspirations and to have a chat about how we can help you in 2017.

Paul Aisthorpe

We are a resilient breed.

Everyday we see clients and candidates who just don’t understand how resourceful we are as people. In business the majority of us have focus, goals, aims and ambitions. Every now and again though life happens. These aims fall to the bottom of our list of priorities as we focus on other challenges that take place. It feels like we are fighting the battle every day.

We once worked with a client who had been going through their own set of challenges. A hugely successful business owner had been stopped in his tracks by life events. Family problems and becoming over run with issues in the business had compounded to bring a unique set of challenging circumstances.

Our discussions centred on the business challenges and we’d meet regularly to discuss goals. When it became apparent he was becoming over run with other concerns it was time to get down to basics. It became apparent that his personal horizons were changing on a daily basis and so it became hard to do anything with the longer term in mind. Instead we worked on setting some short term goals; goals designed to get him from one month to the next, one day to the next.

Two days before an upcoming meeting we received a phone call. “I’m really sorry but I think we should postpone, I don’t think I’ve done anything that we talked about last time and things have been very difficult this last month.”

“If you want to rearrange that’s fine but it might help just to have a catch up anyway. Forget the goals for now, let’s just meet for a coffee and go through what’s been happening in the business.”

So we met up and started talking. From the look on our client’s face I could immediately tell he was actually relieved to be away from everything else and having a chance to unload. It’s always our job to provide non-judgemental listening with and empathetic approach.

As we came towards the end of the conversation we discussed progress. “Do you realise that during the last month, without realising, you’ve hit all those goals that we discussed last month.” Holding the mirror up and repeating back what he’d told us. He was amazed.

We are a resilient breed. Programmed into many of us the ability to keep going when the chips are down. You’ll be amazed just what you can achieve even when you are struggling. It’s in our DNA, sometimes just some positive reinforcement is all we need to realise just how capable we are.

– Paul from Square Peg Associates Ltd


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