A Proven New Year's Resolution Strategy for Federal Workers

Are you determined to make 2021 the year that you follow through on New Year’s resolutions? If so, an observation of one of the greatest golfers of all time — Jack Nicklaus — may help. Nicklaus could tell the difference between an amateur and a pro golfer by the ball each used when the shot required crossing a body of water. Amateurs replace their balls with older ones. Why? Because they envisioned the ball going straight into the water, and they didn’t want to lose a good ball.

Did amateurs’ balls make it over the water? No. The results are in the expectations. They landed exactly where the visualizations placed them — in the water, not so with the pro.

Nicklaus said that he never hit a shot without sharply focusing on it in his mind’s eye. He would visualize the ball where he wanted it to finish, nice and white, sitting up high on the bright green grass. Then he would see the ball going there, its path, trajectory, shape, and its behavior on landing. As the scene fades away in his mind, he sees himself making the kind of swing that would transform his vision to reality.

He consciously and intentionally visualized his success. He saw it happening before hitting the ball. If this strategy worked for Jack Nicklaus, is visualization all we need to succeed? No, but it is the first of four critical steps:

Step #1 – Choose a Goal

Be clear and specific. For example, “I want to expand my government career” is too broad. Your brain doesn’t know what to do with it. “I want to obtain a Leadership Certificate so that I can qualify for a more advanced position,” is crystal clear. Your brain knows exactly what you must do: choose a certificate program, submit the application, sign up for class, schedule time to study.

It is crucial that you also define your “why,” your purpose — to qualify for a more advanced position. Now dig deeper. Why is that advanced position important to you? That answer will sustain you when the inevitable bump in the road impedes your success.

Step #2 – Visualize Your Success

Activate Jack Nicklaus’ strategy for your goals. Bring it into sharp focus and envision yourself improving your ability to resolve complex problems, communicating more effectively, and thinking more strategically. In your mind’s eye, picture the positive changes in your workplace due to your newly-acquired knowledge. This visualization will light up the motivation centers of your brain and keep you excited about accomplishing your goal.

Step #3 – Identify Challenges

Take a moment to think about obstacles that might stand in your way. This secret of effective goal strategy is called mental contrasting. It is critical because fears can sabotage dreams. Although fear may be related to the past or our perceptions of the future, the obstacles we imagine may never emerge but, our brains do not know that. By facing our worries, we can make a plan to work around each “imagined” hardship. If we plan a course of action, our brains can relax. Having a Plan B allows us to focus our mental energy on what we want instead of what we want to avoid.

Step #4 – Create and Execute an Action Plan

Now for the fun part. Outline baby steps with timelines and check them off as you go. Sooner than you think, those baby steps will become giant steps, and you will reach your destination.

Follow this process, and 2021 may be the first of many years that you achieve your goals!

Note: Content related to Jack Nicklaus’ visualization technique was summarized from his book, Golf My Way.

Written by:
Linda Cassell
Human Capital Advisory Services



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