This Simple Strategy Can Stop You From Sabotaging Your Professional Growth


Are you sabotaging your own development goals? If you're not keeping those goals present and visible on a daily, chances are good that you are.  This is why we utilize a simple but powerful strategy with all of our clients called Declarations.

Understanding The Power of Declarations

Declarations are simple statements of commitment or promise that act as powerful tools to help guide, shape, and sustain your development goals.  You can think about the relationship between declarations and goals like this:

A declaration is a statement of commitment and intention to work toward and achieve a goal or development target.

Declarations are powerful because they add a layer of action, connection, and commitment toward achieving a goal.  For example, if you goal is to run the Boston Marathon, your Declaration might be something like "endurance."  When the temptation to ditch your workout arises, thinking of running 26.2 miles might not be fact, it might demotivate you! But thinking of your Declaration of "endurance," you are connecting yourself to the commitment you've made to run, as well as layers of emotional meaning that "endurance" has for you.

It is easy to see why many of our program participants tell us that the process of making declarations in and of itself is an impactful experience that allows them to positively adjust their perspective and find clarity of purpose.

How To Make Declarations Effective

Unfortunately, our psychology is working against us when it comes to maintaining Declarations. Studies have shown that the very act of saying Declarations out loud satisfies our self-identity enough to reduce achievement motivation. A message is sent to our brain that we have already accomplished what we stated we’d accomplish, or we have already taken a huge step to accomplishing them.

This means we can’t rely on our mind to keep our Declarations present and close – we need to find other ways, external ways, to maintain them and preserve their power.

Here are some effective ways we’ve found (and heard from our participants) that work to make sure your Declarations are more than just hot air:

  • Share Them With Your Team or Resource Executive: One of the core tactics we use in our coaching and team programs is to have individuals share their Declarations with their team members or Resource Executive. Stating a Declaration in the presence of other people can be a very helpful accountability measure…
  • …But Only When You Know They Will Hold You To Them: That sense of accomplishment you get just from making a Declaration is compounded by the positive reaction you receive from others when you share it with them. So we recommend only sharing your Declaration with people who you know will hold you to it and provide support to keep you on track.
  • Utilize Sticky Notes: Write Declarations out on sticky notes and keep them someplace you will see them daily, like a mirror, the car dashboard, or your computer monitor.
  • Create Visual Clues: If you don’t want to have your Declaration on public display, scratch the sticky note and find an image that reminds you of your Declaration. Disguising it as a piece of art can keep it present without making it everyone’s business.
  • Take Advantage of Technology: Set reminders, calendar notifications, or alerts on your computer and Smartphone to periodically ping you and remind you of your Declaration.

So today, as you move through your work tasks and struggle to keep your larger goals in sight, ask yourself: “Am I keeping my Declarations close enough for them to help my development goals?”

Image by JaneandD courtesy of Flickr