Friday, December 30, 2011
RACE to the New Year: Resolutions and Evaluations
I've noticed New Year's resolutions get scoffed at a lot more often than they get created. In fact, when talking of my personal resolutions to a friend, I was told, "Why wait until one day in the entire year to decide to make yourself better? Shouldn't you be constantly be making resolutions to accomplish?"
I realize he made a valid point. It was this conversation that sparked my realization that we view New Year's resolutions all wrong. They aren't a list of the typical, yet hardly-ever-accomplished goals we make for ourselves once and year only to abandon two weeks later. Instead, they are a part of an on-going process that in PR, we like to call the RACE model, and January 1st is all about evaluation.
The RACE model is known worldwide in terms of the PR industry, however I think it applies perfectly to the concept of New Year's resolutions. The four-step model includes the phases of Research, Action, Communication and Evaluation.
Before we make any resolutions, we need to know our problem areas or areas of improvement. It takes time, thought and effort to put together a list and some basic research is always done prior to declaring resolutions. There are only so many days in a year, and its important to set reasonable and achievable goals for yourself. It's important to note, these goals can be set any time of the year, as self-improvement should always be an on-going process.
As an example, one of my goals this year is to take the time to create an online portfolio for myself to showcase my work to potential employers.
Like any good campaign, it's always best to start with a plan of action. What resources will you need to accomplish this goal? What steps will you need to take and when do you need to take them? When you have a plan in place, it's much easier to stay on course. This isn't to say you won't deviate from the plan at times, but its there to always steer you back in the right direction.
Continuing with my previous example, I know in order to accomplish this goal I will need to create a detailed timeline for myself, compile my best work that I want to highlight and consult someone with web design knowledge to assist me in the creation of my website.
Typically in a PR campaign, this is where you communicate your message(s) to target channels and publics. With resolutions, it's a bit different. Sometimes resolutions can seem unreachable or you've run out of ideas to inspire yourself and find motivation. The communication stage should be used to communicate your goals to peers, mentors, friends and family in order to gain additional support and sources of motivation. These people may be able to provide you with solutions to any roadblocks you may have encountered during your plan of action. Always communicate your goals and take advantage of the advice others may have to offer.
For my personal resolution of building an online portfolio, I may reach out on Twitter for example to outsource ideas for what materials I should include and what site builder is best to use. There are many people who have already accomplished this goal who may be able to offer me their advice.
At the end of every PR campaign, the most important part is always evaluating whether or not you were successful in achieving your goals and objectives. With resolutions, it is no different. As I stated earlier, you can create goals for yourself during any point of the year, however it's always good to have a slated time for reflection and evaluation and what better time than the start of a new year? Use this time to ask yourself, "did I accomplish any of my personal goals this year? What worked and what didn't? What should I continue to improve for this upcoming year?" Don't use New Year's as the one and only time to make goals for yourself. Instead, use it as a time to evaluate everything you have accomplished in the past year and determine where to go from there.
This past year, for example, I accomplished my goal of studying abroad during the summer. Through careful research, a solid plan of action and my willingness to communicate any questions or help I needed in the process, I was able to spend five weeks this summer in Paris, learning French at the Sorbonne.
So regardless of what you want to accomplish, or when you set your goals, always remember New Year's is about self-evaluation and a time of reflection, not a two-week membership to the gym.
What are your resolutions this year? Did you accomplish any of your goals from last year? Let us know!