Achieving success in the New Year and beyond

By Laurence Zalmanowitz,

Laurence Zalmanowitz is a registered psychologist practicing in Edmonton AB.

Laurence Zalmanowitz is a registered psychologist practicing in Edmonton AB.

As each New Year begins, we often take time to reflect on the past year while looking forward to the year to come. In doing so we start to plan for a better life and start making resolutions. Creating these resolutions is one thing but carrying them out is often the more difficult task. The question is how can we better our chances of being successful in carrying out these resolutions? Furthermore, how can we keep this success and momentum moving forward? With these questions in mind here are some tips that may help in obtaining and sustaining success in the New Year and beyond.

Create your own definition and measures of success. This will vary from person to person so it’s important that you create your own specific definition. For example for an elite athlete is may mean executing their game plan and winning the title. For a business person it could be getting a big new file. It can also mean building better relationships and spending more quality time with loved ones. Your definition of success will depend on who you are and what you are attempting to accomplish. It can help personalize the goal and once it’s defined you have a more concrete idea as to what you are striving for.

Take time to reflect. The high holidays are a time for reflection and for those that achieve and sustain success it’s something done year round. Those that value learning and self-improvement relative to themselves tend to be more successful and experience lower levels of stress compared to those who only use external comparisons. Those that take the more self-referent approach focus on improving on their own personal best. They also view failing or coming up short as part of the learning process and are more likely to persevere when faced with adversity.   

Recognize what you can and cannot control. Success is rarely is sprint, so it’s important to know where to expend your energy. Focus on what is within your control and you use your energy in areas you directly influence. Try identifying and choosing 2-3 factors you control that are most important and make them your primary focus.

Focus on the process not just the outcome.  It’s very easy and temping to focus on the end result, after all this is usually the big reward. However, what’s more important is the process since this is what helps you get there. Focusing on the process allows you to focus in on what you have to do to. It also helps to keep you on track.

Understand yourself and your motivation. Think, why are you doing what you do? Motivation can be external or internal. For example playing to win a trophy (external) vs. playing for enjoyment (internal). Having multiple sources of motivation is ideal. When one is not present you can draw from another. In addition intrinsic motivation is often stronger since it comes from within and can have deeper meaning.

Find balance in your life. High levels of achievement and success often take high amounts of energy and time. However, spending all of your time and energy to succeed at one thing can also lead to burnout. It’s important to recognize other domains of life and to give yourself time in these other endeavors. Finding this balance may be trial and error and will vary from person to person, but finding that balance is one of the keys to being able to be consistently successful.

So this New Year, challenge yourself. Create a goal for yourself and strive for success in an area of importance to you, be it your your personal relationships, work, or play. Shana Tova!

Laurence (Laurie) Zalmanowitz is a registered psychologist practicing in Edmonton. He specializes in counselling psychology and sport and performance psychology and can be reached at (780) 428-9223 or by email at

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