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New year survival guide: Setting goals and busting stress

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
04 January 2019 3 minute readShare

Survive the new year and get your resolutions firmly on track with these tips for reducing stress, working more efficiently and forging better relationships.

The start of a new year is filled with hope and a time of setting goals. Yet as Marcela Slepica, clinical director at AccessEAP, points out, “it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of setting a new goal, without thinking about the big picture”.

“While having a common goal is great for team morale and motivating employees, the goals you set need to be realistic and in line with your organisation’s vision and values,” she said.


Ms Slepica is urging all business leaders to use the SMART method of goal-setting for 2019, in order to better define them and make them easier to achieve and benchmark against.

According to Ms Slepica, SMART stands for:


  • Specific: Goals need to be as specific, e.g. rather than ‘we want more business or to increase our revenue’, a specific goal may be ‘we want to grow revenue by 10 per cent this year’, or ‘we want three new customers per month.’
  • Measurable: Keep track of numbers, e.g. numbers of cold calls, number of proposals, number of enquiries. Have a visual of numbers on a board so everyone can see it and see how it’s growing.
  • Achievable: Is your goal realistic? For example, is it realistic to achieve three new customers? What is involved in achieving the goal? Do you have the resources?
  • Relevant: Your goal needs to tie into the direction of your organisation, e.g. is it relevant to source new customers if the market is saturated? An alternative could be growing existing customers.
  • Timely: Ensure that you set timeframes around your goals, e.g. do you want to have reached this goal by the start of the new financial year? Continually discuss the time frames and keep focus by celebrating milestones.

Healthy leaders lead healthy businesses

As a leader, employers should really look at their own health, mental clarity and wellbeing, given that this can directly translate to the health of their business and the teams who follow them.

Clinical psychologist and CEO of Smiling Mind, Dr Addie Wootten, told My Business that there are a few easy yet effective things business leaders, and their staff, can do to keep themselves zoned, focused and attentive to the bigger picture.

1. Dealing with daily distractions

“Distractions are inevitable but it’s how we manage our day that can make all the difference. It takes almost one minute for our mind to return to work, after a phone notification or alert distracts us or a colleague wants to chat,” she said.

“This can build up to many wasted minutes during the day.”



Dr Wootten suggests turning off the mobile and closing the door to boost productivity, particularly when it comes to more difficult or complex tasks that require concentration.

“But it also requires an ‘attitude of focus’ and awareness of your tendency to become distracted, and then managing where your mind is.

2. Learning to be present

“Have you ever lost track in a conversation or been introduced to someone and immediately forgotten their name?,” asked Dr Wootten.

“Harvard tells us that we spend about 47 per cent of our waking (and working) hours thinking about something other than what we are doing.”

According to Dr Wootten, “learning to be present is the foundation of mindfulness”, which involves that ability to check in with yourself and pay attention to what you are thinking about in the here and now.

“If it has nothing to do with what you’re doing, bring your attention back to the present. This will improve meetings with clients and customers, and your ability to absorb information,” she said.

3. Handling emotions and the impact on others

Emotional awareness is a key factor of leadership and allows people to assess a situation without knee-jerk emotional reactions or judgements.

Dr Wootten suggests that meditation is a great tool for boosting this important skill.

“It can help you to identify patterns in your experiences (e.g. what triggers you) and have a profound impact on the way you engage with your employees and family, and friends,” she said.

4. Resting your weary head

Most of us complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day to achieve everything we want or meet all of the demands placed on us – and sleep can be one of the things we sacrifice in a bid to create more time.

Not wise, according to Dr Wootten, as a sleep deficit will ultimately cost more time than it saves.

“Sleep has the biggest impact on cognitive performance and productivity in business,” she said.

“You should turn off your devices at least 30 minutes before bed.”

She suggested using dedicated sleep apps as part of a healthy night-time routine to help achieve at least seven hours of quality sleep.

New year survival guide: Setting goals and busting stress
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at [email protected]

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