So it's not even February, and if you are like most, you have already bailed on your New Year's Resolution. You had the best of intentions, but by about the second week of January (give or take), "real life" began to take over, and your resolution was its first casualty. By taking a few steps, you can get back on track to improving your life, despite your many failed attempts before.
Many people fail because they put all the emphasis on what they hope to achieve (e.g., losing 10 pounds, increasing sales, becoming more connected with a spouse), and they don't define what exactly needs to happen in order to achieve it. It's great to vow to improve your relationship with your spouse, but without a specific plan, you will quickly fall back into old habits. Resolving to improve your sales by 10% in 2016 is admirable, but deciding to just "work harder" to achieve this goal is not likely to get you there. In fact, it is not even likely to get you close. Not having a plan in place to deal with all the things that might get in the way of you completing your resolution is also where many people fall short. These three steps will help you get your resolution back on track and protect you from being one the majority who fails to follow-through.
1. SET UP THE PROCESS
Set up the process toward achieving your resolution by asking yourself, "What is the most important thing I can do each day or week to help me fulfill my resolution?" Then ask yourself the question again about fulfilling that step. The more you can break this down into simple actions, the better.
Jim is a financial advisor I work with who came to me after many failed attempts at stepping up his game. He wanted to improve his sales by 10% by the end of 2015. "I know what I need to do," he said, "but I just can't follow through." Here are the answers to Jim's questions that helped him set up his process:
- What is the most important thing I can do that can help me improve my sales by 10%? Ask at least 1 time per day for an introduction.
- What is one thing I can do that can help me ask for an introduction at least 1 time per day? Write a script for the "ask," and tape it to my desk as a reminder.
Once Jim had broken down his goal into a simple daily process (i.e., asking for an introduction and using a pre-written script), he was able to assess on a daily basis whether he was on track. Making adjustments to get back on track became much more manageable once this process was determined.
2. WIN THE FIGHT-THRUS
A fight-thru occurs when you are faced with the decision of whether to take the easier route and revert back to your old normal, or to push through and take on the challenge. In my new book, "Organize Tomorrow Today," my coauthor Tom Bartow and I discuss winning fight-thrus as an important step in forming new habits. The first step to winning the fight-thru is to recognize that you are in one. Recognizing that you are entering a fight-thru allows you to know that you have entered a battle that can either be won or lost, rather than letting it blindly pass you by.
As you push ahead and toy with the idea of giving up, ask yourself three questions:
1. How will I feel if I win this fight-thru?
2. How will I feel if I lose this fight-thru?
3. What will my life be like in five years if I am able to consistently win my fight-thrus?
Bring as much emotion into the equation as possible. Remember, emotion promotes action. Allow yourself to feel the emotions associated with winning or losing .
3. EXPECT THE OBSTACLES
Think about all the obstacle that could potentially get in the way of the process you have set up. Having a plan in place to deal with obstacles will put you in a much better position to beat them. Even better, have a plan in place to prevent obstacle from occurring in the first place. Jim, the financial advisor, knew that he would often miss the opportunity to make his daily client calls because "urgent matters" would come up that would prevent him from spending the necessary time on the phone. He started to expect and prevent this by blocking 40 minutes of his calendar first thing each day for client calls, and instructing his assistant to hold all other matters until after this time. He also vowed to not check email during that time. To protect against potential obstacles, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What are three things that might get in the way of me completing my process each day/week?
2. What is one thing I can do to prevent each obstacle?
Many people bail on their resolutions because they fail once or twice and then give up. Failure is part of the process. If your resolution was easy enough that you never felt like giving up, then it probably wouldn't have made much impact on your life anyway. Get your resolution back on track by taking these steps, and expect it to be a struggle. Win the struggle one fight-thru at a time.