We’ve all seen the statistics on New Year’s Resolutions. About 45 percent of people make some kind of promise to themselves for how they will do things differently in the coming year. About eight percent of people consider themselves successful at keeping their resolutions beyond a few months. The good news is that close to half of resolution-setters feel that they achieved at least part of their goal or had some temporary success. Resolutions are about causing a behavior change, and in many ways, our job as a leader is to help ourselves and others make those same kinds of behavior changes. Let’s look at some ways that we can set ourselves up for success in the new year.
Define what success looks like in the coming year
Many people start with intentions around activities like working out more, eating healthier, making more sales calls, or hitting a bigger business growth number without first deciding on their overall definition of success for the coming year. Before making resolutions, ask yourself this; if at the end of this year, I think it might be my best year ever, and I exceeded my own expectations for what I achieved, what will have happened? In order to achieve our goals, we must be very specific about the things that we will have accomplished so that we can then figure out how to make them happen for ourselves and others.
Decide what habits we need to create in order to achieve these goals
Life is all about habits and patterns. In many ways they define our potential and our results. Without good ones, we can wish things were better, but they won’t be. If we want to read more or start our day differently but the first thing we do is grab our phone and check email then we have to create a new habit that causes different results. Willpower simply is not enough because we train our brain to do things over and over without us telling it to. Imagine if we had to consciously decide how to brush our teeth or think hard about how we tie our shoes every day, we would be mentally exhausted by noon. But it also causes us to roll over and grab the phone first thing in the morning to see what needs our attention rather than living our day based on how we think it should look. In order to change a behavior we have to create a new trigger that helps us change the habit. Put a magazine, a book, or some articles on the nightstand and leave the phone on the dresser or in the closet. Remember, it’s impossible to break habits, we can only create new ones to replace the old ones. Habits remain with us forever and we can revert back to an old less desireable habit pretty quickly if we let the new better habit slide too long.
Revisit the why every day
People achieve things they deeply care about much more often than things they think they should do, were told to do, or things that they do to please someone else or keep their job. The whole point of defining your success by looking at it at the end of the coming year is to allow you to mentally live in that moment. It’s important to mentally spend time in that place where you have achieved things you are proud of, grown in ways you care about and conquered challenges that you feel good about. Afterall, you chose specific goals because they represent who you want to become. Goals connected to something that meaningful are more attainable and as a result, we are willing to work hard enough to make them a reality. Find a few moments every day to live in that reality and remember why you are trying to change habits in the first place. That helps you plan consciously to achieve your goals and also helps wire your brain to create habits that support the changes you are making.
Leadership is about learning how to create change for ourselves that helps us achieve more and in turn helps us support others to achieve their own greatest potential. Understanding how human behavior change happens and how we can leverage that knowledge more effectively is essential if we want to achieve our full potential and be an invaluable leader for others.
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