“I don’t do resolutions,” Jane told me last week. “What’s the point? I never keep them.”
You probably know a few people like Jane yourself. Perhaps you’re one of them!
In your heart, you know you want to make changes in your life, but year after year you keep being pulled back to the same old patterns of thought and behavior. After a while you start wondering if change is really possible at all.
Given that less than 50% of people who make resolutions ever keep them until Valentine’s Day, it’s understandable why so many are cynical about them. But while people sometimes make hasty resolutions, the real reason many fail is simple – they don’t take into account basic human psychology.
Motivation is tenuous in nature; it ebbs and flows. Not only that, but your innate fear of failure and tendency to stick with the familiar can sabotage your efforts to change or achieve your most inspiring goals before you ever get far out the starting gate. Heck if pursuing brave goals and making changes in our lives were easy, we’d all be doing it!
To make the changes you really want – whether on January 1st or any day of the year – you need to set yourself up for success over the long haul. After all, success isn’t all just about attitude, it’s about employing strategies that steel your resolve and fuel your courage when fear rises up. Here are 7 of the most powerful!
1. Clarify Your Big Why
For a resolution to stick, it has to be aligned with your core values and hold deep personal meaning that you connect with on a deep emotional level. Most people want to look better or have more money, but your resolutions have to go beyond superficial desires and connect with what truly matters most to you.
Whatever you resolve to do, get really clear about why it really matters and the personal price you’ll pay if you put it off any longer. If your resolutions don’t come with a big burning Why you’ll find yourself hard-pressed to keep your resolve at the first temptation to ditch it.
2. Own The Pay-Off You Get Sticking To The Status Quo
Change is difficult, even change for the better. If it wasn’t everyone would be changing those aspects of their relationships, finances, jobs, and health that pull them down day after day, year after year. The reason they don’t is because to change anything we have to give up the payoff of sticking with the status quo. A sense of security. Convenience. Emotional familiarity. Mental complacency. Social kudos. No risk.
Then ask yourself this one question:
“Is what I’m getting from the choice I’ve been making worth what I’m giving up to have it?”
Whatever you do, don’t discount the cost of inaction. As I wrote in Brave, growth and comfort can’t ride the same horse!
3. Narrow Your Focus
Aiming high is great, but deciding you want to run a marathon, finish your MBA, change jobs, renovate your home, and write a book all in the next year can leave you bouncing about like Tigger on Red Bull, not quite sure which direction you are going. Instead, set yourself up for success by focusing on one major goal at a time, not twenty-one. As Daniel Goleman wrote in his latest bestseller Focus, “Distraction is a goal killer!” So too is overwhelm and exhaustion.
Start with just major undertaking come January 1st. Then break that goal down into do-able small bite-size steps.
Small steps, strong start, clear focus!
4. Enlist a Support Crew
Change is hard. Achieving big goals is hard. Dealing with setbacks is hard. Staying motivated is hard. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in your ability to succeed and are 100% behind you in helping you do what it takes can make all the difference.
So create an environment of accountability that makes it hard for you NOT to do what you’re committed to. For instance:
- Make a public pledge…better still, take my Courage Pledge! Tell people what you’re up to and enlist their support to hold you accountable.
- Join a group working toward similar goals, hire a coach or engage a trainer (and pay for 6 months upfront!)
Just never underestimate the power of your social environment to support or sabotage your success. Likewise, if there are people (or environmental triggers) in your life that pull you down or off track, address them directly, set clear boundaries up front or avoid them entirely.
5. Make Your Goals Measurable
It’s all well and good to want to eat better, get fitter, be happier, relax more and create better work/life balance but you could add an apple a day to your diet and tick the first box. Precisely what are you committed to? The more specific you are, the more likely you will be able to succeed. So describe your goals and resolutions (let’s face it, they are one and the same) in ways that allow you to track your progress and measure your success.
- if you want to build a more intimate relationship with your partner, schedule at least one date night per month.
- if you want to get fitter, aim to run 10k by a certain date, then schedule how many workouts you’ll do each week to build up to it.
- if you want more balance, decide exactly what needs to be added to or subtracted from your life to achieve it.
6. Prepare For Setbacks
Not even Tony Robbins is on-fire every single moment of every single day. It’s part and parcel of the human condition. So while it’s easy to get caught up in your initial wave of enthusiasm as you imagine yourself looking svelte on the beach next summer or banking that first million, it’s also easy to come crashing down when your initial efforts don’t produce immediate and spectacular results.
Success wouldn’t be meaningful if it landed easily in your lap. In fact, it’s the roll-up-your-sleeves hard-yakka that grows your muscles for life and makes your successes truly meaningful. Likewise, assuming everything should fall neatly into place is a surefire recipe for disappointment and frustration. So too is thinking you’ll be as motivated a month from now as you are today.
What matters most isn’t that everything goes exactly to plan, it’s what you do when it doesn’t! Resilience is more crucial than ever to succeed in today’s uncertain, fast-changing and often unpredictable world. Your disappointments, bad days, failures and setbacks don’t define you; how you respond to them will.
So don’t make your failings mean more than they do. Reflect on the lessons they hold, adjust accordingly and then tap your inner John Wayne and get back in the saddle. As I wrote in Brave, growth and comfort can’t ride the same horse. Choose growth in 2018… just be smart about it.
7. Invest in Your Best. Daily.
Who are you when you are at your best? Now ask yourself, what do you have to do for yourself – daily, weekly, regularly – to be that person… to be playing your ‘A Game’?
- Physicallystrong and energetic with plenty of stamina.
- Emotionallyconfident, optimistic and resilient.
- Mentallyfocused and clear on top priorities.
- Spirituallycentered and attuned to your highest purpose on this earth.
Whatever it is, schedule time right now on your calendar for doing it! For working out, for planning ahead, decompressing, re-centering, and recharging! You will go further and bounce back faster if you are continually investing in your ‘best-self. It’s not selfish or indulgent… it’s indispensable for living your best life!
In the video below I share my top 5 daily rituals that set me up to do everything else better and braver!
Truly successful people do things others don’t want to do or don’t think to do. They are clear about what they want, focused on getting it, prepared to challenge themselves and persistent when plans don’t work out.
If you want to make this year your year of living bravely, invest time now to plan ahead so you can start strong, stay brave and live well, no matter what!