If you’re anything like me, and since you follow and read my blog, I am assuming you are, the hope and joy of the Holidays also brings another kind of excitement with it. It means that soon we will celebrate a New Year. As you also likely know, I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions but am a huge proponent of setting goals.
Research tells us that a small fraction of society actually sets, writes down, and works on goals consistently. So, while many of you may either be thinking about goals or not, I am willing to bet that you have aspirations, visions, and ideas about who you want to be. Whether you are actively pursuing them or not, the New Year is a great time to evaluate where you are, where you want to be, and what steps to take to bridge the gaps.
The truth is that if you are not happy with where you are today, there is a simple fix. Change, make different choices, and commit to it for the long term. I said it was simple. I did NOT say it was easy. And this is where so often we get frustrated with ourselves, and perhaps even others we are close to or live with. How many times have you started a new anything only to turn back in frustration a few weeks later? Or maybe you didn’t even make it a few hours?
Everyone has something in their lives they want to change. Perhaps it’s as innocuous as changing the way we talk or as grandiose as leaving a current job that brings mostly frustration to start a new exciting career with another company or in another field. Whether the change can be made immediately or something that requires months and perhaps even years to complete, the path to success cannot start until you do. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.
I have good news, and I have bad news for you. Let’s start with the good news. All of us – and yes, my friend, including you, can change something in ourselves we don’t like. Yes, the first step is often the hardest: that first day of a new exercise, diet, or plan to change how we speak to others. It takes a little extra effort and planning, and for some reason, many never even start. But if you’re going to get anywhere, you have to start, and everyone can create a new pattern, behavior, or routine.
Now, the bad news. Starting is the easy part. Staying with it is the hard part. Most researchers agree that it takes around 66 days to form a new habit. That is a long time if you’re trying to do something every day that you’ve never done consistently before. Thus, the problem and mental obstacle that many people face when changing behaviors.
I recently read a quote, and I am not citing the source out of forgetfulness, not a lack of wanting to give proper credit. The quote was: “All of us have the ability to change, but we lack the ability to be consistent.” Learning to become consistent is a worthwhile pursuit, so allow me to give you a couple of suggestions.
Already, we have determined you have to start. The first thing I want to encourage you to do, however, is to start slow. If you are like most people I know, once you convince yourself to start, you try to become an expert before you have even read the manual. Examples abound in every area conceivable, but if you convince yourself you will start running, you don’t go out the first day and run a marathon. I would encourage you to do less than you think you can do. Why? Because getting the dopamine rush of completing the first day of something new is worthwhile.
Then the next day, you go a little farther, and before you know it, you are accomplishing more than you ever thought possible. Then (and only then), you can start to do more. And you will because you will feel like doing it. It’s a little trick you play on yourself to get you through those first few days and weeks that before seemed like drudgery.
Finally, it’s not a new idea but do the hard thing first. As Brian Tracy said many years ago if you’ve got to eat a frog today, do it first thing in the morning. Once you have eaten your frog today, you will feel like there is nothing you can’t overcome as you go through for the rest of your day. Try it, and let me know if you agree.
So, my friends, make the choices today that you will be glad you did tomorrow. This is the path to growth, confidence, and results. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. But it is undoubtedly worth the effort.
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I also invite you to review my coaching page on my website here. I have only a couple of spots left in my Personal Development Coaching Practice. Each week I offer two free strategy sessions on a first-come, first-served basis to people interested in exploring how to become a person who pursues their goals and dreams. These special hour-long sessions prove again and again to be invaluable to those who participate. You can book these directly on my coaching page – I look forward to serving you.