The start of something new brings the hope of something great. For nearly half of us, the passing of another year comes with the resolve to make some meaningful changes. Getting healthy, saving money, and making more time for friends, family, travel and hobbies continue to top our lists of top resolutions year after year.
And yet, very few people are successful in achieving their resolution. Many people cave on their new resolution in the first week. That doesn’t say much for the time-honored tradition of goal setting, does it? What gives?
What gives is our willpower. Relying on willpower alone is a terrible mechanism for making meaningful change.
You have to support your willpower with strategy and planning. With the right plan in place, backed up by commitment and discipline, just about any resolution can become reality for you this year.
Here’s my 10 step planning process, to help you get started:
Decide What You Really Want
The more specific and precise you can be, the better. How much? When? These are important questions to answer because it helps you track, measure and evaluate progress. Write it down. Don’t skip this step!
I would encourage anyone attacking important changes to consider why they want to put forth the effort in the first place? What will it mean to the quality of your life? To your future? To your family? Write it down. This can become a powerful source of resolve, discipline and commitment.
Commit to a Specific Action Plan
Identify the tactics that are required to accomplish what you want. What are the principles, practices and daily habits necessary to move the needle? Are your routines and rituals in alignment with the outcome you desire? What changes need to take place? Write them down. If this is a sticking point, simply borrow some action planning insights from someone who has already been down this road. Reverse engineering the success of somebody else is a perfect way to get pointed in the right direction. Just remember not get to stuck in the planning process. You need to take action now!
I work with a business coach, life coach and personal trainer. In my experience, enlisting some outside expertise can cut the time to achievement in half. This applies to almost anything! The advice and perspective of well-intentioned friends and loved ones certainly can lend some valuable support. When it comes to getting the most out of feedback, it’s important to consider the source.
Create Accountability Systems
The coaches and trainer add another critical component for successful outcomes: accountability. When the willpower wanes, you need to fall back on an accountability system. I procrastinate. But my business manager and content marketing team force me to be accountable. I hate going to the gym before work. But I can’t bail when I know someone is waiting for me. I love eating pizza and drinking beer when I am watching ESPN at night. But I won’t if I know I have to log what I eat as part of a “system.” Systems make it harder to quit, and whenever I do come up short my accountability system snaps me right back into place.
Measure What Matters
There is an old adage: “You can’t improve what you do not measure.” It’s important to establish a baseline and benchmark progress toward the desired outcome. Measurement is part of an effective accountability system. It elevates our awareness, focus and commitment. Technology often makes it easier to measure what matters.
Optimize Your Morning Routine
How do you start the day? I have been experimenting with my own morning routine the last several months. My shift has included waking up 60 minutes earlier. (I also get to bed earlier so I don’t sacrifice sleep). I meditate for 15 to 20 minutes, including practicing gratitude and setting my intention for the day. This is also the perfect time to review and reflect on the commitments you’ve made and why they are important. I try and eat a healthy breakfast and do a little learning before I get into my inbox. For a little inspiration check out the morning routines of these 12 successful leaders. You’ll notice a common thread — consistency!
Look for the opportunity to support someone else committed achieving more in the new year. Can you lend expertise or mentor someone in need? Doing it without the expectation of anything in return is service that can prove to be a catalyst to propel you forward. Exceptional teachers follow certain patterns, according to the research about What Makes a Great Teacher:
“First, great teachers set big goals for their students. They are also perpetually looking for ways to improve their own effectiveness. … Great teachers … constantly reevaluate what they are doing.
Superstar teachers have a few other tendencies in common: they avidly recruited students and their families into the process; they maintained focus, ensuring that everything they did contributed to student learning; they planned exhaustively and purposefully—for the next day or the year ahead—by working backward from the desired outcome; and they worked relentlessly, refusing to surrender to the combined menaces of bureaucracy, and budgetary shortfalls.”
Mark the milestones on the journey to the next level with celebration! Don’t let significant chunks of time pass without acknowledging progress. Celebration fuels momentum and makes the journey much more fun!
Life evolves all the time and plans will change, but it is good to have a starting point. Jan. 1 is the perfect time to make your move and adjust accordingly. It’s worth the effort.
I hope this helps you take it to the next level. Happy New Year!
Ryan Estis helps progressive companies embrace change, attack opportunity and achieve breakthrough performance. Delivering more than 75 live events annually, Ryan provides high-impact keynote presentations and professional development in partnership with the world’s best brands. Learn more about Ryan.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.