One week into 2014 and, if you’ve set a (or some) resolution(s) you should be 7 days in. Just curious…How’s that going for you?! Statistics on sticking to New Years resolutions are terrible! Depending on what source you look at – the success rate can be only 5-15%. Come on! we can do better than that!
Actually starting a task can be the hardest part – I get it – but personally, I don’t understand why people wait until Jan 1. to begin any goal. Goal-achieving can be hard enough without letting the start of the Gregorian Calendar be what pushes your start button. I believe that using the calendar to inspire action is like using a false friend for a buddy; in a pinch – will they go out of their way to back you up when you need it? You want to start something? Start it! You want to change something? Change it!
As you progress it should feel as if you are making choices – not sacrifices.
I’m not saying having New Years Resolutions is wrong. I suppose if having a deadline to finish a goal works so well for me, then having a deadline to start a goal can work for others. In either case, I believe the key to success is in the ownership of the goal itself. No goal will be easy to achieve, but if you believe the goal is yours, something you-want-for-you, then the easier it is to stay committed to. (ex. If a child wants to learn/play a sport/instrument then they are far more likely to stay committed to the training than a child whose parents want them to play that sport/instrument. Or… A person has to want to quit smoking for them self first. The goal of quitting because other people want you to, or you think other people want you to is so much harder. )
- Did you set a goal just to set it? Really Tough to stick to
- Is it someone else’s goal? Harder to stick to
- Did you wait for someone to start/push you? Hard to stick to
- Is it your own goal? (set for and by you) Easier to stick to
- Did you instigate the start and ‘jump in’? Easier to stick to
- Are you genuinely passionate about the goal? Practically easy to stick to
The more involvement you have in the initial planning, instigation and performance of a goal the more motivation, commitment and accountability you’ll have as you progress along your goal-achieving path. When that is the case, as you progress it should feel as if you are making choices that will help achieve your goal – not that you are making sacrifices that will ‘ruin your day’. This isn’t exclusive to adults. Too often I hear stories where parents have, with best intentions, taken care of all of the planning, the start date and even a lot of the ‘tricky’ or more challenging elements of a goal/task that belongs to their child and then they wonder why their child has no commitment to it. Continue reading
Often when I’m speaking to groups about goal achieving I talk about preparation. I like to think that the process of preparation is like filling a cup with grains of rice. For time you spend focusing on work/training/school/relationships you get to put a grain of rice in the cup. The cup represents your goal, and the grains of rice are all the steps that you need to take to achieve it. Every time you are open to new ideas, change, challenge and co-operation you get to put another grain of rice in the cup.
There is a reason that starting is the hardest part of almost any task/goal. In the beginning we have an obviously empty cup and the first grains of rice that we intend to put in look hopeless small. Goals don’t have to be huge; they can be small cups – or large buckets, even the size of your rice grains will differ – some seem minute and others massive. But there is tremendous value to each grain; added together- all your work adds up to something of value. As the grains of rice fill the cup you feel more and more ready; this is, I believe, the best way to deal with stress.
Attendance alone doesn’t earn a grain of rice – you have to be present; giving 100% of what you’ve got to give and genuinely listening – not waiting to talk – which is something I’ll admit that I can struggle with. When you are stubborn, resistant to new ideas or in attendance-only-mode grains of rice are removed from the cup. Everyone will have a few of those, but it’s certainly a pile we need to keep to a minimum!
Today I saw this video that uses 28,835 jelly beans to demonstrate how all of our ‘single days’ add up. When the video isolates one single bean to illustrate “your first day” my mind jumped to the cup-filling-with-rice/preparation concept. Beside all the other beans that one yellow jelly bean looked so… small – as if it could never matter; the idea of it ever becoming the pile – with all its impact – seems unfathomable. But like the grains of rice… they add up too. As you work to achieve your goals, your efforts big and small have value.
Every step you take matters, first ones just as much as last ones.