OK, first things first (Effective Habit No.3, thanks Stephen Covey). For those of you who are short of time or simply like to cut to the chase, I’ve split this blog into two halves. The first bit is the helpful, relevant stuff. The second bit may or may not be helpful or relevant, so please feel free to skip this if you want.
First Bit (definitely helpful and relevant)
Over the next few days millions of us will be making new years’ resolutions, or their modern-day equivalent, goal setting. All very worthwhile as most of them centre around self-improvement; eat less, exercise more, drink less, earn more, learn a new hobby, give up smoking etc.
Unfortunately, however, statistically around 92% of these resolutions are doomed to fail, with only around one-fifth making it to the end of January. The main reason is that people rely on just one thing, willpower, to enable them to succeed.
I’m afraid unless you’re a super hero, willpower is simply not enough. The reason for that is you’re likely to be too addicted to your current ways of life and thinking to succeed. No, to keep your resolutions, hit your goals and keep going until you get there requires more, four steps more, actually. Unfortunately, they all sound really boring words but adhering to them will ultimately make the difference between success and failure. Ready for the boring (but vital) words? They are:
- Articulate. In order to be able to keep a resolution, you need to spell out exactly what it is you want to achieve. I mean literally, SPELL IT OUT! It doesn’t matter if you type it, write it under your pillowcase, get a tattoo with the words on or hang a banner up but if you’re going to turn your resolution into reality you need to be able to express it both verbally and in writing. Why is this so important? Well, there’re countless theories, most of which you can research on the Internet but the bottom line is that it just works. I have proved this to myself on countless occasions and my clients prove it to me on a regular basis. Want to achieve something? Articulate it and record it.
- Process. Now this is a REALLY boring word. But setting out to reach something without giving thought as to how you will achieve it is pointless; you really need a process. Earlier in my career, I became a dab hand at designing processes, I was even a whizz in using Microsoft Visio to design really clever and complex process maps, with different shapes and connectors. But you don’t need any of that. All you need is a rough idea of how you’ll begin, what you’ll actually do, and then JUST DO IT. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the detail, you can pick that up on the way. But it’s critical that you recognise that you’ll need a process, draft out as much as you can and then get on with it.
- Schedule. As any schoolteacher or delivery driver will tell you, having a schedule is essential. Knowing not just what you’re doing but how and when you’re doing it. When you have a schedule it becomes so much easier to ensure it gets done. Some people like a daily schedule, some prefer weekly, monthly or even quarterly. That’s fine; just find what works for you and then stick to it.
- Routine. Closely linked to, but not the same as scheduling. Once you’ve articulated what you want to attain, thought about how you’re going to do it and then scheduled the activity, the final thing to do is build a routine. So, for example, if you intend to get fitter, you’ve specified your goal and wrote it down, you’ll want to schedule time for regular exercise and then build a routine around it. That may involve getting up earlier, going to bed earlier, eating at different times, having different arrangements for childcare etc. But the important thing to establish is regularity, a routine, so that the activity becomes a part of your everyday or every week life.
Second Bit (might be helpful and/or relevant)
After dispensing all this grand advice, you may be wondering what my resolutions are and how I’m going to stick to them. Well, the last bits easy, I’m going to articulate them, design a process (the HOW) then schedule and establish a routine. But, what are they? Actually, I have a few, but here’s my top 3 and they’re all pretty straightforward.
- Just do my thing. In so many areas of our life and work we’re all guilty of watching what others are getting up to. Most of us have done it since we started school and were introduced to the wonderful world of competition. Of course, social media actively encourages this, which has likely contributed to an explosion of mental health issues, particularly among young people. Comparing is particularly prevalent in the world of business where you’re bombarded with advice as to ‘the right way’ to succeed. But this year, I will simply ‘do my thing’. I’ll carry out my vocation to the best of my ability without comparing myself to others. As I’ve progressed in business, I’ve come to appreciate more and more the wise words of Earl Nightingale who said that if you want to be successful, watch what everyone else is doing, and then do the opposite!
- Spend even more on my own development. Over the last few years, I’ve spent thousands of pounds on my personal growth. I’ve paid for coaching, attended umpteen training weekends, bought and read countless books and studied and passed various diplomas. I can honestly say it’s been worth every penny. But if I want to keep developing as a coach and leader, if I want to give my clients the best possible service I need to keep investing in my own development which means creating the financial headroom to do that.
- Be more consistent in my actions. While I’m a coach, I’m a human being, too, and, I admit, it’s all too easy to get distracted. It’s not as if I don’t know what to do. Articulate and design a plan of action, create a schedule and routine, all good so far. But then a new idea, initiative or thought comes along and it’s easy to get sidetracked. They call it ‘shiny penny’ syndrome, you see something shiny on the causeway and stop to see what it is, pick it up and examine it carefully. So, this year, I’ll be more consistent, I’ll create my plans and then stick to them remorselessly. No more shiny pennies…well, not unless they’re really shiny, and golden, and twinkle up at me…!