By Curt Fowler
First week of the new year. The end of the holiday season and the beginning of our diets!
We all make a little fun of friends and family members that go overboard with their New Year’s resolutions. Why? Mainly because they are setting goals that everyone is pretty sure they will never reach. But, at least they are trying.
We all need to take this opportunity to push ourselves and our businesses further this year. If we are not growing, we are dying. I know change is hard and we are tired of setting goals and failing. It seems easier to set no goals at all. But, no goals leads to no growth. No growth leads to dying. I’m not up for that. You should not be either. Here are four, somewhat counter-intuitive, steps to set and reach your goal for this year.
Set One Goal – Yep. Not New Year’s resolutions, a New Year’s resolution. One. Singular. Uno.
Discipline is hard and we’ll do anything to avoid it. Giving yourself just one goal for the year is just the trick to accomplishing the goal. Will you consider yourself a failure if you only accomplish your most important goal next year? Probably not. And, you can always start on your second goal after you accomplish your most important.
How could you possibly choose just one goal? Think about your habits. It takes a new habit to reach an important goal. What one new habit would have the greatest positive impact on your life?
These habits are called keystone habits. Getting one keystone habit instilled in your life can set off a waterfall of positive benefits. Maybe yours is getting up early every morning, working out or turning off social media.
Mine is eating right. I used to do long distance triathlons. I could eat a bunch of junk food and get away with it. Four kids later, I have no time for any athletics that includes the word “long.” Working out more is not an option because my life is time constrained. Eating less and eating better takes very little time. So, if I eat less/better, I can work out less which saves me time. I’ll be healthier, which improves my quality of life and lifespan. More, healthier years gives me more great times with my wife and kids. Eating healthier gives me more time and energy to accomplish the things God put me on this earth to do. Eating better would be a keystone habit in my life. What is yours?
Win Daily – After many years of goal setting failures (Correction: Goal accomplishing failures. I am very good at setting them.), I have learned that if I cannot create a small, daily win I’ll get off track, lose momentum and fail. If I can find one daily action I can call a win, I can make that action a habit. That habit repeated day after day creates the big win.
Daily wins look great on a calendar or spreadsheet as big, red Xs. Those Xs look like wins. Line up enough of them and you have a streak, and nobody likes to break a streak.
I also use a point system to track my momentum. Every red X earns me one point. Miss an X and I lose a point. As my momentum number increases, I can see the habit is forming. I hate to see my momentum number going down, so I tend to get myself back on track quickly.
Fail and Reset – Failure is a required part of pushing yourself to greater heights. See it as an indicator you have set a worthy goal. Fail more than a few times and you need to realize your goal is a little too worthy.
Repeated failure kills our enthusiasm. Proverbs 13 says that hope deferred makes a heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. We’ve got to create some wins to keep our hearts from getting sick.
How do we overcome repeated failure? Make your goal smaller. If trying to not eat junk food all day is too hard, then just make it to dinner or lunch. Anything, as long as it is a step in the direction of your bigger goal. Make this new, smaller win a habit and then increase the difficulty.
Get a Buddy – A coach, a friend, a comrade in arms. Your coach does not have to be chasing the same goal with you, but they do need to be chasing a goal you can help them accomplish. You’ll lift each other up when one of you falls and will remind each other that the reward is worth the effort. Life comes at us fast and we rarely take the time to access the results we are getting. Set at least a weekly call with your buddy so you are forced to
review your results and make any necessary course corrections.
Focus your energies and you can accomplish great things.
Curt Fowler is an organizational growth expert and President of Fowler & Company, a business advisory firm dedicated to helping leaders create and achieve a compelling vision for their organization. He has an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School, is a CPA, and a pretty good guy as defined by his wife and four children.
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