Once again, the new year is upon us and with it comes new year resolutions. If all goes to plan, by this time next year all your friends and family members will be filthy rich with amazing bodies. We both know this is unlikely to happen, but who is to say you yourself cannot experience massive change in your life within a year’s time? The process is surprisingly easy to do, yet by this time next year 9/10 of your friends and family members will be no closer to their goals than they sit today.
If this process is so simple, why do most people fail? For starters, many people do not know what they really want. It’s hard to hit a moving target. The second place people fail is in creating a plan to reach their goals. A plan is like a GPS guiding you to your destination. Without it, there is no way to know which direction you are heading. Lastly, most people lack the courage and determination to take any serious action to achieve their goals. The end result of this is another year filled with excuses and blame given to everyone and everything, but themselves.
If you want to separate yourself from the rest of society, you must be willing to take ownership of your life and realize that you have sole control over your future. You must be able to visualize the things you want in life, create a plan to reach those goals, and most importantly, take the action necessary to create the life you want.
Know What You Want
It may seem painfully obvious that one would need to know what they want before they set a goal to achieve it, yet so few people truly know what they want before they begin writing their new year resolutions. Without a clear vision on what they want, people generally fall back to the “lose weight,” “eat healthier,” “exercise more” resolutions that never seem to happen.
To find out what you truly want, you must separate your “shoulds” from your “musts.” Your shoulds are the things you wish would happen, but have no real desire to do what is necessary to turn them into reality. Your musts are the things you will stop at nothing to achieve, regardless of what it takes to get there.
Too often our musts in life (lose weight, quit smoking, etc) are really shoulds in our mind. This is because our body associates more pain with changing than it does pleasure with the end result. The only way to “trick” our body into turning shoulds into musts is focusing intently on the pleasure you will receive from changing, as well as all the pain of NOT changing you are experiencing now. When done with enough conviction, it is possible to associate pleasure with the process instead of pain, and as each day goes by, the idea of going back to your old ways seem more and more ridiculous.
Once you decide what you want, you can plan how to get there. It is important not to overlook this step because all the motivation in the world means nothing unless you have a realistic and detailed plan to achieve what you want.
Perhaps, you are a business owner with a 2016 revenue goal of $X. Do you know how much you will need to make each month? week? day?
Maybe you have a weight loss goal of X pounds. Do you know how many calories that amounts to?
With realistic goals in mind, you can start to plan out your course of action. As you lay out your plan, it is important to create monthly and quarterly benchmarks to ensure you are on pace to reach your goals. These benchmarks will serve as your motivation giving you smaller chunks of your goals to focus on, preventing you from getting overwhelmed. Benchmarks also have the dual benefit of giving you feedback on your plan. If after a couple of months you are nowhere near to being on pace, it is clear it is time to change your approach.
By creating a detailed plan, you now have a “fool-proof” step-by-step guide allowing you to take action towards your goals. As you progress through the year, it is important to continually reinforce the positive actions you are taking with rewards after each successful benchmark hit.
Now that you know what you want and how you are going to get it, the last step is to simply take action. If the first two steps have been done properly, this third step should be pretty straightforward, yet far too many people fail to take action on the things they want in life. If they do take action, it only lasts for a few short weeks before they fall back to their old lifestyle. This is because taking action forces you to take ownership of your life and admit you may not be where you want to be. Most people also fear the possibility of failing and will do whatever they can to avoid embarrassment.
When you take action, you take over sole responsibility of your future. No longer can you blame the world around you for your situation. This can be somewhat scary, but it should also be exciting knowing that you have control of your life.
Lastly, as cliché as new year resolutions are, I challenge you to come up with 1-3 areas of your life you wish to improve on in 2016. These can be anything from business, to health, to family. Write these goals down and create a realistic step-by-step plan to achieve them. Review your list at least once per day. Remind yourself why you are working on these things and think about all the pleasure you will receive from accomplishing your goals. Also, think about all the negative things that will happen if you do not follow through with your actions.
If you are willing to do this for 365 days, your life will be vastly different by 2017.