There is nothing worse than sleepwalking through life and never enjoying the journey.
Bruce Lee said, “A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.”
Do you agree?
If a goal is not meant to be reached, then how do you know if you ever arrive?
Our lives depend on whether or not we arrive.
Most of us spend the first months of every new year with good intentions, constructing goals and resolutions. But the journey to success is NOT paved with intentions. We tend to forget that New Year’s Day is just one day on the calendar, when, in fact, every day we wake up is a new start, a new year, and represents a life full of new possibilities.
At the end of 2012, Forbes reported only 90 percent of all resolutions made were ever achieved. In past years, that percentage also held true for the goals I’d painstakingly written each January. To get different results would require me to do things differently.
Thus, instead of using the same goal setting, objective-creating, activity-making list, my goal development centered on a review of the research about behavior change.
To achieve better results, there had to be different actions and, therefore, different behaviors.
Your first steps to lasting behavior change are foundational to the rest. These are the five strategies I’ve used, and use with coaching clients, to make permanent changes and improve results.
1. Forgiveness. This is the hero of changing your behavior. Without forgiving yourself and others, you become bitter, angry, and completely unproductive. Whether it’s forgiving yourself for smoking your “last” cigarette for the fifth time, eating dessert, or getting angry with your sibling, forgiveness is critical. You may have to forgive your children, your siblings, your spouse, or your boss.
Forgiveness is an act of grace, because none of us is perfect. You are just as flawed as the next person and require just as much forgiveness. Don’t let pride get in the way of asking for, or giving forgiveness, because it only leads to greater pain and lack of success in your own achievements.
2. Open Mindedness. Before being able to change your behavior you’ll have to be open to seeing the world differently, doing things differently, and new concepts. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, if you do things the same way you always did, you can expect the same results you’ve always gotten. That is not to say you should jump on the bandwagon of the next fad diet or exercise program that comes across your radar. The focus is to evaluate new ideas with an open mind and not become an open funnel to any and all ideas.
Your aim is to get the best results possible for the effort you put in.
3. Conquer Fear and Self-Doubt. The twin cornerstones of failure are fear and self-doubt. They speak to you at night as you’re lying alone in your bed — and you begin to question whether or not you are good enough, smart enough, make enough money, or have enough friends.
Whether you want to admit to it or not, we are all afraid of something. You might not be able to name that fear. It could be just a pit in your stomach that nags at you. You might not call it ‘fear,’ but whatever you call it, it continues to gnaw at your self-confidence and self-esteem. To make real change and experience real success you must face your fear and self-doubt.
And when you feel the fear, do it anyway.
4. Avoid Negative People. You know the people in your life who continue to tell you that you won’t achieve your goals? They thrive on negativity.
Unfortunately, negativity is contagious. It also has an amazing number of negative effects on your physical health. If those aren’t enough reasons to reduce your time spent with negative people, then also consider that their negative behavior reduces your potential for success.
5. Improve Your Self-talk. Self-talk is what you say to yourself. You might not even recognize that you do it. The words you say aloud are more powerful than the ones spoken in your head. And they will either lift your spirit or bring you down.
Try this experiment — it demonstrates how your brain will believe what you say.
You need two people for this. Stand facing your partner. Hold your dominant arm out to the side, level with your shoulder, elbow straight. The other person will then try to push your arm down. Ask them to note how hard it was to move your arm.
Next, say three times out loud, “I’m not good enough.” Whether you believe the statement in your heart or not, say it with conviction.
Now do the same test, with the same arm and ask your partner what they notice.
If you are like over 95 percent of people, your arm strength will be weaker in the second test. Even if you try to guard against it, the results will be the same. This is the power of self-talk.
Making changes can be challenging and time consuming. But if you don’t change, you’ll get the same results, year after year. What do you want to experience in the next 12 months?