At the start of each new year, most people are excited about making changes in their lives. We make vision boards, resolutions and outline detailed plans for success. Unfortunately, many of us fail to stick to these plans. By the end of January, we’ve reverted to our old ways. Exercising becomes too inconvenient, chocolate chip cookies are too tasty to resist, the job we hate doesn’t seem so bad after all, and saving money seems like an impossible task.
I know all about this behavior because I have succumbed to it. I want to do better, but my comfort zone often feels quite comfy. Earlier this year, I wrote a post about my family and personal goals for 2013. Of the six goals I listed for myself, I’ve only managed to work on one of them. Am I disappointed by my progress? Of course. But I’m thankful for this reality check. It showed me that I need to make some adjustments in my life if I intend to keep my promises to myself and to my family.
In order to achieve my goals, I’ve decided to focus on these 7 Principles of Success.
Document Your Goals
I’m a big believer in writing down goals and objectives. This year, I purchased several notebooks to jot down ideas and keep track of my projects. I also use an app called Things to organize my tasks. However you chose to document your goals is up to you, but you must make sure that they are visible. Writing your goals in a notebook and storing it on a shelf is not helpful. My family likes to frame our goals and place them in conspicious locations around our house. The visibility helps to keep us focused and serves as a constant reminder of the commitments we’ve made.
Find Your Motivation
Without the proper motivation, it’s easy to abandon your goals when things get difficult. My biggest push came one morning when my 5-year old son came into my bedroom. He nudged me until I woke up, gave me a big hug and said, “I love you, Daddy.” At that moment, I knew that I had to start working out and eating better immediately because my son needed his dad to be healthy. Motivation is different for each person. Find what works for you and remain to true to it.
Seek Accountability Partners
It’s easy to think to yourself, “I’m going to be a better husband this year.” The hard part is actually making the changes necessary to become a better husband. That’s where accountability partners come in. Having someone in your corner that you can be honest with is important for your success. We all need someone who will empathize with us, motivate us, and give us a kick in the pants when we need it. I’ve surrounded myself with several guys who help to hold me accountable in several areas of my life. My friends Lamar Tyler and John Pacini keep me focused on my business goals. Eric Payne and I push each other to be better fathers and husbands. And I have half a dozen guys at my church whom I trust enough to hold me accountable for my spiritual growth. People like to perpetuate the myth of the self-made man, but the truth is no one can make it on his own. We all need help.
Overcome the Dip
It’s always exciting and fun to start a something new, but when the initial excitement wears off and the hard work begins, you may find yourself asking if it is even worth the hassle. Author Seth Godin, calls this dilemma The Dip — a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing. If you’ve reached your Dip, don’t give up. Go back to start and try again. If you stumble, get back up. What really sets apart successful people from everyone else is the ability to overcome disappointments and failures without becoming discouraged.
It’s easy to focus on our failures because they are often quite visibile. However, we must learn to celebrate our successes. Any behavorial psychologist will tell you that positive reinforcement is the best motivator. When you lose a couple of pounds, celebrate. When you figure out a way to convince your teenage daughter to confide in you, celebrate. When your boss agrees to greenlight your project, celebrate. Life should be a constant celebration because good things happen every day.
Quit Without Guilt
There comes a point in your journey when you have to decide if your goals are actually worth pursuing. Pursuing the wrong goals is an exercise in futility that will only lead to frustration. When you realize that you’ve made a bad decision, it’s important to quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt. Last year, one of my goals was to play “Human Nature” on my guitar as well as John Mayer did at Michael Jackson’s memorial service. After a few lessons from my guitar teacher, I quickly realized that I was unwilling to put in the work necessary to achieve my goal, and I was okay with that. Instead, I decided to shift my focus – and energy – into becoming proficient at video production. When I look back, I’m convinced that I made the right choice.
In this “always on” culture, it’s hard to find time for self-evaluation or introspection. But if we are to achieve our goals, we must find time to be still. Turn off the TV, hide your cell phone, and place your laptop in sleep mode. Find a quiet place to pray, meditate, and be alone with your thoughts. These few moments of solitude allow you to recharge and reconnect. I often find clarity during my quiet time. It refreshes my soul and gives me the energy and confidence to conquer the world – one goal at a time.
Question: How do you remain motivated to achieve your goals?