Happy New Year! With everyone setting out to accomplish all the resolutions they’ve made for the upcoming year (which we all typically abandon about halfway through the month), I thought it only appropriate to take a look at how some of the most successful people manage to actually stick to the goals they set for themselves.
The Slight Edge
Jeff Olson wrote an outstanding book entitled The Slight Edge. In it, he explains that little actions (positive or negative) consistently performed over time will compound upon each other to yield amazingly positive or astoundingly negative results. So the key to any true changes in life does not lie in grand overtures, but in developing habits that will shape us into the best versions of ourselves. And here are 4 ways to help us get on the right track.
1. Start small
When deciding it’s time for a change in our lives, our first impulse is often to shoot for the moon. Then get totally discouraged when we don’t reach it. Our old habits kick in and we’re back where we started. So pick a small goal that you can accomplish now. (Ex. Rather than saying you’ll now only eat healthy food, try just adding a serving or fruit or vegetable a day. You can always do more later.) Not only will this build trust in yourself, it will also help create the positive habits necessary for permanent change.
2. Be specific
Lack of clarity breeds lack of focus. When we say things like, “I’m going to be more organized,” or “I’m going to read more,” we’re not creating the clear picture in our heads we need to work toward. If the goal really is to read more, be more specific to maintain the change. It should be something like, “I’m going to read 15 minutes a day.”
3. Create reminders
Whether it’s a picture of what you want to look like, motivational post-its around the house, or just a daily alarm on your phone, set up ways to keep your goals fresh in your mind. It’s very easy for us to fall back into our old routines, so it’s important we do all we can to help ourselves along.
4. Tell someone else
The motivation of accountability. Endless studies have been performed on the effects of simply having to tell someone else about our progress (or lack their of). Partners and communities can offer encouragement, support, and sometimes just a good ol’ dose of guilt that pushes us forward. Let someone else know what you’re doing, and maybe get him/her in on it, as well.
At the end of the day, just remember: it took your entire life to get you to where you are now. Don’t expect any major changes to happen overnight. By taking small, specific steps consistently, over time you may not even recognize the person you’ve become. It’s worth the effort. Enjoy the journey.