My dear friend and colleague Karen VanCleve wrote a great article in her ezine, The Spark, this month. It might help you figure out what is getting in the way of keeping those resolutions.
Avoid the Four Biggest Blocks To Your Success In 2008
Are you a “resolutionist?” My definition of a “resolutionist” is someone who sets resolutions for the new year and begins in a burst of energy and enthusiasm, but then fades by February. Or maybe after too many years of being a “resolutionist,” you said “why bother” and now you’ve just settled into a comfortable rut. If either of those examples describes you, here are some tips to avoid the biggest traps that get in the way of achieving any important goal. And “resolutionists,” in their zealous approach to their goals, often overlook the importance of addressing these points. So think about some outcome you would LOVE to create in 2008. What would make the year magnificent for you? In working with people as a coach over the last few years, I find that there are four key stumbling blocks that keep people from having what they want:
Block #1 – Not clearly identifying what you want in life. There’s a great line in a song, “if you don’t care where you’re going, any road will get you there.” It seems like the “easy” way to go through life: just see where you end up. But I’ve never known anyone to follow the “easy” road and end up in a wonderful, fulfilling place. If I can encourage you to do one thing it is to identify what you want – for yourself, for the people you love, for the world – and make a clear statement to yourself about that intention. What will be different in your life (and the lives of others) when you make that intention happen? Imagine that it’s the end of 2008 and you have accomplished what you wanted – how would you feel? Write all of your ideas down in as much detail as possible. Read it often throughout the year to keep that passion alive.
Block #2. Not identifying the path, even just the major milestones, that lead to the ultimate destination. If you don’t know precisely how to reach that destination, just identify even the basic starting steps to get clarity. As you have more information and more clarity, you can fill in more of the path. Often people think too far down the road, and become intimidated by what they think it will take to complete the journey. Keep the steps simple, keep them in perspective, and write them down. “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” All you really need is one step at a time.
Block #3. “Driving with the brake on.” This is a metaphor for using willpower and force to overcome skeptical self-talk and resistance to change. If you don’t believe fully that you are capable, empowered, deserving, and destined for your ultimate future, no amount of dreaming will make you take action. Focus fully on why your goal is important and what you need to do next, rather than what could go wrong and why you can’t do it. Remind yourself of your successes, your strengths and talents, your resilience. If you focus on past failures, you’ll guaranteed to create new ones!
Block #4. Lack of an environment to take consistent action for change. New Years Resolutions are a perfect example of how NOT to pursue your dreams: use willpower to take huge action week one, some action week two, a little action week three, and put the resolution away until next year in week four. If you have an environment that supports you in taking strong, consistent action, it won’t be an exercise in willpower to keep your momentum. Create calendar entries daily for time to support your goal, keep steps 1 – 3 above in front of you, get a support team, create a compelling reward for following through and a painful penalty for not following through (Make the rewards and penalties based on your actions, so even if you’re not getting the results you want yet, you’re still experiencing “success.”). The key here is to have many environmental triggers to support you.
You are capable of amazing things! Every day in working with people I see the power of believing in yourself and believing in your goals. Look back at some of the amazing accomplishments you have already reached! Greatness is within you – sometimes it’s just hiding behind a handful of big blocks to your success.
I like that Karen outlined the four blocks to success for the New Year. I would also suggest not to make resolutions you don’t plan on keeping. If you are not making a plan and setting goals that will support achieving your resolutions, chances are you won’t make it past the first few days (maybe weeks if you are lucky). Resolutions are simply fancy goals! Don’t let them fool you. It still takes commitment, a plan and a strong desire to accomplish your goal. Resolutions don’t just happen, you make them happen.