Each day is an opportunity to start fresh but there is something cathartic about turning the page on the calendar and starting a new year. With that new beginning about half of us make resolutions, 80% of which, according to U.S. News & World Report, fail by February. Why is it so hard to work on the things we want to change about ourselves and how can we increase the odds of follow through?
Whether we are trying to be more active, stop procrastinating, communicate better, or develop stronger teams there are behaviors that have been formed around these areas of our lives. Self-improvement requires changing behaviors and, we all know, change can be hard. But if we dissect these behaviors and understand how we can form new ones, we can be successful.
Below are some steps we can take to achieve long-term results.
Be realistic. We all have things we can improve upon to become better versions of ourselves, whether personally or professionally, but we can’t change everything at once. Working on too many things at the same time can be overwhelming and cause us to revert to our old ways. Pick one goal as the focus and start there.
Be specific. When we choose something vague to work on, for example to become a better leader, it can be difficult to define what exactly we are looking to change. But by identifying an aspect of leadership we want to work on, such as team development or improved communication, actions can be better targeted to achieve the desired outcome.
Identify the triggers. If the goal is to stop procrastinating, determine the triggers that prompt us to put off certain tasks. Is it when the task is difficult, overwhelming, or a fear of failure? For example, knowing that difficult tasks overwhelm us, we can change the internal dialog that prevents us from starting and break down the tasks into smaller tasks to make it less overwhelming.
Increase your self-awareness. Often the behavior we wish to change is habitual and we don’t give it much thought. When we know our triggers, steps can be taken to detach ourselves and observe the action we wish to change from an objective point of view. Approaching change with that level of perspective helps increase our self-awareness so we can be deliberate in our actions.
Be patient. Change does not happen overnight. Small, incremental shifts in our behaviors can change patterns and are more sustainable.
Believe in yourself. When we believe that what we are trying to accomplish is within reach, it helps sustain the motivation necessary to fulfill the outcomes we want to achieve.
Expect setbacks. Setbacks will happen because life happens. When we view setbacks as part of the process rather than as a failure, we are less likely to give up.
Be consistent. When we find what works for us, we should do it again. And again. Repetition creates neuropathways, leading to habit formation. When habits form we don’t need to exert as much effort, letting us focus on other things.
Celebrate success. Results are motivating. We begin to shift psychologically and we see that our efforts are rewarded with, for example, higher productivity, stronger teams, or better collaborations. These rewards can inspire us to make the next change.
Taking these steps can translate to lasting results. The reason why most resolutions fail is because they take conscionable work that requires our focus and energy. It is easy to fall back on old habits when we are tired, stressed, or overwhelmed, which are bound to happen at some point. But when we are aware of how habits form and that almost any behavior can be modified, we can take deliberate steps to make lasting change.
Self-improvement doesn’t need to coincide with the start of a new year, or any date for that matter, although February 7th seems as good a time as any. If one of your goals for 2019 is to improve your leadership skills or cultivate talent within your teams, please join us on February 7th for our Tier 1 Leader Workshop.
If you are unable to join us for the workshop, please check out our Tier 1 Leader website to find out more about how to improve your leadership skills. Our experienced coaches can guide you in developing the focus, insight, and accountability you need to achieve the consistent results you expect. If you have the desire and willingness to discover your full potential and achieve lasting results, then this is for you! Achieve your goals faster and discover your purpose.