Each new year the resolutions fly…we promise to lose weight, eat better, work harder, read more, you name it. Now that we’re at the end of January, it’s time to take stock of our goals and re-commit to them.
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once spoke about the snooze button, and how it was really superfluous. “When that alarm goes off, get up! You made the decision to get up at that time when you set the alarm, don’t re-make that decision.” That advice is the same for goal setting, and commitment to achieving them. You made the decision to strive for a goal when you set it, don’t second guess yourself before you get there.
The common joke about the empty gym in December being full in January then empty again by February is funny because it’s true. People really do run out of steam during the “dark ages” in winter. It’s difficult for busy people to remain committed to goals when so many things are working against them psychologically and practically: short days, cold weather, busy work, school, family commitments, etc. So do we just surrender to the winter and wait again until next year? No way!
That’s not what leaders do.
Leaders re-commit themselves to their goals, and don’t let temporary failures become permanent habits. It’s not easy to overcome the inertia we build up that prevents us from achieving our goals, but it’s worth the effort to push through. I recommend a three step process for getting back on, or staying on, track to achieving the goals I’ve set for myself:
1. Write It Down.
Putting something in writing, even if it’s just on an index card. Wherever you write the goal, it has to be visible and something you see often. It’s much harder to blow off a goal if it’s always “right there.” I write my goals on an index card and keep them in the journal I use every day to take notes at meetings. That ensures I see it daily and remember I made the decision to achieve it when I wrote it down in the first place. By the way, the same is true for organizations: once you set a goal, put it on the wall for all to see.
2. Take Stock Regularly.
Once the goal is on the index card (or the wall!), take stock regularly on your progress. Be honest with yourself on how you’re doing, and then recommit yourself to the goal. If you’re doing well, be proud of yourself and your team, celebrate a little and keep moving toward the goal. If you’re off track, don’t lose heart! Just remember why you set the goal in the first place and re-commit to getting to the finish line. If you made a New Year Resolution, don’t get down…you still have 11 months to go!
3. Make A Plan & Stick to It
Commitment is important to achieving goals, but you can’t be “all thrust and no vector.” Energy will only carry you and your team so far if you don’t have a plan. Not having a plan is probably the biggest reason people don’t reach their goals. Just like being on the wrong trail won’t get you to Maunawili Falls no matter how long you hike, expending all your energy on something that doesn’t help you reach your goals will ensure you don’t achieve what you set out to achieve. Don’t give up, just make a plan then execute it one step at a time!
Just like setting that alarm clock, you made the decision to reach a goal when you set it. Don’t let the winter blues get you off track from being the person you want to become!