My father in law spent New Year’s Eve in Sydney. To my immeasurable jealousy, he sat at a water-front restaurant in Darling Harbour, right beside the Sydney Opera House, watching the fireworks display off the bridge. He had front row seats to one of the world’s most spectacular pyrotechnics shows.
In a period of 12 minutes, he told us over the phone, they let off some 20,000 separate effects. An incredible amount of energy in such a short period of time.
…and then, it was over.
It occurred to me that a great many of us carry out our New Year’s resolutions in pretty much the same way. Huge exertion. Spectacular display. BOOM! ‘ooooh! Aaaah!’ Then, one month later: fizz… No lasting results.
Here’s a better approach: Break it down into incremental steps. Don’t rev yourself up to a fever pitch and try to do it all in one go. Discipline and consistency always achieve more than sporadic bursts of passion.
For example, don’t set your heart on losing 15 kilograms. The number looks daunting. Instead, aim to lose 2 each month until you reach your ideal weight. Similarly, don’t ‘write a book.’ Instead, plan the writing of a book. And then set time frames for each chapter. Decide on how many words you’ll write each day, and make it manageable.
20 minutes of consistency each day outweighs 2 days of fireworks, and what’s more, it won’t exhaust you.
Two months later…
On average, we tend to lose heart with our goals about a month and a half to two months after setting them. That’s the time when you should reward yourself for the progress you have made, not castigate yourself for perceived shortcomings. And even if you’ve done nothing at all, and you start to feel bad about it, take the opportunity to congratulate yourself for the fact that you still care enough about those goals to feel anything at all for them. Then use that emotion.
Plan to take action. In another two months, you can congratulate yourself for real progress made, and by then, you’ll only be a few months into the year, with time ahead of you.
Well and truly stuck?
Then here is a technique you might want to try:
Review and refine:
Let’s say that you’ve hit an unforeseen stumbling block on your way to achieving that goal. That merely means that it has become time for a new orientation: Surmounting that particular obstacle has become your new goal. It may feel like a step backward, but the reality is that you are just beginning to negotiate the uncertain path toward your bigger goal. That’s fine. Slowly does it, but keep at it.
Write your goals down. Only 3 per cent of people worldwide actually do, and these people way, way out achieve the ones that don’t. Therein lays an opportunity for you. You can position yourself in the top 3 percentile of the world’s achievers for 2008, simply by writing your goals down.
Once your goals are on paper, they are on their way to becoming reality. Now find the first step and go for it! Good luck for 2014. Here’s to your New Year’s Resolutions, Round Two!
Douglas Kruger is a professional speaker and author who encourages people to think. He speaks on Expert Positioning and the misunderstood link between work and wealth. He is a 5x winner of the SA Championships for Public Speaking and the author of three books. See him in action or read more of his articles at www.douglaskruger.co.za. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter: @douglaskruger.