Whether your resolutions apply to your personal life—being healthier, saving more, reducing stress—or your business life—raising revenue, building a stronger team, increasing customer satisfaction—it’s what happens after you make your resolution that dictates your success.
While resolutions are an honorable pursuit, they aren’t typically a successful one: According to StatisticBrain, 42% of people who make resolutions say they never keep them and only 9% report feeling successful in honoring their resolutions. The good news is that commitment, resilience and grit are muscles that absolutely can be trained and strengthened.
To help you get in to that 9% (and hopefully grow that number for all Americans), I’m sharing five of the most powerful mindset shifts and practical tools that I teach to my coaching clients who are seeking to make meaningful changes in their life and work.
- Imagine the Rewards (and Don’t Dwell on the Difficulties)
Our brains are wired to scan for problems, so too often we focus on the immediate negatives–how much easier it would be to pick up a burger, fries and milkshake than to cook, or hire someone who’s only an OK fit for the sake of having a warm body in the position now. Instead, spend time contemplating how good you’ll feel in just a short time from now, after you’ve eaten the healthy meal and don’t feel disgustingly full, or you’ve found a great new hire who rounds out your team perfectly. Let the big-picture benefits you’re seeking compel you forward over any short-term obstacles.
- Monitor Your Progress
What you pay attention tends to improve. So whatever change you’re seeking to create, start tracking it. It can be high-tech—there are many gadgets that count your steps and/or monitor your sleep—or old-fashioned—a set of tally marks for every resume you send out, or a pen-and-paper food diary. It’s not how you collect the information that matters, it’s the chance to get an objective look at your progress that will inspire you to keep going.
- Refuse to Buy in to the Myth of Fast Results
You’ve got to manage your own expectations around how long something “should” take. Otherwise, you’ll lose steam when you don’t see immediate results. Worse, you won’t see your small victories as victories, simply because they don’t seem final enough. Let it take as long as it takes. When you’ve lost the weight, or established the new habit, it won’t matter how long it took. It will only matter that you did it.
- Feel the Resistance and Do It Anyway
Your ego hates change—it lives to keep you safe, and so it loves the status quo. In what’s known as resistance, the ego will try to convince you (via your inner dialogue) that your goal is too hard or unrealistic. Once you know resistance is just your ego talking—the equivalent of that one family member or employee who dismisses every new idea—you can give those thoughts less credence. Tell that inner critic voice, “Thanks for your concern, but I’ve got this,” and then get back to doing what you know will bring you closer to your goal.
- Get Better at Starting Again
No matter how strong your commitment is, there will be times when you will fall off the wagon. What some might label failure is actually a beautiful opportunity to be gentle with yourself—no internal tongue-lashings!—and just get started again. It’s as simple as that. Getting back on track is one of the most important skills you can cultivate, so welcome any chance you get to hone it.