2 Steps to a Better Resolution
When is the last time you actually stuck to a New Year's Resolution?
If you’re like me, the answer is, not even once.
Whether it be meditate or exercise daily, the initial desire to hold myself to these new demands would undoubtedly fade.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m Stubborn, and would stick with it for a few weeks, only to get super annoyed when the motivation had worn off.
I realize now, if my goal was actual change, I was going about it all wrong.
As you may have heard, will power is like a muscle, and just like any other muscle, it gets fatigued.
And I was wearing mine out because every day I would have to talk myself into doing it all over again.
Can you relate?
So, if your goal is to actually to stick with and accomplish these resolutions, how can you go about it in a more realistic way?
James Clear, a seasoned entrepreneur who writes frequently about habits, claims there are 2 steps to do this in a sustainable way:
Step 1: Decide the type of person you want to be.
Step 2: Prove it to yourself with small wins.
He adds, “I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to start with incredibly small steps. The goal is not to achieve results at first, the goal is to become the type of person who can achieve those things.”
Step 1: "Decide the type of person you want to be."
It seems to achieve your goals in life and business, Step 1 is all about Mindset.
Let's go back to my previous example of meditation.
In order to start to identify with a person who meditates, I might ask myself some questions, such as:
Why did I choose meditation as a goal?
When I think about a person who meditates:
How do they show up in the world?
- How do they go about their day?
What is it about them that I want to identify with, and currently don't?
Most importantly, Why is that important to me?
Perhaps I imagine a person who meditates as calm, wise, patient, focused and grounded – ALL traits I desire – which may be why I chose meditation as my goal in the first place.
Starting with why is essential if you actually want to keep up this new resolution.
If you realize you want to meditate or run or start a business for reasons that aren’t true to you, it’s inevitably going to fizzle out.
Another example closer to home for us entreprenuers:
How does a successful business owner show up in the world?
How is that different from what I’m doing now?
When you connect the resolution with the identity you desire – how you ultimately want show up in the world – it’s much easier to implement the change.
The decision to take the action then becomes who you ultimately want to be or become, versus a lemme-check-this-off-my-to-do list type of unsustainable, superficial task – which resolutions often are.
Also the, Who you want to become is a heart- or gut-based decision – more aligned with core values – versus a head-based decision, which could be driven by ego.
Which do you think would have the best chance of long term success?
On the practical side of this, I love the idea of not only writing down your goals, but creating a visual of what the desired identity looks like to you.
Put the visual somewhere you can see and reference often. It doesn’t have to resonate to anyone but you!
Bonus points if you claim your resolution by saying, “I want to meditate/run/be a successful business owner” versus, “I need to," or "I have to.”
Feel the difference?
Step 2: A Little Goes a Long Way
The second key component to consider here, is the bite-sized-ness of it all.
Let’s be honest, if you bite off more than you can chew, the more likely you will start to resent your decision – which means avoidance, sabotage and resistance are gonna show up in full force.
So in order to avoid that mess, and to truly work in the spirit of long-term success, start with something ridiculously small, that is a no-brainer for you.
For example, try meditating for 5 minutes a day.
If you feel resistance, try meditating for 90 seconds.
Keep lowering the entry point until it becomes a, “Duh. I can definitely do 90 seconds!”
Slow, incremental, consistent change will serve you better in the long run, versus super-productive action spurts that end abruptly when your willpower runs out.
For example, I despise running and consider it on the same level as doing dishes (necessary AND never-gonna-like-it).
That means some days, running to the end of the street and back is my exercise for the day.
But hey, improving even 1% a day is better than sitting still – amiright?
By participating in a micro-habit or action – like running to the end of the street and back – I am rewarded in two ways:
Starting my day with the accomplishment of doing something that I’ve said I was going to do and
The surge of energy that comes from doing any amount of exercise (no matter how short-lived or annoying it was to initially go out in the cold)
When I go for a run, or do anything productive or creative for that matter, I feel so much resistance before and during that I repeat quietly in my head: “I am running,” or “I am a runner,” or “I accept that I am running.”
If you're like me and have massive amounts of resistance, I have found this allows the subconscious mind to “catch up” to what I’ve already decided consciously.
It seems silly, but what really drains our energy is resisting what is actually happening, especially when it’s something we know we need to do!
Also, with the start of any new habit, expect a tidal wave of excuses (oh hey resistance) to flood your brain for reasons you cannot do the thing.
I don’t even have the right _____ . (Pants, shoes, socks, hair-tie or Fitbit.)
Or, It’s ______. (Too hot, too cold, too humid or not humid enough.)
Or this sneaky one, Julio is literally an Iron Man and probably ran 20K this morning – why should I even bother?
This is Resistance rearing its ugly head, and it will take you down if you let it!
Despite the noise, put on whatever shoes and clothes you have, even if it’s your pajamas, and say to yourself: “I am going on a run, damn-it, I’m going on a run.”
You’re showing yourself you CAN and WILL in-fact keep promises to yourself – no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.
In the long term, by slowly building trust in yourself, you can guarantee these micro-actions will snowball and start a ripple effect of positive impact in your life and business.
But don’t worry about that now!
Give yourself a high-five for showing up and taking small, consistent action towards becoming a version of you that totally does these things!