Presuming the world doesn’t end tomorrow,** you’ll want to be thinking about your resolutions for 2013. We talked earlier in the week about choosing your resolutions, so today I want to cover how to work toward accomplishing them.
1. Take small actions everyday toward your resolution. Most overnight success stories happen through regular, sustainable actions over a series of weeks, months, or even years. Stay consciously aware of what you want to accomplish, visualize and feel your success, and take small actions everyday to get there.
For example, if you want to write a novel, create a daily writing habit: write when you get up in the morning, or write everyday at lunch. Or don’t let yourself go to bed at night without writing your daily page or word goal. And it doesn’t take much to get a first draft. Say you want between 70,000 – 75,000 words (the recommended amount for a first-time novelist). That’s about 12,000 words a month for 6 months or about 400 words a day. That’s about 2 pages a day to finish a draft of your novel in 6 months.
Sometimes the daily action is more of an inaction: Not picking up the cigarette, the drink, the cookie (cookies are my Achilles heel!). And sometimes that’s a lot harder than taking action, but the result is the same: Small sustainable choices everyday will create your success.
2. Clear away your distractions. If you’re serious about your goals, you’ll remove whatever distractions are in your way. This means not buying soda or potato chips or whatever other food tempts you. This means turning off the TV if you haven’t written your pages for the day. This means getting to bed early enough to get up to work out in the morning.
If your loved ones are the distraction, that can be more difficult. The people who love us sometimes don’t show it in ways that support our highest and best good, and at that point it’s up to you to set boundaries.
Does your spouse always come in an interrupt you just when you’re sitting down to write? Bake a special treat for you after you lose 5 pounds? Plan a big evening out the night before you have a race?
You could spend a lifetime trying to figure out what motivates them to sabotage you, but it’s easier to modify your own behavior instead. It’s ultimately up to you to be true to yourself, and if that means going to the library to work, staying late at the office to work on your book, or politely turning down the treat, then that’s what you must do. You’re responsible for being kind and respectful to others, but you’re aren’t obligated to sabotage yourself to make them happy.
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3. Stay focused on what’s important. Just reminding yourself of your goal every morning before you start your day will go a long way toward keeping you focused. In many ways this is similar to the previous advice about taking small actions everyday, but this is more about mindset and mental focus. When confronted with a choice, take a moment to consider which decision will lead to the long-term result you want. Try to step away from reacting to a situation and instead consciously make self-aware, proactive choices. We do a lot of things habitually, and staying focused on alternative results will help us break those habits.
What steps do you take to accomplish your goals?
(also check out encouraging yourself to keep going)