It’s the last week of January, challengers, and I’m wondering how those new year’s resolutions are holding up? Are you still in momentum or have you already forgotten why you had made those goals in the first place? Have you … given up convincing yourself that change is what you need, because life is too complicated right now?
Well, if you’ve abandoned those goals, you aren’t alone. Change is challenging and what the research shows is that most of us will abandon our new year’s resolutions – if we even make them – by the second week in January. In fact, a study by the University of Scranton found that 66% of us do just that!
What makes it even more difficult is that we live in a culture that thrives on other people capturing our attention and keeping it firmly focused on their agenda not ours! We are hardwired to be attracted to juicy headlines and bad behavior. Since we are prone to become easily distracted when the drum beats, it makes it that much harder for us to generate the focus, discipline and consistency we need to be successful.
What do we do when you and I are hardwired for distraction?
A couple of weeks ago, my daughter competed at a taekwondo tournament. The spectators, noise, traffic flow, conversations, cameras, judges, competitors, six separate competition rings running simultaneously, bathroom lines, kids playing, competitors warming up, tournament organizers, announcements, sales booths, food stands, judges, tech glitches, pace of the competition, coaches and the actual competition, itself, ALL vie for your attention.
Isn’t it true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease? In other words, the loudest and the juiciest trigger grabs your attention! And sometimes, that loud voice isn’t the call to watch your child’s competition, but rather, another parent yelling about their child’s outcome.
If we aren’t careful about ownership of our attention, we can miss out not only on accomplishing our goals, but on important moments that matter to us.
Now at this particular competition, the pace was slooow! We arrived at 8am, but our daughter’s division didn’t start until 2pm.
The long wait felt a lot like the wait we have when we work on a long-term goal:
- We do our work and then wait.
- We do some more work, attain a benchmark, respond to feedback, and then wait.
- We may encounter some obstacles, overcome them, and then wait some more.
This process continues until finally, after what seems like hell freezing over, we’ve achieved our goal or we have had to modify our approach based on feedback, yet again.
A lot of us can become discouraged by setbacks or by the pace of results, and when that happens, we can throw up our hands and say,”I’ve had it. Enough! I quit.”
When you get discouraged, whether it is from lack of results or the pace of results, do you throw up your hands and abandon your goals?
After five hours of waiting, our daughter was tired, impatient and ready to talk with her friends — all of whom were commiserating about the situation on the ground. From where I sat, she began to forget why she was there in the first place. Her focus wasn’t on preparation and execution, her focus was on her frustration with the pace, the noise, the people and her desire to be free!
You get what you focus on!A challenger said this
I couldn’t just stand by and watch, so I headed down to the floor and called her over.
“Hey my daughter, what’s going on?”
“Mom, we don’t even know when we are going to compete. It could be another hour. “
“Can I ask you a question?”
She rolled her eyes, but then nodded.
“I noticed that you are starting to lose your focus. Let me ask you a question, when is the competition over?”
And that was when the light bulb turned on.
“When I finish performing my form.”
“Exactly. The moment you got here this morning, you started competing. When you finish your form and step off that mat, go crazy, chat with your friends, do whatever – because you did what you set out to do. The competition isn’t just your performance in front of the judges – it’s everything that leads up to it.”
That little chat changed the game. She recommitted to her preparation and she remembered why she was there in the first place.
Our daughter went on to achieve a second place finish in her first poomsae competition as a junior. But more importantly, she performed her best form, yet.
The upshot is this:
When you take back control of your attention and then focus on the people, places and things that matter most to you, you are living your agenda not someone else’s directive.
Top 5 Tips to Keep You on Track
- Strategically remind yourself of why it matters – You and I don’t need reminders when we are rested, in momentum, aren’t handling obstacles and knocking it out of the park! We need reminders when we get tired, when we are juggling multiple priorities and when we are challenged. Think about when you might need a timely reminder to keep going and schedule an alarm ahead of time.That reminder just might save you from a costly mistake or a disappointing performance.
- Break the goal down into daily tasks – Smaller actions lower the energy needed to achieve them AND lowers the pressure you feel to accomplish them. Ask yourself, “How can I break it down into achievable steps?” When you do, schedule those tasks like appointments in your calendar.
- Remind yourself why the goal is important to you – DAILY – When you remind yourself, daily, you keep yourself motivated and focused on how to get that goal.
- Celebrate each win no matter how small – Celebrating wins and feeling the pride and satisfaction of completing a task makes it more likely that we will want to do it again. Obvious, right? However, you and I tend to skip over this part, thinking it’s not that important. Research shows that when you and I take the time to celebrate a win, it reduces stress by closing the task out in our brains. No celebration and all of that tension gets transferred to the next goal. So pat yourself on the back, you deserve to start your next goal free from stress!
- Remind yourself that setbacks are temporary – When you experience a setback, don’t let it get you down. It’s not proof that you must abandon this goal. Expect setbacks and recognize that they are temporary. If your dreams are worth it, you will find a solution. When you don’t quit, you are more likely to win. 🙂
By using these five tips, your goals and resolutions have a higher chance of becoming reality. But not only that, you also get the pride and satisfaction of setting goals and achieving them. Doesn’t that build trust…in yourself?
To sum up this post: YOU are the type of person who sets goals and achieves them no matter what obstacles you face.
If you feel that you need help with developing a better mindset and/or better habits, please click here to Learn more about coaching. I take on a few new clients each year. Let’s explore working together.
Thank you so much for reading and until next time, make the most out of the time you have!
With love and respect,