Where are you headed?

It’s the last week of January, y’all, 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 just too busy or too hard 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 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! So if we are prone to become easily distracted from our goals when the drum beats, it makes it that much harder to generate the focus, discipline and consistency necessary to be successful. The question ISN’T how do we develop more will power?

The question is how can we manage the challenges of goal attainment successfully when the odds and our biology are stacked against us?

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter was competing at a taekwondo tournament. Now if you have ever been to a sporting event – amatuer or professional – you know that there is a lot going on to capture our attention. There are 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 you are there to watch – whew! – ALL competing for your attention.

Isn’t it true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease? In other words, the loudest and the juiciest grab your attention!  And sometimes, that loud voice isn’t the call to watch your child’s competition, but rather, another parent yelling about the 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.

How do you handle impatience?

Now at this competition, the pace was slooow! We arrived at 8am, but Sophia didn’t actually begin her competition until 2pm. There were a lot of legitimate reasons why the pace was slow, but that really isn’t why I brought it up.

The long wait felt a lot like the wait we feel when working on a particular goal. We do our work and then wait. We do some more work and then wait. We may encounter some obstacles, overcome them, and then wait some more. This process continues until finally, after the long haul, we’ve achieved our goal or we have modified 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 “F – it!” Translation: “I’ve had it. Enough! I quit.”

Let me ask you this: 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?

By 12:30pm, Sophia was tired, impatient and ready to talk with her friends, all of whom agreed that the wait was ridiculous, so they might as well blow off some steam. From what I could see, she was starting to forget why she was there in the first place. Her focus wasn’t on preparation and execution, because she wanted to do her best; her focus was on her frustration with the pace, the noise, the people and her desire to be free! 

How are you going to remind yourself to recommit to the reasons why you chose that goal in the first place?

So I headed down to the floor and called her over. I asked, “What’s going on?”

“Mom, we don’t even know when we are going to compete. It could be another hour! I can’t believe this is so slow and they only have one ring running!”

“Sophia, let me ask you a question?”

“I noticed that you were starting to lose your focus and to chat with your friends when you need to stay focused, stay warm and practice. My question is, When is the competition over?”

And that was when the light bulb turned on.

“When I finish performing Koreyo.”

“Exactly. The moment you got here you started competing. When you step off that mat, after you’ve performed, go crazy, chat with your friends, do whatever – because you did what you set out to do – and that was to do your best. The competition isn’t just your performance in front of the judges – it’s everything that leads up to it, too! Understand?”

That little chat changed the game. She recommitted to her preparation and she remembered why she was there in the first place.

Sophia went on to achieve a second place finish in her first competition as a junior. But more importantly, she performed her best Koreyo, yet. (Koreyo is a form or poomsae that is an important and highly regarded exercise to demonstrate flexibility, technique, power, skill and grace.)

She made her goal, because she was reminded of it at the right time. 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 Help You Keep Your Resolutions

  1. 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, when we are challenged! So 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!
  2. Break the goal down into daily tasks – Smaller actions lower the energy needed to achieve them and lowers the pressure we feel to accomplish them! So take a look at your goals and ask, “How can I break them down into achievable steps?” When you do, schedule those tasks like appointments in your calendar!
  3. Keep revisiting why the goal is important to you in the first place – When you remind yourself, daily, of why you wanted that goal, you remember why it is important to you. When you do that, you are more likely to achieve the goal.
  4. Celebrate each win no matter how small – We are pretty simple human animals, sometimes. Celebrating wins and feeling the pride and satisfaction of completing a task makes it more likely that we want to continue doing that task. So pat yourself on the back, as it not only feels great, but increases your motivation to want to do it again!
  5. Remember, setbacks are temporary – When you experience a setback, don’t believe that it is proof that you must abandon this goal. Rather, 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 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. In other words, you are becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be and I want that for you!

To sum up this post: Keeping your resolutions on track is a great way to set the foundation of knowing that YOU are the type of person who sets goals and achieves them no matter the obstacle in this new decade!

Challenge Yourself, Change Your Possibilities

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Thank you so much for reading and until next time, make the most out of the time you have!

With love and respect,