Today is the day that many of us put our Christmas jumpers away and drag ourselves bleary-eyed back into the office. It’s a new year, time for a fresh start and a whole 52 weeks of opportunities lie ahead of you.
But are you feeling energised and excited? Or deflated and disappointed? If you didn’t achieve what you hoped in 2018 then you’ll need to do something different. As Einstein said “The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result”
But despite these wise words, that’s exactly what many of us keep doing.
The Biggest Cause Of Failure
Most people start the year right. You’ve got your goals, you know what you need to do to achieve them and you do it. For a week or two. But then something happens, you’re tired, the kids are sick, you’re busy, your clients need you or you just run out of steam. Life gets in the way.
That’s when things start to slip. Skipping the gym once becomes twice, then before you know it it’s February and you’ve not seen a barbell in over a fortnight.
Most people fail, not because they are doing the wrong thing, but because they are not doing the right things consistently.
Now I’m not blaming you. I know you are trying your hardest. So what can you do to get better results?
The Power Of Habit
Doing something consistently requires willpower. But we only have a limited amount of willpower to use each day. If you’re tired, stressed, malnourished or under pressure then this willpower decreases, leaving you even more susceptible to being led astray.
But the need for willpower disappears when a behaviour becomes a habit. We no longer have to think about it. There’s no debating doing it. We just get it done, effortlessly and without fail. It becomes easier to do the behaviour than it is to NOT do it. That’s when you know a habit has really stuck and that’s where the magic happens.
Could you imagine how easy it would be if you wanted to go on that early morning run each day? If you preferred to keep your inbox clear and felt compelled to do so? Or if you couldn’t go to bed each night without planning the following day and checking in on your goal progress?
Small habits get big results. In fact I’d go as far as to say that habits really are the key to success.
You’re Creating Habits All The Time
Creating a new habit is simple. All you need is a trigger, a behaviour and some repetition. But if you want to achieve success then you need to be certain you are creating the right habits.
You might have a habit of checking your Facebook every time you log on to your laptop. You probably never meant to make this a habit. You just did it once. Then again and again until now you feel compelled to check your notifications every time you sit down in front of your computer. It’s not a helpful habit. It wastes your time and detracts your attention from what you should really be doing. But it’s a habit all the same. Until you change it.
There’s a bit of debate around how long it takes to create a new habit but in general 21 days should do the trick if you’re doing it right.
Triggers Are The Key To Success
There’s more to creating habits than just repeating a behaviour every day for 21 days. If you want it to really stick and become automatic then you have to have a trigger.
A trigger is something that happens every day that you can use as the signal to your brain that it’s time to do your habit now.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say you want to create a new habit of drinking more water. Pretty much everyone could benefit from this. More energy, better health, fewer wrinkles…
So the behaviour you want to make a habit is drinking a pint of water every morning. Simple.
But you need a trigger.
A good trigger for this would be brushing your teeth. It’s something you do effortlessly, every day without fail.
So to create your new habit, you would brush your teeth, then IMMEDIATELY get yourself a glass of water and drink it. Do this every day for 21 days.
By the end of the 21 days brushing your teeth has become the trigger for getting a glass of water. You no longer have to think about it. You just do it on autopilot. Every time you brush your teeth you find yourself drinking a glass of water because your trigger has been actioned.
So now you know how to create a habit, how do you decide which habits you should be creating? It all comes down to your goals.
How Clear Are Your Goals?
If you’ve followed me for any amount of time you’ll know that I am big on goal setting. If you don’t know what you want to achieve then you’re never going to get it.
There’s no shortage of advice out there on goal setting. I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching, trying and testing many of the strategies out there. For me, the Full Focus Planner is the way forward. If you’ve not seen it before then you can check it out here. I’m not affiliated with them and I don’t get any kickbacks on their sales. I just really love their system and the planner.
If you’re already crystal clear on your goals then it’s time to choose your habits.
A Little Challenge For You
What’s the single biggest thing you could do each day that would move you closest to your big goals for 2019? Is it getting up an hour earlier? Running 5k each morning? Or making 5 sales calls each afternoon?
Whatever it is, I challenge you to make it a habit now. Choose the behaviour, define a trigger then repeat the action every day for 21 days and see what changes in your life…