Some of us set goals. We determine how we want to change, or what we want to achieve, or how we’ll better ourselves or our lives – and we declare our resolutions. “From now on, I’ll run three times a week,” we announce. “I’m going to speak up in every meeting at work,” we proclaim, “and share ideas that will show my boss how much value I bring.”
We have the best intentions…and start out with passion and energy towards our goals…and then somewhere along the way, we lose steam. As I’ve shared in past posts, my gym is always crowded in early January. And then it goes back to normal, with the same people I’ve been seeing there for years, somewhere near February 1st.
So what would it take to be able to set goals and achieve them? To make new habits of the behaviors we think we should, or want to, adopt?
- Travel with friends – find someone who will take on a new behavior with you, or at least someone to whom you will be accountable.
- Stay connected to your why – if we have a compelling why for what we’re trying to do, we’re more likely to stay with our goal.
- Pick the right reward – I’m all about rewards. When we reward the behavior we want, even our own behavior, we’re more likely to get more of the behavior we want.
Three surefire ways to make a new habit stick that I’ve learned through my own goal-setting experiences, as well as through working with my clients are:
- Identify, and address, your inner resistance – often without knowing it, we have hidden (even to ourselves) beliefs or values that compete with the new habit we say we want to form. We may want to increase and protect our family time, but be afraid that our career will suffer if we’re not seen as completely available and indispensable at work. This underlying fear will prevent us from making time for our family…and most likely also from being our best at work. It’s imperative to uncover and address our inner resistance, or we’ll never move forward. Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, from Harvard Graduate School of Education, call this immunity to change, and recommend a process to work through it.
- Make sure you really want to achieve the goal, or start the new habit – often we decide to do something or change something because we think we should, or others recommend that we do. If we’re not taking on new behaviors that we believe in, we won’t move forward towards them.
- Hire a coach – this is not a sales job. The coach doesn’t have to be me (or even anyone else on my team). But a coach is a great accountability partner, and a coach can help you identify however you, or anyone or anything else, might be in your way, and a coach can help you find the best ways around – or through – your obstacles. A coach can help you leap fearlessly towards your goals. Often my clients will do the things they’ve promised to do just before speaking with me, simply because they don’t want to admit to me that they didn’t do them. Who cares why they do it? It still gets done.
Many, many, many personal and professional goals and new habits fall by the wayside. All the time. But it’s possible to arm ourselves to take on new habits and make them new habits. And to achieve what we want.
How do you stay true to your goals? How do you make new habits stick?
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For support in transforming your goals into habits, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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