Do you struggle to get New Year resolutions off of the ground?
Hate the whole New Year - New You thing? ugh
But it’s not because I don’t want to make changes in my life. Hell, it is human to want to grow and learn and extend ourselves beyond what we previously thought capable.
It is human to want more from our lives and ourselves. After all, this is really what evolution is - we’d still all be sitting around with dinosaurs if the earth hadn’t changed and grown.
But the thing that stops most people from taking any action at all - no matter how much they want it, is because the big goal seems so far away and the massive change that is needed to get there is such a stretch, that it all feels way too hard and scary.
Over and over again, we say to ourselves - I’m going to get healthy this year - that’s it, no sugar, no alcohol, no coffee, I’m going to run for 30 minutes every morning and get up an hour earlier for stretching and meditation…. So a complete change of lifestyle decision made in one moment that we implement for one day, then our brain begins to resist us.
“One coffee won’t hurt. I was so good yesterday so today I’ll reward myself with a muffin. It’s been a hard week I deserve a glass of wine. I didn’t sleep last night so I can’t get out of bed early or I’ll be too tired.” So on and so forth, the resistance to change gets stronger and stronger.
It’s not because you are hopeless, weak or useless. It is not because you are a failure, or not good enough, or lazy and pathetic.
It is because you are trying to change too much at once and take a giant leap forward - and it is not easy to do that at all.
“You have to learn to walk before you can run.” Anon
But you can make it easy.
You can make it easy by looking at what your path of least resistance will be first.
For example: If you want to begin to exercise, then your path of least resistance may be to put on your sneakers as soon as you get home from work. First day done. Success. WooHoo!!
Then the next day you might feel a bit silly just putting on your sneakers, so ask yourself - what is the next step I need to take toward doing more exercise? If there is no resistance to the next step, then you might add: put on your gym shorts and top. Yay!! Success for another day!!
Then the next day, again you put on your sneakers and gym shorts and top, and ask yourself - what is the next step I need to take toward doing more exercise? If there’s no resistance, then add getting your iPod and house keys. Legend! You rock!! Third day done!
Now you might feel pretty silly doing this again, so the next day you might add walking around the block once. Then the next day make it longer, and then longer, until you have habituated the process and make ‘next steps’ every single day.
But THE KEY is taking that first step and repeating it daily - no matter what. Without the habituated sneakers on EVERY DAY, and asking yourself "what is the next step I need to take toward my goal?" then the rest wouldn’t happen. You are building up the habit of daily exercise without even getting to the exercise bit. But by the time you do get to the exercise bit, it is already a habit.
It does not matter if you end up on one step for a week or more, because you are still building habit. The next step of least resistance will find its moment to come forward and be done.
What we are aiming for is a natural flow of growth and steps toward your goal, making it so that the next step that needs to be taken every time is painless and contains a very small amount of resistance.
Applying this to a business growth context may involve writing a pitch email every day at the same time, until you feel so ridiculous doing the same thing every day that you just press send. Job done. Then as it gets easier and easier, every day you will write that email and press send without resistance.
Or making a phone call - same applies. Writing and publishing a blog post - how many can you have in your drafts until you click Publish??
The trick is in the 100% commitment to taking A STEP (even if it is the baby ones) every day. If you did this every day for 100 days - imagine how much of a habit it will be to do exercise.
By habitually and slowly integrating changes into your life, imagine how much you would have achieved after a year if you take one baby step a day??? A lot more than you ever would have achieved by giving up on doing one massive goal at the beginning of the year.
Our failure is not that we didn’t have enough courage to stick it out and tackle the big goal head on - the failure is that we took the wrong approach to it from the beginning.
What goal do you want to achieve this year - and what is the first step of least resistance you can take today toward making your success a habit?