When I was a kid, I bit my nails. I’m not sure if I did it because I was nervous, or perhaps just bored. My parents tried for a long time to get me to stop. It wasn’t until my mom told me I could finally get my ears pierced, something I desperately wanted to do at the time, that I was truly motivated to break that habit once and for all.
As that young third grader, I realized an important lesson about both self-motivation and self-control. I also learned I was a pretty stubborn kid; someone telling me to start or stop doing something wasn’t enough to make it happen. I needed the inner motivation to be ready to commit to that change. Once I did, I would go all in.
That works for breaking habits, and for creating them too.
At the start of 2017, I asked every person on my team to pick “one thing.” The point was to have each team member select something he or she would be motivated by. Something that would connect them to the team or the company in a way that was impactful not just to the business, but would have them ending the year by saying, “Wow, I accomplished that!” A personal stretch goal above and beyond the daily work, if you will.
I did not care what they chose; if it was meaningful to them that was what was important to me. However, more interesting than the goal has been watching who has gone after it and who hasn’t.
There will be no penalty for not. Because whatever they selected was not a team goal or a key business driver, the only one they will let down if they fail to accomplish their “one thing” is themselves. However, for those who are truly committed and choose to make a “habit” out of their goal, they will likely not just accomplish it; they will have learned and thrived in the process.
Got something you’d like to commit to but don’t know how to go after it? It’s all about commitment and discipline. If you are truly motivated to accomplish something, you can. Just create a “habit.”
PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER
Remember that holiday classic animated movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town? I chuckle when I see it each December, because it looks so exceptionally outdated in today’s world. One of the messages in it, however, is timeless. In this case, it’s Kris Kringle trying to help the Winter Warlock become a better person. For the rest of us, the message is a simple one: the journey to accomplishing anything starts with a first step.
I WANNA BE LIKE MIKE
“I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat.” - Michael Jordan
Took that first step? Now what? While most of the millennial population looks to LeBron James as one of the best basketball players ever to play the game, my go to role model on the court has always been Michael Jordan. He was extraordinarily talented, but it sure didn’t come easy. Though he went on to win six championships with the Chicago Bulls, he started his career by not being selected for his varsity high school team. How does one stay motivated after a setback like that? He dug deep and used the embarrassment as motivation. He practiced. Every single day. No “I’m tired” or “my muscles hurt” excuses. He determined what was important to him and he turned that practice into a habit that seriously paid off.
DO A GUT CHECK
You’ve defined it. You’ve written it down. Maybe you’ve even broken your goal into bite size pieces so it feels a little more achievable. What’s typically the biggest thing that’s going to get in your way? YOU.
You need to determine how bad you want it. If you aren’t willing to look in the mirror every day and hold yourself accountable, the chances of your success are seriously diminished. Of course hard work – think aptitude and skill building – play a role in achieving what you want. However, never underestimate the power of the head game. Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote about the 10,000 Hour Rule in his book Outliers. Perhaps you aren’t trying to achieve true mastery, and 10,000 hours is just an insane concept to you. The basic premise still applies. As Macklemore puts it in a lyric, “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint. They greats were great because they paint a lot.” And while practice doesn’t necessarily make everything perfect, any ability you have will benefit from that commitment to getting better.
We are nearly three months into the new year, and research has shown only a small portion of people actually achieve the resolutions they made for themselves. Whether you’ve identified your “one thing,” created a resolution, or just plain have a goal you’d like to accomplish, check in with yourself. Do you even remember what it was? Have you made any progress? Are you making excuses for why you haven’t? It’s this simple: if it’s important to you, dig deep. Of course it’s going to be hard work. And yet it’s important to you, you’ll likely find it well worth the effort.