Have you slacked off on your New Year goals? Discover how the wisdom of the ancients can help you refocus and get back on track.
Get your New Year goals back on track
How’s your year going? Are you on track in achieving your goals or have you slacked off? If you answered the latter, you’re not alone. Need some inspiration? Let’s use the wisdom of the ancients to help you refocus, retool, and get back on track. Read on to see why it’s not too late to achieve those New Year goals.
Let’s take inspiration from 3 ancient Greek philosophers.
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” ~ Plato
The New Year is passing quickly. Many have, unfortunately, succumbed to the belief that they’ve failed at their new year goals. Many have just given up. Some, never even started!
Dates like January 1 serve as an effective anchor to initiate a new habit or behavior. On the other hand, “missing” that date can also serve as a negative reinforcer, and we give up or quit.
We often fail to realize one of the formulas for success in achieving New Year goals: “double your rate of failure.” (1) Failing is indicative of trying. As long as you continue to “fail” and/or try, your odds of succeeding are still extremely high.
For example, if one of your New Year goals was to work out 3 times a week and you struggled with that in January, don’t just give up. Instead, thoroughly re-evaluate your methods of attainment. Maybe weekdays aren’t viable, due to scheduling conflicts. Or vice versa for weekends. Evenings may not work, so morning may be better, etc.
Adjust your schedule to fit your goals rather than adjust your goals to fit your schedule
Just get started. Keep in mind that it may take several attempts before you find what works. Keep going. It’s key, if you wish to achieve the results you desire. Transform the beginnings of the process into opportunities for growth rather than perceived failures.
Most people quit at one, or maybe two attempts at goal achievement, and then give up. We’ve been taught to avoid failure like the plague. Keep that in mind as you retool and reframe these struggles. In turn, you’re beginning “failures” actually turn into your most powerful tools for growth and goal achievement.
It takes work
“Learning is not child’s play. We cannot learn without pain.” ~ Socrates
Many individuals don’t like to experience discomfort in any way, shape, or form. This feeling is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. Our pain tolerance is significantly lower today than what it was in the past. If you’re reading this you most likely have a roof over your head, heat in your house, running water, and clean clothes to wear. We have our modes of transportation, an abundance of food to eat, and a fully furnished home. In reality that’s more than what almost 3 billion other people, don’t have — that’s about half of the world’s population. We’re an extremely comfortable society. The downside of this comfort is complacency — for personal growth and/or learning a new habit. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you view it), some level of discomfort is required to achieve a goal.
One way to interpret this pain (change) is to start with small daily steps towards reaching your goals. For example, if you’re trying to eat healthier, rather than try to change your diet for the whole day, focus on eating a healthy breakfast. If that’s too hard, then start by switching out a snack. Break down the goal as much as you can to guarantee success for the day. This not only raises your chances of actually achieving your long-term goal (regardless of the time it takes), but also protects your self-image.
Use your strengths: build on something you’re good at right now
You guarantee your success by making your goals as attainable as possible. You’ll still be experiencing a level of improvement, albeit small, but in a way that builds confidence in the least painful way possible. Eventually, you’ll not only become more confident, you’ll become more comfortable with implementing even bigger changes.
Know how to cook and want to eat healthier? In the beginning, focus on building on your current cooking skills rather than trying to learn new. Want to start working out and already have exercise equipment in your home? Start by using the equipment you already have rather than joining a gym, which requires extra traveling. By building on your strengths you’ll not only be taking advantage of what you already can do, but you’ll also be reinforcing past actions aimed at goal achievement.
For many, any change, both positive and negative, may be interpreted by the mind as painful due to our lifestyle. Keep the changes small but consistent and build on what you already know or do. This will help minimize that discomfort and propel you toward your goals.
Challenge is good
To find fault is easy, to do better may be difficult.” ~ Plutarch
“People often persist in long-held beliefs even in the face of evidence that invalidates them.” This is true not only when we evaluate others, but also when we evaluate ourselves. If the story you’ve been telling yourself over the years is that you can’t change for the better, then you’re likely continuing that story, even in the face of progress!
Studies show that people tend to pick and choose what they focus on. They specifically focus on evidence that confirms their prior beliefs, rather than on evidence that challenges them.
For instance, continuing with the example above, even if you do eat a healthy breakfast but eat an unhealthy lunch or dinner, don’t focus on the unhealthy eating. This only re-affirms the current belief system that you’ll never be able to change. Don’t disregard success for the day. This will make the pre-existing belief even more extreme.
Don’t succumb to assimilation bias
“The tendency to evaluate new information through the prism of preexisting beliefs, known as assimilation bias, is robust and pervasive.” Acknowledge this bias and become actively aware of it when it occurs during goal attainment. This is the first step in changing the story you tell yourself. This is not an easy task, since for many, this story is one that they’ve been telling themselves for years — whether they realize it or not. However, in the same way the story took years to write, a new, “healthier” story takes time to unfold.
Adjust, refocus, and recommit to your New Year goals
If you’re still thinking about your New Year goals and/or lifestyle goals in general, think about the this wisdom of the ancients. Implement these suggestions. It will help will you adjust, refocus, and recommit. For many, it helps to find a guide, mentor, or coach to keep you focused and to continuously remind you of what you’ve set out to do.
“New day, new beginnings…small daily steps are key.”
That’s what I always tell my clients. Keep that in mind. Not only will you achieve those New Year goals and get the results you desired, but you’ll also become the person that you’ve set out to be.
Sources and Inspiration:
(1)The Slight Edge. Turning Simple Disciplines INTO Massive Success and Happiness. Jeff Olson.
Attainment: The 12 Elements of Elite Performance. Troy Bassham