Most people quit on their "New Year's Resolutions" by January 12th.
In December, when I heard that, I gasped.
Today, in January, as I remembered those words, I said, “I see why!”
Listen, the struggle is real. Over the last 20 days, I've wanted to quit on this “goals stuff” at least 40 times. No lie. Anyone who tells you they haven't even considered giving up on their goals at this point in the year is either lying or they haven't set anything lofty for themselves to achieve.
I made a big choice – I decided to go after the whole elephant this year, and I encouraged an entire community of people to join me. I suggested to them that they should set major goals, break them down into milestones and then conquer them one small step at a time, one day at a time.* It sounded so good! And it felt good for us all to be so organized, pumped, and ready to accomplish and succeed.
But here we are.
Here I am.
It’s mid-January, and I’ve wanted to hang AWLADIS up more than once.
Let’s be honest. When you have goals to become more than you are and to do more than you’ve previously done, you’ll almost always wonder whether you can succeed. Why is that? Because we can’t see the future with certainty. We can’t look ahead and see ourselves on the day we’ve reached our goal and confirm that what we’re doing right now is working. This is why we visualize. This is why we continue to speak things that aren’t as though they are. We work just has hard to believe that we’ll get where we’re going as we work to actually get there.
Remember what I said about your goals? To be impactful, they must be CASH goals:
· Challenging – they must require you to leave your comfort zone
· Attainable – they must be things you can realistically do as a human
· Satisfying – the accomplishment should mean something significant to you or bring you joy
· Helpful to Others – they should not just benefit you; they should help you make some positive impact on the people around you
Most of us have the "challenging" part down pat. We've picked goals that are taking us out of our comfort zones, and which are stretching the limits of what we know and what we think we can do. Where we begin to question ourselves, however, is in determining whether our goals are attainable.
There have been times, and I'm sure there will be more, when I have questioned whether I can “do this”. If I’m transparent, most days I start out KNOWING I can, and by – say – 11:30am, I'm no longer so sure. My trick is to break things down into smaller – sometimes minuscule – tasks that I know I can do. Google search for the e-mail I’ll have to send the request to? Ok. Find and look over the form I’ll need to fill out? Sure, I can do that, too. Judge me if you must, but as a person who procrastinates when she gets overwhelmed, this is a lifeline and great way for me to keep moving forward. It may not be "the leap", but I'm still taking steps -- yes, even small ones -- toward the edge of the cliff.
I’ve learned that I can still move forward, in the midst of my struggles with self-doubt. Even on days when I’m not sure that I’m [whatever] enough, as long as I keep DOING, it doesn’t matter what I believe or how I feel. I want you to know that, too. Tenacity takes no emotion and requires no confidence. All it requires is action and dedication. I’ve been saying for a couple months that the keywords for this year are
Action Consistency Discipline Accountability
To be successful, our actions must be patternized and pursued relentlessly. Why is this important? Because there must come a point where discipline becomes desire** and when “have to” becomes “want to”. What I'm learning this month is it doesn't just happen because the dates change. It results from our sheer will to keep going no matter what. Your success will come from your determination to put one foot in front of the other, even if it is ever-so-slightly. Forward is still forward.
Here's what I'm learning in January 2020. I hope it helps you.
1. DO IT ANYWAY.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like it, if you're discouraged and sad, or if you're already really busy doing something else. If you want what’s in your mind to become reality, you have to do what you said you would. You may complain through it, you may cry through it, you may even be angry the entire time. It doesn’t matter. Just. Get it. DONE. Whatever is ahead of you really might be as hard and as terrible as you imagined. Even that doesn’t matter. You can do it, and you must.
I remember as a little girl, watching my father take Cod Liver oil every morning. I once asked him whether it tasted good, and he told me it was disgusting. Of course, I asked why he voluntarily took it every day if he hated the taste and knew ahead of time how gross it was. His answer to me was that the oil kept him from getting sick. So, he was willing to stomach the “ick!” of the oil squeezed from a fish liver in order to remain well throughout the year.
It’s the same for us. Whether you know that the task ahead will be daunting, painful, or even gross, the only way to our goals is straight through that thing we’d rather avoid. Grit your teeth, squeeze your bum cheeks, close your eyes, and DO IT ANYWAY.
2. Get Organized.
Now, this isn’t my strongest suit, admittedly. I tend to keep things in my head – dates, tasks, and responsibilities – and eventually, it all gets to be too much. I get overwhelmed and have to stop and take the time to clear my head, so I can continue to move forward. To be honest, being overwhelmed is one of the main reasons I procrastinate. When I have too much to do, I don’t know what to do. So, I do nothing.
It never works in my favor though. I’ve missed deadlines, and I’ve had to work up to the last minute to get things done. All because I was overwhelmed and couldn’t figure out where to start when I had plenty of time.
The new tasks and ideas aren’t going to wait for the old ones to move out of the way. So, it’s important that you find a way to get what’s in your head out on a regular basis. Whether it’s a planner, journal, coach or all three,*** identify and deploy tools that will help you keep track of all the dates, facts, and activities that make up your life.
3. Evaluate Yourself
Once you have your life’s matters organized, you can decide what you’ll do each day to reach your goals. You’ll need to record those individual actions and note whether you’ve kept your word to yourself. This is important because all too often, we prioritize the tasks of the day and put our goal-oriented actions off for later. If your daily action steps are on your calendar, however, and you have to check them off just like everything else, you’ll be more likely to do them.
Then, at the end of some pre-defined period of time (I use quarterly milestones), you should stop and evaluate yourself. That’s right – give yourself a grade based on the number of activities you did divided by the number of activities you’d planned to do. This way, you’ll quantitatively (numerically) know whether you’re really reaching your goals or whether you’re filling your days with “Immas” (the things Imma do, soon). Anything less than 0.60 (60%) is an F!
If you’re still pursuing your goals at this point in the month, you’ve already achieved more than the majority of people who set out to do something new or different this year. I say, KEEP GOING! I’m telling you as much as I’m telling myself. Let’s see how far we can get PAST January 12th. I’m on day 9. How about you??
* You can get your Goal & Growth-Oriented tools for January 2020 here. It’s free.
** Thanks Pastor Michael Todd!
*** Be on the look out for my life and goals management system, a journal and planner combined, coming January 2021.
Dr. Rhonda Alexander helps leaders and entrepreneurs uncover and discover their best! As an author, professional speaker, and coach, she connects with people who are looking to fulfill their purpose and walk effectively in their life’s calling. Her books, EntrHERpreneur and Your Life’s Calling, can be purchased on TheDrRhonda.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. She is also available for group and individual coaching. Contact Dr. Rhonda directly at Rhonda@TheDrRhonda.com.