Monday, January 20, 2014

New Year's Resolutions Are Not Dead Yet

The day has passed. Yes the world-wide day when most of us have abandoned our New Year's resolutions. At this point, we don't even look longingly back on what "might have been" but hope for better things next year. But wait! There is hope for us yet. Those longed for dreams of weight loss, exercise, writing, new work etc. still have a heart beat and can be resurrected. And all it takes is a little rethinking.

New Year's gives me hope of all the things I can accomplish. An unblemished canvas, it stretches languidly off into the 365 day distance with promises of a new start. Yet a mere 20 days later and the canvas seems grittier, dirtier and the few brush strokes on it lack the importance of impending brilliance. So what can we do?
1. Stop looking at the entire year (or the next five)

For many of us the daunting task of remaking our lives or at least some part of them shuts us down. Looking at the height we wish to achieve or the goal to accomplish just seems to much. So, the first thing some of us need to do is stop looking at the entire goal. Of course it's important to identify where we are going and why, but once that's done many of us have to get the larger goal out of our mind because it will paralyze us.

2. Choose the one thing that makes the biggest difference.

Dr. David Cooperrider asks the question "what's the smallest thing you can do to make the biggest difference?" That's a powerful question because I know I normally go for the biggest thing I can do. But Cooperrider is right. If we focus on something small, we can accomplish big things. We must break our goal down and down and down until we understand some of the behaviors that lead to that goal. For example it might mean getting up 30 minutes earlier to walk or write. Rerouting our trek to work so we don't walk by the Dunkin Donuts shop. Or just taking 10 minutes to look at the sky and think. What's the one behavior, the one thing we want to focus on?

3. Only work on the "one thing"

The greatest athletes in the world only focus on improving 1% at a time. According to Dr. Greg Wells they concentrate on one movement, one muscle, one action until they get it just right and then they move on. For us, it's about focusing on our "one thing" and getting it right. Focusing on our "one thing" can change behavior long term and help us achieve larger goals.

So, it's not over yet. The canvas of the year is yet to be painted. We just need to remember, it's just one brush stroke at a time.

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