For many people, New Year’s Day is a time to look ahead and make resolutions for the New Year.
I’ve always been confounded by this concept. Just because the calendar turns to a new year, why does a goal suddenly become more important?
Isn’t your desire or dream just as relevant on May 12? Or July 21?
Or September 17?
Resolutions make for entertaining exercises this time of year. But, rather than ask if you’re going to make resolutions this year, a more important question to ask is:
Are you simply talking about dreams?
I asked myself that question four months ago. One idea that kept coming back is my failure to start writing my new book about business storytelling.
I had resolved to start the book on January 1st, but I hadn’t started.
Excuses. I had plenty of them. I had a nice idea to write a book. I had the knowledge.
But, I kept allowing other tasks to get in the way. You’re familiar with those important tasks, aren’t you?
Filing papers. Listening to that important podcast. Cleaning up the icons on my computer screen.
I was finding reasons not to write. I had forgotten the lesson of the chicken and the pig on your breakfast plate.
An Ages-Old Business Tale
If you’re not familiar with this tale, it’s about commitment to a project or cause.
If someone is fixing a meal consisting of ham and eggs, that person can thank two creatures:
The pig, who provides the ham, which required his sacrifice.
The chicken, who provided the eggs, which don’t require the same level of commitment as the pig.
The saying that evolved from this is, “The pig is truly committed, while the chicken is only interested.”
In the case of writing my book, I was acting like a chicken.
This realization helped me uncover three barriers to achieving my “resolutions…”
Barrier #1: Trying to Be Perfect
My friend and mentor Darren LaCroix taught me when writing speeches or creating products, one of the biggest challenges people face is perfectionism. They want the finished product to be flawless.
Because of this, most people never start their projects because if it isn’t “just right” no one will want it.
Companies like Apple and Microsoft release products they know aren’t perfect, but they are good enough to release to the public. Bugs and minor flaws can be corrected along the way.
Darren taught me a phrase in 2004 that has served me well:
“Done is More Profitable Than Perfect.”
Every speech that’s ever been given, every product that’s been released, every innovative idea that’s been shared was flawed in the beginning.
The creators understood the key to success is getting the product out into the world. If it’s 85% effective, that’s far more beneficial than a product that’s 100% effective, but never released.
With my book, I realized I was waiting until the conditions were just right. Which meant I would never start writing it.
SOLUTION: Get your product or idea out into the world. Get feedback, make changes, and keep putting it out there.
Barrier #2: Not Having a Strong Enough WHY
Knowing your WHY has become a cliché in the business world. Thanks to author and TED speaker Simon Sinek, people often talk about the idea of having your deep-seated reason (your “WHY”) to do what you do.
Even though it become cliché don’t overlook its power. Having a why grounded in your core desires and purpose will keep you pushing through inevitable barriers which will appear on your journey to success.
I’ve acquired an incredible level of knowledge about presentation skills from my mentors (some of the best speakers in the world) and my own experiences on stage and in front of a camera. And I know how to write and deliver stories that connect with others and get results.
I realized if I don’t write this book, I’m being selfish. I’m hoarding that knowledge and not giving others the opportunity to benefit from it.
I’m committed to lifting others to a higher level of accomplishment. If my knowledge can help others, I owe it to them to write this book.
SOLUTION: Be clear about your purpose and how you want to impact others. How can you make the world better?
Barrier #3: Not Creating a Habit
THE biggest obstacle to success with any endeavor is trying to accomplish it without consistent action.
If you attempt to master a new skill like public speaking, how well will you do if you speak in front of an audience (or camera) once every couple of months?
Or work on writing your speech “when I feel like it?”
You know the answer. The best skills are developed because of regular and consistent repetition. I once lost 37 pounds (and kept it off) in 91 days when I consistently tracked my exercise, food intake, and water consumption.
With regard to my book, I was inspired to create a habit when Darren told me about the new book he’s written. It’s focused on the idea of devoting just 17 minutes a day to your success. If you do this, you will accomplish your goal.
In August 2021, I started each day writing for 20 minutes (Not 17? What can I say? I’m an overachiever).
As of the date of this post, December 26, 2021, I have not missed a single day.
What’s the result of this new habit?
The first draft was completed early in December, and I’m currently reviewing it a third time. It’ll be ready for an editor in January.
Without developing this habit, I would never be at this stage of the book creation process.
SOLUTION: Whatever your goal/resolution, create a daily habit — even if you devote just 5 minutes a day to it. Start, don’t miss a day, and you’re on the road to success.
Well-known success expert Darren Hardy offers an alternative view to goal setting. He says the problem with most goalsetting systems is that they’re set up to make you feel overwhelmed and defeated every day.
He uses the metaphor of a long set of stairs. Most “success goo-roos” tell you to put your daily goal in front of you, like placing them at the top of that long set of stairs. And every day look at that goal.
Darren Hardy suggests the problem with this method is every day you’re looking at that massive difference between where you are and where the goal is, and feel overwhelmed and intimidated by it.
What he instead suggests is rather than looking at the goal at the top of the stairs, focus on the one step in front of you that day. Do what you need to get past that one step, and tomorrow focus on the next one.
If you do this every day, periodically look down at how far you’ve come from the first step (instead of looking up). You’ll feel more positive about your progress and one day, you will be standing on the top step.
A Better Way to Live The Life You Want
When the ball falls in your city and rings in 2022, rather than make blanket resolutions with little substance, think about the vision you have for your life and what you want to accomplish. Think about the three barriers in this and how to overcome them, employ Darren Hardy’s stairstep metaphor and you can’t help but succeed.
Happy New Year!
Make it your most prosperous one ever.
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