Stay the Course
Everywhere you turn this time of year, you’ll see someone telling you how to set New Year’s Resolutions. And, while I think there is validity to setting up resolutions correctly, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of new information available.
Everyone knows how to set goals. We’ve all heard of SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive – or some variation of that) but, is setting goals really the problem?
Do you really have a hard time dreaming? Do you really have a hard time envisioning the future? Do you really have a hard time thinking about what you would like to do over the next twelve months?
I would argue that most don’t have a problem with this. In fact, I don’t think most people even have a problem getting started. Most people can easily get fired up about something for a week or two or even a month.
Think about how many diets you’ve started. Think about how many times you’ve stepped foot into the gym for the first time. Or, how many times you written a budget.
Simple stuff, right?!
What I think most people struggle with maintaining goals over sustained periods of time.
I go to a local Crossfit gym and I know, without a doubt, that it is going to be packed for the first 30 days of the year. Why?
Because, nothing has changed in most people from December 31st to January 1st. Sure they’re a little hopped up on motivation and ambition because society told them that’s what you do on January 1st but most of that motivation is external – it’s not a deeply rooted belief in the changes they say they want to make.
So, this leads me into the conversation I want to have with you today. How do we maintain our objectives? How do we keep going when we lose external motivation? How do we sustain this new way of living when the excitement has worn off?
What I’m going to do today is give you six ways you can maintain consistency in your objectives for the year whether it’s losing weight, connecting with your wife, getting a job promotion, making more money, starting a new business, or any number of things you might have in store for 2017.
The first step in staying the course with regards to your goals is to start from the right mindset in the first place.
I was noticing the other day as I was on Instagram that one of my buddies took a private jet with his family for vacation. My initial response was “I want to do that. That looks like fun. Why can’t I have that?” Then I realized and remembered I don’t even like flying.
It’s easy to look around and see what other people have and want it for no other reason than it looks cool.
But, if you want to maintain your objectives, you better have a damn good reason for it. Things are going to get hard. This change is not going to be easy. You’re going to want to give up.
And, unless you have a solid, emotionally-charged reason for making that change, it just won’t last.
Next, you need to plant your flag. If you’re trying to lose weight for a cruise or woo your wife so she doesn’t divorce you or hurry and get that job promotion then coast for your career, or get your financial affairs in order so you don’t go bankrupt, you haven’t fully committed to the amount of effort it’s going to take to reach your objectives.
If you want to make real change in your life, you have got to understand that you’re in this for the long-haul. You have got to make the decision that you’re changing your lifestyle – not just a couple activities temporarily.
Having a lifelong approach will keep you grounded in reality when you’re tempted to stray or, if you do stray, get you back on the path quickly.
So this leads me to the next point which is that you’re going to have to redefine success. Most people, when it comes to fitness for example, would define success as reaching a goal of 20lbs, for example.
But rather than focusing on the end-result, I want you to consider focusing on the tactics – the small actions you can take day in and day out – towards your objective.
This way, losing 20lbs is no longer the benchmark for success but rather the actions you can complete that will ensure you lose the weight. In this case, it would be going to the gym 5 days per week, cutting out sugar, and not eating anything after 7:00.
These are controllable steps and, if you do them, the 20lbs you’re trying to lose just won’t be a problem.
SYSTEMS, NOT MOTIVATION
Next, let’s talk about motivation. Motivation is a buzz-word. Everyone talks about being more motivated. Everyone talks about finding more motivation.
Motivation is overrated. You either want it or you don’t. Period.
How bad do you want it? If you’re going to get derailed at the slightest sign of struggle, you don’t want it bad enough. If you get off-track indefinitely after missing one step towards your goal, you never really wanted it bad enough in the first place.
So, now that we know we can forget about motivation, I want you to, instead, focus on systems – systems and processes you can use and implement that will ensure you’re completing your tactics which will ensure you meet your objectives.
For example, if losing weight and going to the gym has always been a struggle for you, consider buying a system of workouts that you can follow.
If dating your wife each week is a problem, use the system of a calendar and write it in each week.
If spending more money than you earn because you can put everything on a credit card is a problem for you, move to a cash-only system.
The natural man is weak and, in difficult times, he’ll fail you. Creating systems and processes that move your towards your goals and away from tempation to revert to your old ways is critical.
TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
This leads me into point five which is that you have to have a system to track your progress. Most of us live in delusion. Most of us think we’re more effective than we really are. Most of us think more highly of ourselves than we ought to.
Creating and implementing a tracking tool is going to allow you to deal in reality.
If your tactic is working out, get a scale. If it’s money and budgeting, a financial program will work. If it’s connecting with your wife, a calendar will work.
This is one of the hardest things to do because it takes time and attention but, if you really want to improve, you have to know where things stand. If you don’t, you’ll fool yourself into thinking you’re doing better than you really are.
FIND A TEAM
And the last point I want to make today is that you have to find a team and/or an accountability partner. This could be a spouse. It could be a friend or a colleague.
Bottom line is that you have to find someone who is willing to help you toe the line. If they’re not willing to get tough with you, you’ve probably identified have a good friend but not a great accountability partner.
Find someone you can give permission to get after you a bit should you fall short.
If you can’t find someone like that or want something a little more structured, consider joining us inside The Iron Council. Like I mentioned earlier, we’re focusing heavily on our Twelve-Week Battle Plan which will help you identify your objectives, the tactics for getting you there, the ability to track your progress, and the accountability to keep you on pace.
You can learn more and join us at www.orderofman.com/ironcouncil.
So there you have it men, six steps to help you stay the course: emotionally driven, commit forever, redefine success, systems not motivation, track your progress, and find a team.
Utilize those six steps and you’ll be sure to make 2017 your best year ever.