It’s that time of year again! The New Year is just around the corner, so it’s time for everyone to pause in order to reflect on the past, and make their New Year’s resolutions. We create BHAG’s (Big, Hairy and Audacious Goals), and drive towards them with a burst of tremendous energy and enthusiasm. Goals like losing weight, finding a better job, starting a new business, improving money management or improving a relationship are all fairly common. Inevitably, that energy and enthusiasm begins to falter, usually around the 2nd or 3rd week of January, and we’re back to the status quo. “Oh well!”, we tell ourselves, “I’ll start up again next month.”
Sound familiar? I know I’ve done this more times than I can remember, and I’ll likely do it again. The question I keep asking myself is “Why?”. Why do I fail to succeed at accomplishing things that are so important to me? Intellectually, and as a linear thinker, I know ‘how’ to succeed. It’s a step by step process. Plan – Do – Review – Pivot - Repeat. The challenge is in the execution and follow through, especially when you come up against an obstacle or a set-back.
So, why do we fail to succeed? There are many contributing factors to failure, and many are dependent on the situation and the individual. I’d like to share just a few high level factors that are global, and relevant to me and perhaps to you too.
Reason #1 - Lack of Passion and Conviction
For me, passion is everything when it comes to achieving big and important goals. It’s not just about knowing that I want to achieve something… I need to feel it in my heart and in my belly in order to really go after it. I need to have a strong emotional connection to it.
A great example of this is when I used to race IRONMAN as a serious competitor back in the 1990’s. Everyday, I’d wake up early and hit the ground with a feeling as if I was ‘pulled’ towards my training that day, because I knew I had to do the work to reach my goals… I had a purpose. Notice I didn’t say pushed…. but pulled. When I am pulled towards something, I know It’s out of passion and that I’ll work to achieve it no matter what barriers might present themselves.
When you feel as if you’re pulled towards something, realize you have a purpose, and a greater chance to achieve your goals. If you’re pushed, then you might lack the conviction necessary to work through the tough times.
Sometimes I fail at achieving my goals because I don’t feel pulled from a place of passion or purpose.
Reason #2 – Poor Time Management
We all have lots of stuff going on, and everyone is always so busy. Working a demanding full-time job with travel, managing kid’s schedules, normal chores and running errands, housework, exercising… and let’s not forget scheduling time for your significant other! LOL. It all adds up, and we all complain about not having enough time in a day.
So, when we want to add a BHAG to that already full laundry list, it seems impossible. However, we do it anyway, hoping that miraculously we’ll be able to keep juggling all of the balls of life in the air, while focusing on something new and important.
This is where I find time management becomes a challenge, and I need to do a better job with scheduling. The reality is there are things that I ‘need’ to do, and things that I ‘want’ to do, and when my wants start to overtake my needs, I get out of balance and in trouble.
For example, I frequently set a goal of writing articles on the topics of triathlon training and racing, and personal development. I ‘know’ it’s important to do as a way to position myself as a content expert and leader in the field, and I ‘feel’ it’s important to share one’s knowledge and experience for the good of others. Therefore, I know I have a passion around it.
My challenge is that writing is time consuming, and requires me to be in a certain state of mind in order to write effectively. (In fact, you may argue that I wasn’t in the right state of mind when I wrote this!). If I’m at all distracted with other work and life events I need to focus on, I have difficulty with finding the time when my brain is calm, and can focus on the writing. So, instead of carving out an hour for creative writing in my schedule, I’ll divert my focus and attention to something that I ‘need’ to accomplish, or maybe just get lost in mindlessness, like Facebook. The result… the writing time goes on the back burner, and the article never gets written or published.
Sometimes I fail at achieving my goals because I don’t always manage my time as effectively as I should, allowing distractions to divert my attention.
Reason #3 - Getting Traction takes Time and Patience
I don’t know about you, but I want it NOW! I think many of us fall into the trap of wanting and expecting quick results from our efforts. Maybe it’s a feeling of entitlement, or maybe it’s the way our culture is focused on instant gratification, but it’s a problem when it comes to accomplishing our BHAGs. Sometimes, when we don’t get traction with something immediately, we give up… and either go back to the old way, or move onto something new. I know I do sometimes…darn it! Unfortunately, this is not the way to find success.
About 20 years ago, when I started my Spinervals Cycling workout series, it was with a single workout on a VHS that cost practically a year’s worth of income at the time to produce. I remember waiting for days to receive my first order, and I rushed to the post office to mail it to the customer. The next order came in a few days after that, and then another, and another. They trickled in slowly that first winter… certainly not catching the world on fire! Fortunately, I was able to be patient, and didn’t get too frustrated by the slow start, (ok, maybe I did a little) reminding myself that ‘rome was not built in a day’, and neither is a workout video production company!
Somehow, I was able to sell enough to fund another video production, and released two new titles on VHS that following indoor training season. This time, I noticed I was seeing a faster pace of orders coming in, and instead of buying just one video, people were buying all three. Suddenly, there was traction, and the business was starting to support itself and grow.
Year three, I funded the development of three new videos through sales, and increased my marketing budget. Sales picked up again, and it was clear that I had a legitimate business on my hands, with full-on traction. By year four, and with over 8 workouts now in the Spinervals series, I had achieved international distribution and was finally pulling a personal paycheck from the company. My patience was finally paying off after several hard years, and Spinervals became a leader in the indoor cycling workout category.
In this case, patience did pay off over time, as I stayed the course and allowed for the product to gain traction in the marketplace. This is not always my pattern, as often times I’ll get frustrated and pivot too quickly, or even jump ship, if my work is not showing quick results. It’s crucial to stay grounded in the fact that worthwhile endeavors usually always take time to germinate and show the fruits of your labor.
Sometimes I have failed in achieving my goals because I don’t practice patience, or give things time to get traction.
Like I said earlier in this piece, there are many things that contribute to failing when pursuing an important goal. The three I mentioned may be relevant to you too, so let’s turn them around. Let’s talk about how to make them into a positive, and not a negative!
1. Have passion and conviction! Reach deep into your heart and soul and determine the ‘why’ from an emotional place. Feel as if you want to do something so much, it can make you cry. As an example, If losing weight is your goal, dig deeper than the simply aesthetic reason of looking better in the mirror. Connect with how you’ll feel better and improve your health, enabling you to be more vibrant and "show up" for your family. Give your goals deeper meaning than what's visible on the surface, connected with your core values and life purpose. This is how you push through the challenges to the finish line!
2. Manage your time effectively! We all have 24 hours in a day. Focus on your key priorities, and get them done FIRST. Remember, that which you focus on improves. I once read that, after your morning routines of going to the bathroom and perhaps brushing your teeth, the first thing you do in the morning is what's most important to you. What do you? Schedule your day so that all of your important tasks are planned out, including your personal development.
3. Practice patience! Almost nothing worthwhile doing in life comes easy, or gets handed to you on a silver platter. And if it does, count your blessings. Execute a well-conceived plan, and allow it to take root. Tend to it with loving care, and allow for it to grow over time. Pulling the plug or pivoting in a different direction too soon can derail your chance to truly succeed. Nurture and develop, and when the time is right to make a change in a different direction, you'll know.
Finally, realize that failure fosters a greater opportunity for enduring success. As my High School Football coach used to tell us, you learn more from your losses than you do from your wins. Fail big... win even bigger!
Good luck with your goals in 2018!
Grow and Prosper,
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