Tag Archives: mindset

How to Actually Achieve Your Goals this Year

It’s a new year—a fresh start, a new page, a time for renewal and new commitments. It’s an exciting time to improve oneself and set high hopes for the brand-new year. Or is it? Do you find yourself feeling more melancholy than excited in the beginning of January?

At the beginning of last year, I noticed that instead of feeling motivated and excited for the fresh start, I felt…blah. Not so inspired. Not so motivated. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t swept up in the new year rush of positivity.

Upon reflection, I realized that below the surface I felt pressure and anxiety. It was only day three of the new year and I already felt like I was behind; that I wasn’t seizing each day to its fullest to get a jump start on the year. I also felt pressure to make this year better than the last. All of these feelings impacted my normal positive outlook and sent me into a three-week funk.

Instead of feeling hopeful for the year, I felt pressure to make it better than the last. Not exactly a great way to start the year.

Looking back a year later, I had my best year ever in 2017. Even though I didn’t feel enthusiastic at the beginning of the year, my habits eventually overtook my fears and helped me to make progress over the year before.

If you feel a bit of dread this time of year, you are not alone. Starting the year feeling less than enthusiastic doesn’t have to negatively impact your year. You can have a fantastic 2018 and make it your best year yet.

Success speaker Tony Robbins says that most of us overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years.

Below are six strategies for actually achieving your goals this year:

Goals, not resolutions.

The traditional new year “resolutions” are rarely successful. It’s been reported that only 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions. The definition of resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something”. It takes an enormous amount of discipline to completely stop doing something or to commit to always do something.

A better approach is to set goals. The best goals are specific, measurable, and future focused. By keeping the language future focused, it keeps you in a positive mindset and empowers you to work toward the goal.

Bad goal: I want to lose 10 pounds

Great goal: I will weigh 135 pounds by June 30, 2018

I’ve learned over the years that fewer goals empower me to actually stick to them. When I have a list of 10 goals, I end up focusing on what I’m not accomplishing than the progress I’m making. I try to keep my list to four to five goals. If I accomplish even half of them, I have made progress over last year.

Slow down to speed up.

The most common cause of overwhelm is a lack of clarity. If you come into the office on Monday and don’t have clarity around the most important things you want to accomplish, then you will probably start by checking your email, and an hour later find yourself on YouTube watching a cat video.

When we don’t have clarity, we procrastinate and whittle our time away doing insignificant things that don’t contribute to our goals. The same is true for annual goals. If you don’t have clarity, you will spend a lot more energy multitasking (which doesn’t work) and not get very far.

You will start the year off busy—running from meeting to meeting, putting out daily fires, trying to keep your inbox below 500 emails—and six months later find yourself wondering where the first half of the year went.

To gain clarity, slow down to speed up. Meaning, slow down to clarify your goals, and once you have clarity, you will be able to accomplish your goals faster and easier. Clarity allows you to not expend unnecessary energy overwhelmed by your to do list of over 30 things, and instead allows you to focus intently on important tasks that will lead you toward more success.

Ease in.

One of the top resolutions people make each year is to get in better shape. Most people approach this by resolving to exercise regularly and eat healthier. These are lofty goals (they are on my list almost every year), yet the challenge can come when we set our expectations too high.

Most experts would say that you should commit to an ideal workout schedule from day one. In my experience, this becomes overwhelming and does not feel sustainable. If you haven’t worked out consistently over the past year and then create a goal for working out four times a week, you can quickly become demotivated.

It may be against conventional wisdom, but ease into your goals. Create a goal that is realistic for you, yet will also motivate you to continue.

For example, perhaps the first two weeks you set a goal to work out twice a week and then increase it to three times in week three or four. Easing in allows you to adjust to your new way of living so it doesn’t feel so abrupt.

If you are someone who can create a lofty goal, jump right in, and never look back, then do it! Do what works for you. For the rest of us (the 92%), easing in is much more sustainable.

Reverse Plan.

This one strategy can be a game changer for achieving your goals this year. I started using this strategy about four years ago when I ended the year feeling totally exhausted and depleted.

I had a really busy year in my business, and had failed to plan a vacation. I remember opening my calendar mid-year looking for a week I could schedule some time off, and there wasn’t one week without appointments or commitments for the rest of the year. I pushed through that year with very little time off and promised myself I would never have a year like that again.

At the beginning of the next year, I sat down one day and planned the most important things in my life and scheduled them in my calendar—the doctor appointments, vacations, blog writing days, conferences, school activities, and dates with my husband.

I call this reverse planning because it’s the reverse of what most people do. Most of us go about our normal work and then try to fit in the important things later. That rarely works.

Planning ahead and being deliberate with your time will ensure the most important things are scheduled. Two important things for leaders to reverse plan are coaching sessions with your employees and strategy days (days you devote completely to strategic goals). Now is the time to schedule these important events before your calendar fills up.

Measure backwards.

One of my business mentors, Dan Sullivan, says one mistake most of us make in measuring our goals is that we measure forward instead of backward.

Let’s say at the beginning of the year you weigh 150 pounds, and you set a goal to weigh 135 pounds by June 30th. On June 30th, if you weigh 140 pounds, you technically did not achieve your goal. Most of us will focus on what we didn’t achieve rather than what we did achieve.

So, you didn’t achieve 135 pounds, but you still lost 10 pounds! Dan Sullivan calls this focusing on “the gap”. Instead of focusing on the progress, we focus on the gap between what we did and what we wanted to do. Progress is an evolution. Nothing happens overnight.

Forgive yourself.

Being human means you will likely hit some bumps throughout the year and fall off the wagon. Maybe you had a weak moment and somehow found yourself eating Nutella straight from the jar (I confess), you miss your workouts for weeks in a row, or you haven’t had coaching sessions with your employees for months.

You can spend your energy ruminating on your failures, or you can forgive yourself, get back up, and do better tomorrow. After years of ruminating, I have found forgiveness to be much more pleasant.

There are two books I recommend to inspire you to achieve your goals this year: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, and The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen. Small steps throughout the year lead to big results. Every choice we make either leads us toward what we want or away from what we want. Don’t underestimate the power in the small daily choices.

How Mindset Affects Your Leadership

Have you ever come across a manager who didn’t feel he or she needed improvement?

Psychologist Carol Dweck of Stanford University has done research on mindset and how the mindset you choose significantly affects how you lead your life. Dweck’s extensive research has shown that a manager’s mindset can have a significant impact on your business as well. Dweck indentifies two mindsets: 

Fixed mindset: intelligence is a fixed trait

Growth mindset: intelligence is a flexible quality; intelligence can be developed

Fixed mindset leaders believe looking smart is most important. They perceive effort as negative since they believe their intelligence is fixed and effort undermines their natural abilities. Growth mindset leaders believe learning is more important than looking smart. They perceive effort as positive since the more effort you exert, the more you can develop and grow. One study revealed the common characteristics of managers for both mindsets:

 Fixed mindset managers:

  • Do not admit and correct their deficiencies
  • Do not notice improvement in their employees; first impressions last
  • Don’t have an accurate view of themselves (they try to block negative information)
  • Don’t mentor their employees as much
  • Can’t take criticism

 Growth mindset managers:

  •  Notice improvement and growth in their employees
  • Provide better quality coaching and development
  • Have an accurate view of themselves
  • Mentor employees rather than judge them
  • Understand a large part of their job is to nurture the skills and abilities of employees

 The good news is that we can change our mindset. A group of managers who went through a “growth mindset workshop” showed more openness to feedback, a greater willingness to mentor employees, and openness to employee change after they completed the workshop.

Understanding mindset and how it affects a manager’s impact is an important consideration in developing current and future leaders.

The Quality that Differentiates Top Performers

I recently watched a video featuring psychologist Carol Dweck called Mindset, Motivation and Leadership. Her research suggests that the view you adopt significantly affects how you lead your life.

People with a fixed mindset believe that individuals are born with the intelligence and skills they will have throughout life, and there is very little possibility of growth or development. They believe time and energy is best spent sharpening the natural skills we were born with. People who have a fixed mindset often feel they have to prove themselves over and over.

People with a growth mindset believe anything is possible, and individuals have the capability of developing new skills and talents. They believe your basic skills and qualities can be developed through effort. Dweck says a fixed mindset turns you away from learning and a growth mindset turns you to learning.

So how does this apply to leadership? Research has shown that what differentiates top leaders from everyone else is effort. These leaders don’t just capitalize on their strengths, but also address their weaknesses. They embrace learning and development, and strive to be better. Fixed mindset leaders often don’t put in the effort to develop because they believe any failure they encounter puts their intelligence into question. The fixed mindset leader is constantly trying to prove they are smart or talented.

I see this first hand in my work coaching leaders. Those who get the best results from coaching and leadership development programs are the leaders who work at mastering the material and the skills. They focus on continuous improvement, work at applying the concepts, and read more than the average leader. The good news is that we can choose our mindset. Mindsets are beliefs, and the first step to changing your belief is realizing you have a choice. Dweck suggests making a solid plan for growth as a first step in changing your mindset.