Make progress a habit from the start of 2017

2016 is now in our rear-view mirror with 2017 underway. How do you want the upcoming year to be? Do you have goals you want to achieve or do you prefer a take it as it comes approach?

Around 50% of Australians went as far to make a New Year’s resolution - you know the usual things like announcing to lose weight, quit smoking, spend more quality time with the family etc. Busy worker’s resolutions may have been specific to their job – like declaring to work less, improve work/life balance, achieve goals etc. The bad news is less than 10% New Year’s resolutions are successful (Source: University of Scranton). The reasons are we’re either not committed to achieving them, self sabotage them or the reality hits when we get back to our usual day to day routine that progress doesn’t happen just because we made some form of declaration.

That being said, January is a great time to start afresh and build habits. Imagine if you were part of the minority who found a way to embed behaviours into day to day activity and achieve progress on stated objectives.

To move objectives from concept to implementation then consider:

  • Scalable and sustainable - what are the decisions, actions and behaviours required to get each objective happening? There could be activities you want to scale up and others you want to scale down. The key to sustainability is to embed behaviours in a way they become the normal way of doing things.

This is an approach I apply when reading business books. I have a pile of great books I want to read but I’m not an express reader who can get through a book in 2 or 3 days. I therefore set myself a modest target of 20 – 30 pages a day and usually finish the book in 2 – 3 weeks (my daughter can read 400 pages in a day - I guess she got that skill from her mother and not her father!!!). Depending on when I need to read the book by determines the number of pages I read each day. I don’t think I’d achieve my objective of reading the books if I didn’t plan and execute the specific repeatable action of reading. 

  •  Achievable -  a great way we self sabotage is we make goals either so big, complex or overwhelming that we’re unable to make a start or be measured on progress. Goals need to be broken down into small attainable and measurable actions so we can see improvement, make adjustments if necessary and get momentum.

For instance, a middle age person who’s unfit but plans to run in the Melbourne Marathon doesn’t just turn up on the day without any training. In fact, they don’t even run a marathon distance for a long time (if at all) during the training regime because they’re simply not fit enough to. What they do is they build the training load over time until they’re ready to run a 42km marathon. Each week leading up to the marathon will consist of hitting targets for distance (number of km’s they run), health (food and beverage choices) and recovery (rest and stretching).

To achieve objectives or even New Year’s resolutions the question you need to ask yourself is: What's the new rhythm I’ll embed to enable success? Not someone else’s rhythm but yours - you know the way you do your best work.

To make progress a habit from the start of 2017 undoubtedly requires focus, effort and getting into a groove where it just happens unconsciously. Information is knowledge but implementation is action and there’s no better time than starting in January to build your rhythm for a successful year.