Often we make New Year’s Resolutions, because we are dissatisfied with something in our lives. When we make our resolutions, we want things to change as soon as possible. What we often forget is that long-term lifestyle changes take time, patience, and effort.
I believe you have to know what your long-term goals are so you can make small goals (i.e., daily tasks) have direction and purpose. I only work with people who are 100% committed to change. But what does that mean? When you commit to changing something about yourself, then you have to ask yourself and know the answers to these two questions.
(1) How much is it worth to me to achieve this goal? What am I willing to pay? What will I sacrifice now, so I can achieve this goal sooner, rather than later?
(2) How will I know when I’m successful? What will make me satisfied, but encouraged to keep working harder?
I believe you have to remind yourself daily of your answers to the two questions above, otherwise you may find yourself quickly coming up with lots of things to do on your to-do list that are not aligned with the daily action you must take to achieve the goals that are most important to you, your happiness, and success.
Psychologists Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer latest program of research called The Progress Principle encourages people to focus on small immediate changes at work where they can see the progress they’ve made to increase their motivation, job satisfaction, and productivity. This is counter to what many people do when making resolutions and goals for themselves (whether it is at work or in their personal lives) that take a long time to achieve. Ronald Riggio, Ph.D., explains how these two psychologists stumbled upon what computer game programmers have known for years: that people become strongly motivated (sometimes even addicted) to accomplish small tasks (i.e. get to the next level); he further explains how to use this knowledge to get ahead at work.
If you’ve been reading the latest articles on major news websites like Kathy Kristof’s on 7 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions the last few weeks, you may have noticed two trends often mentioned: choose small bite-sized goals and celebrate every time you surpass or meet these small goals. For example, if you’d like to lose 30 pounds, then focus on losing 1 pound per week for 30 weeks. Each week you lose 1 pound, then celebrate with a reward such as a manicure or a bubble bath. If you’d like to run a marathon and you don’t run, then focus first on running 5 miles the first week, and increase your mileage by 10% each week, celebrating your breakthroughs each week. I completely agree; however, know why you’ve committed to challenging yourself to do, or think, or feel differently each day.
Be Aware of the Big Picture
What this means is that even though we are focusing on small daily tasks, before we commit to what we’re going to do each day; we also need to be cognizant of what our BIG, long-term goals are so that somewhere in the busy-work of our days we’re doing the small tasks that will get us closer to our long-term goals. Knowing what the big picture is for why we work on daily and weekly goals will help us stay focused on the direction our lives are moving towards while providing daily structure.