Recently, a client called me for a session because he had trouble sticking to his goals. We talked about creating habits rather than goals. We talked about making the process itself enjoyable. We talked about motivation, and about keeping a symbol or picture of his goal in front of him at all times, to remind him of the why of his goal. He implemented all this, but it still wasn’t enough. It was hard for him to resist, on a day-to-day basis, the temptations of immediate gratification (or apparent gratification). It also was very easy to give in to the discouragement he felt when he apparently wasn’t making any headway, or had slipped up in his daily actions.
After some brainstorming, we found the problem: he was missing what I call the “success habit”. He was so focused on what he hadn’t yet done and where he had failed, that he wasn’t able to see his progress, which demotivated him.
This, by the way, is a tendency that most of us have – I know I did (and am still working at eliminating). We are trained, from a very young age, to focus on our mistakes – to correct them; on our weaknesses – to strengthen them; on our failures – to avoid them. It is perfectly appropriate to look at what we did or missed and draw the lessons from our experience, but the relentless focus that tends to be brought to our failings when we’re children often ends up becoming a pattern of focusing mainly, or even only, on what’s not working, which prevents us from seeing our progress and successes.
Thankfully, this habit is easy to break (even if it can take a little while), by creating a “success habit”. All it takes is a notebook, and a few minutes at the end of every day, to create a success journal. So go ahead, and create your own:
There are several versions to make a success journal. The one below is one that is inspired by the method proposed by Craig Ballentyne, of Early To Rise, with a couple of my own twists added in.
Take a notebook, and at the end of every day, write the following:
- Write down 3-5 things you have accomplished today: a project you completed or brought to a milestone, or the 5-minute walk to took today, as per your program to build a habit of fitness in your life. (SEE BELOW FOR LAST MONTH’S ARTICLE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS)
- Write 3-5 things you are grateful for today. It can be as simple as a sunny day when you had to walk to an appointment, or as significant as the birth of your first-born child.
- Write down 1-5 opportunities that came your way today. It could be a referral that came in, a project you were offered, the suggestion that you should become a PTA officer.
- Finally, write down 1-5 people you appreciate today. It can be the person who held the door for you when you were rushing in the building under the rain, the barista who welcomed you with a smile when you ordered your coffee, or the person who gave you that referral.
Do this every day, and you will start to notice more and more the good things that happen in your daily life, changing your focus from the negative to the positive, from your failures to your successes. Like my client, you’ll find that this change of focus makes it easier to stick to your goals and your routines, and achieve what you really want