Few things are as frustrating as committing to something you really enjoy, knowing it will benefit you greatly, and failing to follow-through…..and then not knowing why it happened or how to fix it.
That happened to me in 2014. I love to read but realized I was doing less and less of it. So I set a goal and committed to reading at least 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week. I thought I had the perfect way of making it happen with essentially NET (No Extra Time): just go to bed 30 minutes earlier and incorporate it into my bed-time routine. What seemed to be a “brilliant” strategy at the beginning of the year was anything but that. Instead, it became a constant source of frustration as the year wore on.
Regardless, I kept on on pounding the proverbial “rock” thinking persistence would pay-off. There always seemed to be a valid reason or excuse when reading didn’t happen (which was often). And the few times I was willing to admit I just busted I usually rationalized to the category of “justified exception”. The problem was that the results…..the goods…..were still the same: reading wasn’t happening.
No matter how brilliant the plan, when what you’re doing isn’t getting you the results you want it’s time to change. Despite my best intentions, I only read a pitiful total of 21 books in 2014.
Clearly, I needed to change something. When it comes to the science of achievement, behavior change and habit, taking a solution focused approach is often more effective than trying to overanalyze what went wrong. That’s exactly what I did this past year. By adapting and using the 3 steps below, I was able to exponentially move the needle on my reading in 2015. Total number of books read in 2015 (and counting)? Seventy, and I plan to hit 75 before December 31st.
I’m convinced these same 3 steps that helped me can help you achieve whatever you want in 2016:
- Get Focused and Clear– Determine what it is you really want and just as importantly, your powerful, passionate “Why.” Willpower will get you going; only your “Why” will keep you going. In my case, I realized that more reading was an absolute requirement if I wanted to take my leadership and influence with my company and those I care about most to the next level. It became a “must” for me instead of a “want to.”
- Get The Best– Get the best tools, mentors, coaches, and resources you can afford. For me, this meant taking another speed reading course. I’ve taken several in the past and was skeptical about taking yet another. However, one of my sons had just completed one and couldn’t stop raving about it. It was clear he was getting results so I decided to take the plunge. It wasn’t expensive, so investing the time is what cost me the most…..and it was worth every minute.
- Get the Right Strategy– You can have the first two steps right but still not get what you want if your strategy doesn’t work. In my case, this step made the biggest impact of all. Jim Rohn said it best: “You can’t head East and expect to catch the sunset; you’ll miss it everytime.”
As it turned out, my “brilliant” 2014 reading strategy was more focused on getting my reading done with NET time and not on my powerful “Why”. It was doomed to fail at the start because when bedtime rolled around I was already exhausted and any excuse was a good one. If I did crack open a book, it just put me out that much quicker.
A strategy that did work was to build reading into the first 15 minutes of my work following my morning ritual and the first 15 minutes right after lunch. It wasn’t NET time, but it was still efficient and accomplished what I wanted by optimizing my energy and priorities while minimizing the opportunities for excuses and barriers. My morning reading was much more consistent than after lunch, but regardless, I got a lot of reading done. The strange thing was that with this routine, make-up reading at bedtime actually became easy because I already had built-in momentum, confidence and interest in what I was reading.
When it comes to strategy, make sure to notice the results you’re getting and if they aren’t what you want, adjust accordingly.
The three steps above are part of what Tony Robbins promotes for creating lasting change. While they are common-sense and effective for helping you achieve what matters, they don’t seem to be common practice.
Which of these 3 steps I have you overlooked, are stepping over or need to adjust in order to achieve the results you want in 2016?
Please leave a comment, I’d love to learn.