Whether or not you practice goal-oriented psychotherapy, you and your clients may be spending time this month thinking about what you want to kick in 2019, and what you want to accomplish. New Year’s Resolutions may help us make positive changes. But they can also reinforce negative self-image as our goals fall by the wayside. We asked top coach Mark J Silverman for some advice on how to actually get things done.
Most New Year’s Resolutions, in fact most goals, are a lie. How do I know? Because I’ve spent a lifetime (and thousands of dollars) learning how to set goals, manage time, and generally get myself to do things I ‘say’ I want to do. In fact, I make my living helping others achieve their objectives, their visions, their goals – all of which are other names for New Week, New Month, New Year… Resolutions.
I work with high level executives who have achieved monetary and worldly success few actually reach. These people are execution machines. They eat sales goals for lunch, and climb the corporate ladder with the ease of a gymnast. Their commitment to their professional lives is so complete that they will hire assistants, consultants (like me), take out lines of credit and knock down anything in their way. They stay up late and get up early. In other words, if they need help, they get it, if something blocks the road, they have it removed. Failure is not an option.
Usually, after their initial topic, our conversation turns to their stress level. Their health. Their relationships.
“I wish I could get to bed before midnight.” “Doctor says I need to lose 20lbs.” “I used to go to the gym religiously, why can’t I get back to it?” “I’d love to have a meditation practice but I can’t find the time.”
Sound familiar? They are important goals, and we know they are important. But we just don’t seem to make the time, set the alarm, or have the discipline to get to bed or put down that cookie.
Why? What is the difference between staying up all night to make a project deadline, making those last three sales calls at the end of the quarter, or volunteering to take on more responsibility to get that promotion?
The difference is commitment. Whether it is the reward of the commission check, the fear of an irate customer, wanting to impress a superior or something else that drives you… Something is motivating you. Something is calling forth that commitment. No excuses. No self-help books. It just gets done.
It’s a simple formula: X = Y
or the transitive property, what you want to get done = done.
Every time we look under the resistance or the excuse – if we look honestly – we will find a competing commitment. It may be conscious, it may be unconscious, but there is always something lurking more important than the stated goal.
Now let’s check on your New Year’s Resolution (or any goal you have set). Are you not finding the time? Do you find yourself backsliding constantly? Let’s use a scale of 1-10 to describe your level of “want to”. Ask yourself, “Is it really a ‘10?’” Is it really something you want to get done? Is it a commitment (to yourself or someone else) that you really want to keep, more than you want to procrastinate? All the above business scenarios I mentioned (that got done) were 10s. How do we know? They got done.
This is where learning yourself is key. Telling yourself the truth is the skill you need to cultivate. By using the language of a 10 vs 6, you can easily see which will get done. Now, let’s look at a 7, or an 8 on the scale of commitment. You may still be able to decipher if you have the sufficient level of “want to” or not with that gap.
But find a 9.5 or a 9.9, and things get tricky. 9.9s are killers, because they look so compelling. We feel so earnest about our precious 9.9. But once you see that sliver of light between a 9.9 and a 10, you see the difference between done and… not so much.
Once you are willing to get honest you can go ahead: make a resolution, set a goal. Once you know it is a “Hell yes, I’m totally in” goal, you will get the support, find the tool, and get it done.
Then relegate all other platitudes you offer yourself to the scrap heap, and focus on what really matters. Happy New Year!