Forget the BEHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) for a minute and don’t think practice makes perfect. Think practice makes permanent.
You start by understanding that our will power is finite. It’s like any other muscle we have and as we use it, it depletes, so it will only take you so far in achieving your goal. You can build willpower if you exercise it in a deliberate manner. You also must maintain your willpower reserves so you can use this power when you really need it.
Ever wonder why most people can’t keep new year’s resolutions? They rely solely on will power and eventually succumb to their primal desires. Bad habit triggers constantly bombard us until they ultimately wear down the will power down that we have. Ultimately, we capitulate and fall back into our old ways.
Whether we know it or not, 40% of our behaviours are habits
When we take our conscious thinking off the brain gas pedal we slip into subconscious autopilot. Whatever habits you have engrained in your brain at the time is where your subconscious takes you. Basically, our brains are lazy and they like to run on auto pilot so they can manage other things.
So, what to do?
Success comes from compounding the effects of the little things that most people think are inconsequential and just don’t do.
Take a look at Gretzky. Wayne Gretzky would always tuck in the right side of his jersey. This started when he was six years old playing minor hockey in the ten-year old division. Because Wayne was so small, and the jerseys were so big on him, he’d tuck in the right side of his jersey to compensate. He then kept doing it for the remainder of his hockey career. Superstition or science? I’d say science. High performance athletes, leaders, business people use rituals to put them in a higher state of performance.
Some researchers determine that rituals help us get into a state of deliberate practice, or help us get into deep work.
Rituals, are almost always patterns developed by an external source, and adopted for reasons that might have nothing to do with decision making. Whereas, habits are behaviors that are self-generated. A habit is a decision that someone makes at some point, and then stops making but continues doing.
At the end of the day, when you are creating a goal you want to achieve, make sure it fits with who you are and what’s important to you (your core values). Next, think about how you can break it down into doable small chunks making it easier for the willpower reserves you have built to execute on your goal. Then make sure you develop supporting rituals and habits that you will do just automatically through your subconscious. This will build willpower reserves and enable you to leverage the willpower you do have to get things done. You want to get into a steady rhythm of daily accomplishment that you can create for yourself. William James the father of psychology was quoted as saying: “Little by little you build your power”
Then you take that little stuff and let it grow every day as Jeff Olson talks about in his book “The Slight Edge”. Jeff went from a beach bum to a millionaire building on his little things. Also, remember this. “Catch yourself thinking.” Basically 90% of our thinking is stuck in the past. Your only point of power is in the now, so replace those old thoughts with thoughts that will help support goals that will create the successful future state you desire.
Gary Cerantola is a YB12 Business Coach and Business Advisor for Critel Professional Services, www.critel.ca