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. This also builds your confidence level in getting closer to the results you are looking for. As your confidence level builds so does your belief system get stronger and stronger giving you the realizations you truly can achieve your goal.
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. The human brain is wired to favour routine over novelty. Work with it. That 40% of what we do is anchored in habit. Seek to create Keystone habits that draw additional success habits that assist us in carrying out our goals. You want to get into an automatic way of doing things, small step by small step that compounds into big results. William James the father of psychology was quoted as saying: “Little by little you build your power”
That little stuff compounds 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. Make a point to mentally check in on a regular basis during the day to focus in on your original intentions and the big prize you have envisioned. Forget the mental timer to examine your past accomplishments. What matters is how you mentally design your future going forward. You do this on a continuous basis in the present moments you dedicate to reflection and recalibration. Patience and persistence together will reach any achievement, do not doubt it. Creating a path of doable micro-stepping and internalizing the process with emotion gives you confidence and beliefs it can be done. It’s your easy button to achievement.
Gary Cerantola is a certified DDI Facilitator and an authorized YB12 Business Coach for Critel Professional Services, www.critel.ca