On New Year’s Day Sunday the preacher asked who made new year’s resolutions. My hand shot up. And then I looked around…no one else made resolutions!
I was shocked. Floored.
My in-laws sitting next to me slightly raised their hands after I raised mind. Of course, during our new year’s dinner I made them make resolutions. (And after obsessively waving my arm in church with a very proud smile creased on my face I did notice a few others put their hands up tentatively.)
I have always made resolutions on January 1st. It’s more than tradition, it’s a way of living my best life.
This past year I’ve read over 40 books within the self-help/communications/business genres and if I had to condense all their lessons into one bottom line message, it’s this: Make focused goals and deliberately practice to reach those goals.
(All books in this post I have read and recommend. If you click the link on the book title and purchase the book through Amazon, I do get a small percentage of the sale. Thanks for supporting DHH!)
2 Methods to Help Change Your Life and Achieve Your Goals
One of the greatest books on goal making that I’ve read is called The One Thing by Gary Keller. The way they formulate goals is through a chronological pyramid of sorts based on this focusing question: “What’s the ONE thing you can do, such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
Of course, to answer this question you need to decide on your main goal in life or in a specific area such as spiritually, physically, family, community or work.
If you don’t have a main goal (or if you say you have no passion about anything), that is something you will have to work out on your own.
I don’t think people are born with a passion in terms of what they should do in life, such as what career path you choose. I know some would vehemently argue with that. Sure, being tall might predispose you to want to play basketball. But skills and talent are developed through life, we’re not born with it. Because of this, I do think everyone regardless of race, IQ and skill has the ability to accomplish marvelous and momentous achievements in life through focus and determination.
Those who achieve greatness in this life, did so because they truly believed in something. And the main reason you lack success or are despondent– afraid of life, afraid of failure, afraid of other people–is because the fictitious stories you tell yourself about your skills and intellect.
You can be great, if you adamantly think you can be great.
How to Change Your Mindset
The greatest pitfall people make when trying to reach a resolution or goal, is trying to change their actions without changing their mindset.
So whether you are looking to lose weight or to get a raise at work, your goal should start with a mindset change.
Just changing your mindset can create an insane shift in your life. When you renovate your mind with positivity, the world outside changes.
It’s as if Mother Nature and goodwill are ionically attracted to you when you turn on the positive inside.
Your attitude can be your greatest asset or your greatest downfall. It’s your choice.
Do not use your situation as a crutch for your pessimism. As Charles Swindoll said: “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
I know…telling you to change your mindset in a sense is equivocal to a teacher telling you to study harder to improve your grade.
Good in theory but lacking in constructive explanation.
To change your mindset is no easy task. You have to continually renew your mind (as the Bible so perfectly put). Unlike resolutions where you quit a week after new year’s day because you slipped up, don’t feel bad if you constantly battle to change your mindset.
Changing your mindset is not something to be reached, per se. It’s like hygiene. If you shower every day this year, it will not keep you clean the year after if you don’t continue to shower on a regular basis.
There are several great books on mindset but this particular one will help you take steps towards changing your mindset and why it’s so critical to your happiness and success.
In The Upside to Stress, another great book on mindset but geared more towards those who struggle with stress or anxiety, author Dr. Kelly McGonigal talks about using a ‘mindset innovation’ when someone is about to approach a stressful situation by turning your thinking from threat, “this test is worth half my grade”, to challenge, “what a great opportunity to demonstrate my knowledge.”
This isn’t about getting rid of the struggle, it’s about embracing it with a positive attitude.
Changing your mindset is really the foundation to reaching any goal.
Want to lose weight? Stop complaining about how you’ll have to give up all your favorite foods. Write a new script for your life and choose to view healthy food as yummy. Every new healthy food is an adventure. I’m sure there are healthy foods out there that you can find enjoyable. After you have developed the habit of eating healthy, you might be surprised how you don’t miss the unhealthy foods you thought you couldn’t live without.
But it all starts with your mindset.
How to Deliberately Practice to Reach Your Goals
I’m sure you’ve heard of the acronym “SMART” in goal making – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. Following this acronym should help you make a goal, but I want to show you is how to achieve your goals.
Outside of changing your mindset to create new scripts for your life, the second step to help you achieve your goal is through deliberate practice.
Yes, practice means you may occasionally fail. Experience and understanding is what you get when you fail. So embrace it…change your mindset regarding failure 😉
The best book I’ve read regarding deliberate practice is Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. The book outlines several experiments regarding succeeding in a field and becoming an expert or mastering a skill.
The premise of the book is that the right, systematic practice over a period of time will inevitably make you a master at a certain skill. Now there are caveats. It’s hard to be successful at basketball if you’re a short female. And it’s hard to use deliberate practice to be successful in a field that is constantly changing or is unexplored.
However, for things like losing weight, becoming a golf champion, and playing piano like a master can all be achieved through deliberate practice.
This book contributed a lot to my belief that you can achieve whatever you want.
So, what is deliberate practice. It may be easier to understand by explaining first what it is not. Deliberate practice is not just doing the activity every day. We assume the 10,000 hour rule of how long it takes to become an expert applies if we are just doing that thing for that long. But it’s not. Playing golf every day will not help you win The Masters. What will help you win is deliberately practicing certain aspects of golf that you will need to improve to win The Masters. This focused practice is usually done with a trainer or someone who has mastered that skill.
This means, the best way to help you reach your goal to lose weight is to hire a trainer who has lost weight as well. If you want to go pro in football, hire a trainer who has played football successfully or has been trained in certain aspect that could improve the areas you need help to improve.
This doesn’t mean you need the best of the best trainer or teacher right away. Your friend who enjoys golf can teach you the basics. But eventually you’ll need someone with more expertise, and so on, if you want to win The Masters.
It’s important to get a trainer or instructor who can point out the specific areas that will help you improve and then give you specific training to improve that area.
There is so much more I could write about ways to help you achieve your goals but I hope this post has encouraged you to not just make goals and resolutions but offer applicable ways for you to reach those goals.