We all know good habits can really build a persion or destroy a person. Here are 3 important habits shared by SparkPeople CEO, Chris Downie, in an online interview. (For full interview click here)
If you had to identify 3 important habits that you’ve acquired that had helped you to become what you are today – what would they be?
Great, question! Here are three I can think of:
Drive to Continually Improve Myself
This originated from the desire to overcome anxiety. I think the best way to improve yourself is through doing something – getting real life experience at something. Of course, reading great authors and other material can give you a good head start.
A Real Focus On Execution Once I Set Goals
Setting big goals is easy, reaching them is much harder. One of my favorite motivational techniques is to build a vision collage. I did this when I was at P&G when I set a goal to become an entrepreneur. I cut out pictures that represented my goals and hung that picture in my office. Then, anytime I was feeling down, I could look at those aspirational pictures and keep my real goals in mind. I’m also a fan of telling people about your goals.
At SparkPeople, from day 1 our goal was to help millions of people. This sounded ludicrous at the beginning. But, now I’m starting to talk about increasing our potential to helping tens of millions of people!
A Revelation that “Your Daily Actions and Words Impact More People Than You’ll Ever Realize!”
This is what eventually led to SparkPeople and my goal to help other people. I came up with this quote when working at P&G. A co-worker started using my program. She then transferred to another location and I didn’t see her for about 6 months, but stayed in touch via email.
When I saw her again, she had lost 50 pounds. She told me she had been waiting to see me in person to tell me I had changed her life. She had started a walking group at her location where the others said, “Pat, if you can do it, we can do it!” So, my small actions to improve myself had helped this co-worker and then she was motivating other people. In other words, nobody can tell the ultimate impact once they help someone.
Do you know how to keep a New Year’s Resolution? Don’t make one. The majority of resolutions do not work. There are lots of reasons for this: they are too big; they are too small; they are phrased in a certain-to-fail way. (Yes, the phrasing of a resolution is an art form.) Instead of making a resolution, try changing how you approach your life. Here are four steps that are way easier than any resolution you are contemplating.
If you’re really going to do it, do it now. What’s stopping you? If you don’t have the focus to start changing your life the day you decide to change your life, then you can bet you won’t be able to do it a week from now. People who are serious about a goal don’t put the goal off. People who put off goals have the wrong goals in mind. Tell yourself you are going to make an improvement in your life right now. This minute. Then keep reading to figure out how to do that.
1. Pick one small goal.
Big goals entail lots of little goals, which is why big goals fail. If you want to wake up early, for example, the first thing you have to do is stop accepting invitations for stuff that will get you to bed late. Getting up early is relatively easy if you go to bed early, but going to bed early is relatively hard in a world where few people do it. And, you have to do it every night to train your body. Big goals need to be broken down into pieces and tackled this way. This is why the classic New Year’s resolutions – lose weight, exercise more, eat better – are guaranteed failures.
2. Give the self-discipline part of your brain a workout.
If you want to do something and you’re not doing it, it’s an issue of self-discipline, right? The good news is that self-discipline is something that snowballs. If you have a little of it, you get more. It’s sort of like “the rich get richer” – the self-disciplined become more self-disciplined. This is because self-discipline is like a muscle in your brain, and in many of us, it’s a weak muscle. It’s no wonder: It wasn’t a high-priority as people evolved. The impulse for immediate gratification (food) and the need to fight or flee (survival) were stronger than anything in the newer, front part of the brain where delayed gratification (self-discipline) occurs.
So you have to exercise the self-control mechanisms in your brain to make them stronger than the immediate gratification/fight or flight part of your brain. To this end, if you do one, very small thing (like, say, make your bed every morning), then other things will happen without trying. This is because it takes concentration (mindfulness is the buzzword here) to get yourself to change your behavior, even if it’s something seemingly as simple as making your bed. This small step-and the concentration that’s required-stays with you and begins to help you make other changes. So instead of making a big resolution, resolve to change one small thing about your day, every day.
3. Tell someone.
Private goals are excuses to not do them. If you don’t tell people it’s because you don’t want to fail. When you win a prize, you tell people, right? Because it’s certain. So why not act like your increase in self-discipline is certain, and tell people about it. Act like someone who is successful, and you’ll become someone who is successful. It’s oft-told advice, I know, but it works. So start believing in yourself. Note that telling people your big goal is actually detrimental to you. But telling friends the small things you are doing right now, on a daily basis, is useful.
Sure, your friends might wonder why you’re telling them you’ve started making your bed. But so what? It might open the path for conversations about other things you’re tackling as a way to achieve goals. And, ultimately, talking about these things, however little they are, will help you succeed.
4. Hang around successful people.
Successful people don’t need New Year’s resolutions. People who understand goal setting are successful. They have daily to-do lists and they prioritize their goals for their life. And, most importantly, they attack big goals by breaking them down. They don’t need New Year’s resolutions because they are making resolutions all year long. And keeping them. Find these people. They’re easy to spot. Hang around with them, and skirt the New Years resolution frenzy in favor of a well-examined life.
Use Visualization to Achieve Your Goals Faster
GoalsOnTrack has a cool vision board tool that you can use to do achievement visualization online. Simply upload some pictures for your goals, and whenever you have a few minutes, you can launch the tool and visualize when all your goals are accomplished. That’s a great and fun way to reach your goals faster.
Give it a try and visualize your goals today. Find out more >>
There are a number of good approaches to take if you find that you are having difficulty in completing one of your goals, particularly if you begin to fundamentally doubt whether the goal is achievable or worth the effort.
- First, don’t get discouraged.
It’s worth noting that many of life’s most difficult accomplishments are also some of the most worthwhile. And the most noteworthy accomplishments are, by definition, not common. That’s because, if something were easy, then everyone would be doing it and it would no longer be very noteworthy. Not only is there nothing wrong with taking on tough challenges, many believe there is something wrong with only taking on easy goals that require no real effort or growth.
- Recognize partial accomplishment.
Partial accomplishment is still accomplishment. Suppose you’re living a sedentary lifestyle and you set a goal to start running 10 miles every week. If you only manage to run eight miles most weeks, then it’s important to recognize that this is a huge improvement over running none at all and that you have been much more successful than if you had never set the goal in the first place. Acknowledging partial success is very important if you intend to set challenging or lofty goals.
- Break large, difficult goals into smaller, manageable goals.
Large, difficult, or complex goals can be both overwhelming and discouraging if progress does not come quickly. The solution to both of these is to break the big goal into smaller goals, actually creating a separate goal plan for each part. By shelving some of the pieces until a later date, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed or discouraged.
- Use your personal support group.
When appropriate, call on trusted family and friends to help if they can, even if it just means lending encouragement (though be careful to avoid naysayers, who sometimes reside in the same house). Try to find people who’ve got first-hand experience doing what you’re doing trying to do. Many people will give time and advice when they meet somebody else who’s curious or passionate about whatever it is they’re passionate about.
- Internalize the lesson of perseverance.
It is usually true that something, no matter how difficult, can be done if someone spends enough time trying to do it. If you think of any goal as requiring a finite number of steps (tasks), then each task completed is one step closer toward completion of the goal. Again, the key is often to break the steps down into what may seem to be absurdly simple tasks, but ones that you know you can complete, thereby making measurable progress and establishing forward momentum.
- Is it ever time to give up?
You are the only one who can decide when enough is enough and that it’s time to move on to something different. Unfortunately, many people give up too soon, and some even establish a tradition of completing 50% of many things but 100% of nothing. Because our mission is to help you “get things done,” and because we strongly believe in the power of perseverance, we naturally encourage you to keep on going.
However, we understand that goals change, as well as the underlying motivations for individual goals. And more importantly, we advocate and encourage balance (over the long-term, at least), meaning that an obsessive focus on one goal could eventually lead to unhealthy or destructive negligence of other aspects of one’s life, such as the classic case in which career obsession leads to one’s neglect of health or family obligations.
So in the interest of promoting healthy balance, we suggest that you frequently take stock of all of your goals, with an eye toward the balanced whole. If, at such a time, you decide that your emphasis needs to be shifted elsewhere for the time being, then consider rescheduling some of your goals (or tasks) for a later date.
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Make Measurable Progress with GoalsOnTrack
One thing that separates GoalsOnTrack from other goal setting products is its progress tracking features. Not only can you track a goal by completion percentage, but also by number of tasks completed, numerical targets such as dollar amount, weight, size, sales, etc. A main benefit of using GoalsOnTrack is that you will make measurable progress on your goals.
Give it a try today. We have 60-day money back guarantee so there is no risk to try.
Check out this great video in which Tony Robbins tells you how to follow through and persist with your goals. One thing Tony talks about is the progress which I feel so strongly about. That’s exactly what GoalsOnTrack was initially created for, tracking goals progress. Anyway check it out, it’s a great video.
We launched a maintenance release over the last weekend. There are some updates and code fixes that you may want to check out:
- Added “View by Status” navigation to the Tasks page so that you can view completed tasks for all goals
- Display planned vs. actual hours on both active and completed tasks
- Fixed a bug in task due date selection field default to 2011 when editing a 2011 task
- Added function to convert a normal goal into a subgoal of another goal
- Added details view for task, accessible via clicking task name link
- Fixed nil class bug in exporting tasks to csv files
We’re working on a few more new features and small improvements. If you have found a bug or have a suggestion, please feel free to let us know.
By Paul Serwin
As we end another year and enter in 2011, we are at the time of year where we reflect upon what was in the past year and look forward to where we are trying to go.
Every December, I set a few days aside for myself to look at how I can integrate the knowledge that I gained into further success for the upcoming year. During this time I evaluate where I am, how I got there, and set my goals for the new year.
Goals are very important because they allow us to take a look at the big picture of where we want to go. Goals are a preview of future events and experiences in your life. They allow us to manage our time better because we will be setting time aside towards achieving our goals.
By having goals and setting out to accomplish them, we no longer have to just hope that our future will be brighter than our past was. Goals motivate us to be more determined and focused on growing our businesses, by giving us the direction we need.
The greatest benefit of setting goals comes from the achievement of them. Whenever you can cross a goal off your list, you will instantly boost your self-confidence. I’ve never met anybody that wasn’t short of euphoric after accomplishing one of their goals, no matter how small or big the feat was.
A few years ago, one of my mentors in sales showed me the most surefire way to achieving your goals, which is the SMART model. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. Integrating this model into your goal-setting will give you a way to evaluate your goals in a way that will help set you up for success.
Make your goals SMART:
Make sure you go into detail about your goals. This is where you will answer the following questions.
*What are you going to do to reach your goal? What are you trying to accomplish?
*Why is this goal important to you?
*How are you going to accomplish this goal?
Make your goal and the steps to reach it as specific as possible. If you know where you’re going, and you know how you’ll get there, what will stop you from achieving your goals?
If you can’t measure your goal, you won’t be able to measure your success. Make sure you set up your goals in a way that you can track and see your progress as you get closer to achievement. Tracking your progress helps motivate to keep you on pace. The only way to finish your goal is by staying on track.
When you set goals that you know that you can easily accomplish, you are going to be focused on finishing them as soon as possible. These goals are a priority to you because of the lack of effort needed to achieve them. When you set a goal that is probably far out of your reach, you probably won’t commit as much effort to them as a goal that would be easier to achieve.
You don’t always want to set easy goals for yourself. The goals that are most satisfying to achieve are the ones that will stretch your abilities. These are the goals that require a stronger level of commitment from you.
When you set goals, you don’t want to stretch yourself too thin. You have to make sure that you have the resources and tools available to you to achieve your dreams. If you’re trying to boost your profits from $100,000 to a million dollars in a year, you have to make sure that you are capable of growing your business that exponentially as well as the capacity to handle that many additional orders.
It’s very easy to shoot for the moon, but if your goals are depending on luck, you need to lower the bar for yourself. If your goals are too difficult you are setting yourself up for failure.
Every goal you set yourself should have a timeframe attached with it. “In 6 months, I want to lose 20 pounds.” Putting an endpoint on it helps with your tracking and gives you a clear finish line to run towards.
Not setting yourself with a deadline will not give you the urgency to start taking action now. I always present my greatest work when I’m under the pressure of a deadline to beat. When I have a project that doesn’t have a concrete endpoint, I usually tend to put it off for as long as possible.
As you can see, the SMART model will not only allow you clearly define everything you achieve, but it also sets you up with a very nice outline of all the tactics that you will need to accomplish what you set.
This weekend (and I urge you to do the same too), I’ll be setting my goals for the upcoming year. I always start with the big picture first, and write out the goals I have for the whole year. From there, I can whittle them down and set 6-month as well as monthly goals that I will need to accomplish to get to my yearly goal. Every day I go through this list and keep myself focused towards making sure that I do at least something every single day towards reaching my goal. Using the SMART model helps me to make my dreams a reality.
What was the most satisfying goal you set out and accomplished this year? What are you aspiring to do next year?
The Fun and Easy Way to Set Your SMART Goals
Writing down your goals on a piece of paper to only throw it away a few days later isn’t fun, nor does it help you in anyway. Instead, try our goal setting software, GoalsOnTrack, it’ll be fun and easy to setup all your goals in a SMART way, and reach them!