Traditionally, January 1 is the time for new beginnings. The New Year is often filled with resolutions for new goals and different behaviors. For other people, it’s September, when the new school year comes with a new teacher and hope for a better year than the last.
Until now, you might have equated the idea of a fresh start with an eye toward your past successes or failures. The Covid19 pandemic puts this in a very different light.
Like another novel in a series (there are seven Harry Potter books in the series), our next step is a new book, with new possibilities and an opportunity to look at things differently. While not all of us can simply ‘roll with it’ – that is what we are being called on to do: make the best of a new day and share our optimism with others.
Stepping forward into something new requires discipline, a skill much like any other muscle in your body. It needs exercise and conditioning to be in shape. If you don’t have much will power, calling on it to suddenly be in terrific condition now may be asking too much.
You want to avoid sliding back into old habits and making vague promises about how things will be different are not useful. Saying you want to manage your stress better is too fuzzy and not the same as developing the specific habit of turning the email off after 7:00 pm, or getting outside for a 30-minute walk every other day. While many people include eating better, losing weight, quitting smoking, cutting back on liquor intake, and having better work/life balance as goals, creating a specific goal can make you 50% more likely to actually accomplish your resolution. Rather than focus on self-improvement, you might want to focus on professional improvement and connect with your employees every other week for performance management. Make the ‘new normal’ something that is important to you with a benefit that is tangible.
If you want to increase the likelihood of your new beginning becoming your new normal successfully, try these simple steps:
One Not Some – Choose one thing to do differently. Stack the deck in your favor by putting all of your energy into accomplishing one key change, starting right now. Instead of dispersing your energy and willpower, focusing on one major change in your life increases the odds of your success.
Build on Small Wins – When the doctor tells you to lose 20 pounds, you might laugh in her face. But when asked if you can lose 5 pounds, it’s a much more doable target. Start with easy victories to build on.
Share – Telling others about your new practice/strategy/product/
Rewards Matter – You want the new behavior to have an impact but it may take a while to see the results of your efforts. Rewarding yourself along the way can keep you motivated. Focus on progress rather than perfection or total goal attainment.
The path to future success is not straight and true. Setbacks can happen and there may be unforeseen circumstances that made the future impossible to predict. Strong willpower is a learned skill, not a personality trait. You can get better with practice.
The first quarter of 2020 didn’t go the way any us thought it would. We now have the chance to create something that takes the present challenges into account.
Different just might end up being better.