With the beginning of the year, the time to make new resolutions comes. For some people, it’s actually a list of wishes, for others it’s about to plan the next steps towards a vision. A compass to guide their decisions.
For that vision to be accomplished, we need to find out our why. Why should we want to go there? What’s in it for us? If we want more than scratch the surface of our lives, we should look at our motives.
This is important because once we have our why, finding our motivation is way easier. I think that no matter how far we want to go, we can’t go a thousand miles away without walking the first inches. Knowing that it could take time to go to where we want and maintain the effort in time is what makes the difference. This is impossible to do without the right motivation. At least, in the beginning.
The first inches
Starting an engine is, at times, more difficult than keeping it running. Turning towards the right direction, the correct one for us, and start walking is the most difficult part. For starters, it takes courage to take a new road. Or even try to find it.
It’s in these moments when having the right motivation can help us to begin the journey, to walk the first few inches. And yet, it’s not enough to complete the travel. Unless we transform motivation into something else, we’ll likely fail. Think, for example, of the smoker who wants to quit. Maybe at the beginning they could make the effort and resist temptations, thinking that it’s good for their health. If, after a while, they don’t find the correct habits, it’s likely they fall again into the old vice. When we need to sustain an effort over time, motivation is not the only answer.
Building the habit
When I lecture my students about organizational culture, I always say that culture eats strategy for breakfast (thanks, Mr. Drucker). Thus, if you want to make changes in your company, you better ensure the culture is aligned. Otherwise, you will have a beautiful designed strategy, good for nothing.
It happens the same with our habits. No matter how motivated we are at the beginning, only our habits can make us sustain the correct amount of effort in the right direction.
When we build a habit, we are rewiring our brain, finding a new way to do things without thinking. At that moment, we can sustain the new behavior with much less effort.
At the beginning of the year, many of us make a list with things we want to achieve have more time with the family, quit smoking, being healthier or get promoted. The only problem with things is that they are not actionable. On the contrary, behaviors are actionable.
Should we write a list with the behaviors we need to achieve our goals? Would it help to make things more attainable?
My new year’s resolution this year has to do with the habits I want to build, and not with the things I want to achieve. Maybe this change of perspective will give me different results. I will tell you in a year time.
Since this is my first post of 2023, let me wish you a happy new year. May this year provide you with experiences that make you happy and fulfilled.