Approximately 50% of the population makes New Year’s resolutions. Of them, only 10% realize their goals (Psychology Today).
To make major changes in your life, you need to make some bold moves. But “bold” does not mean drastic and sudden. I like to think of being bold as “being courageous” and embracing a level of discomfort in order to grow.
Waking up a half hour earlier than usual and walking for 30 minutes might be uncomfortable, but doing so on a consistent basis for six months or more will undoubtedly result in favorable change.
One of the main reasons people don’t reach their goals is because they set unrealistic objectives. They plan on making radical changes through extreme acts. In reality, all it takes is a bit of courage to expand one’s comfort zone and to do it consistently…kind of like erosion: slow and steady.
“Perfection is the death of all good things, perfection is the death of pleasure, it’s the death of productivity, it’s the death of efficiency, it’s the death of joy. Perfection is just a bludgeon that goes around murdering everything good. Somebody once said I was disingenuous for saying this, because surely I try to make my work as good as it can be. And that’s absolutely true — but there’s a really big difference between ‘as good as it can be’ and perfection.” – TED, September 2015
When I worked at a startup company years ago and things got stressful, my supervisor would wail, “We’re just set up to fail!” She cried real tears once, when it looked like we were going to miss delivering our McDonald’s Kids’ Meal prize on time.
The deadlines were tight and stringent. “We’re set up to fail!”
There was a bug in the system. “We’re set up to fail!”
The art department misunderstood the engineering department. “We’re set up to fail!”
In actuality, she meant, “I’m afraid we’re going to fail!”
In the end, the entire startup did fail. But our department never did, we simply met our goals with a lot of stress. The constant cry of the “sky is falling” unnerved the team. Projects that could have been accomplished with fun and enjoyment were, instead, completed in solemn urgency.
Isn’t this what many people do at work and life? Aren’t a lot of people motivated by fear? Fear of failure, fear of losing money, fear of losing face.
People can be motivated by fun and awe and still get it done.
I’m reading a synopsis of the book Unleash the Warrior Within. It’s written by a former Navy SEAL Michael “Mack” Machowicz. Obviously, he’s quite a self-disciplined, productive individual: host+ producer of Discovery Channel’s “Future Weapons”, author of Develop the Focus, Discipline, Confidence, and Courage You Need to Achieve Unlimited Goals and he possesses multiple black belts in martial arts.
One surprising piece of advice he gives (considering he’s a former Navy SEAL!): pursue your objective at 80%, not 100%. Why? Because you can’t give 100% long-term. You’ll burn out. This made me relieved because that is what I already do.
Naturally, clarity of your life’s ambition will help you get there. But lucidity of your vision will also foster creativity and cultivate resilience. For example, I want to help people (children and adults) feel empowered and be the best they can be through my writing and teaching. I applied for a job that would have helped me reach even more (students) than the 90 I help now. I received a letter of rejection and felt pretty awful. Until…
I realized there are many other ways to achieve my ultimate goal. I’m excited and energized all over again. “Failing” is just another way to readjust your road.
As Robert Frost infamously wrote:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.*
His point: know that there are more ways to get there and whatever you choose, you’ll be just fine.
*from Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Less Traveled”