New Year – New Habits

leadership developmentWe all know that doing something the same way over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, yet, how often do we actually do this and get frustrated when it doesn’t work?

The reason I bring this up is that most of my clients are working on new goals for the New Year, which is important, but it’s also important to see what didn’t work out that you intended to do or accomplish in the previous year. Putting down that you’re going to lose 10 pounds without changing behavior, is fruitless. As is setting a financial or strategic goal that is not rooted in actual behavior that will make it happen.

Keys to Accomplishing Your New Year’s Goals

First, there is no point in beating yourself up for the things that didn’t happen last year. The reality is that there is “gold in them thar hills” and by examining what behavior was at the root of the lack of results. If you can identify the behavior, you can then modify or change it to get different results. Spend some time discussing this with your team. Consider what led to the “non-achievement” of results and see what has to be different going forward. Now you can focus on a behavior that can become a habit.

Habits are formed by repetitive behaviors. I would like to say we are more evolved, but the reality of it is that it takes 30 days to form a habit and most often, we are unconscious that it’s happening. Every morning you stop off at Starbuck’s for your blah, blah, blah complicated drink that has 800 calories. And you pick up a pastry that now, at least in Seattle, has the calorie count glaring at us as we select it. We’re worth it we say. It’s going to be a hard day. I’ll skimp at lunch or dinner. After 30 days, we are going to get the giant drink and pastry without even a word to ourselves and not to have it would seem like sacrilege. The consequences are not only do you not reach the desired weight loss, you actually gain.

Same goes for the office. You are in a hurry. You rush in and don’t greet your assistant, receptionist or workmate. No dire consequences so you do it a few more days and this saves you time. Now it’s a habit and the consequences are that the office rumor is that you are rude, mad, going to lay people off, etc. Productivity goes down and you have no idea what you just did and are now married to your new “habit.”

As habits are formed, they can also be unformed. Pick a different behavior and practice it for 30 days. It will feel awkward at first, like learning to ride a bike, but after 30 days, it will feel like the most natural thing in the world – and you will likely get the results you were looking for. For the New Year, create some new habits, or break the old ones, that will lead to making 2016 a great year for you.