Everyone hopes that 2017 will be amazing, free from the uncertainty, procrastination and frustrations that riddled 2016, there will be so much more time and …. fun!
We expect more luck to accompany January’s clean slate, but why? Why do we deserve it to be any different just because the calendar flips over? No matter how many healthy cookbooks, foreign language sets, or gym memberships you got for Christmas, your 2016 will repeat itself unless you change your thinking.
Having worked on the psychology of success with elite athletes and executives for the last decade, I’ve interviewed these champions, coaches and experts in performance to capture the secrets of their success – now they are available to you.
Having worked on the psychology of success with elite athletes and executives for the last decade, our editorial partner Sporting Edge , has interviewed those champions, coaches and experts in performance to capture the secrets of their success. From this extensive experience, here are 7 key insights that you can action in your own careers to achieve your own personal goals in 2017.
1. Own It – Be the Boss
In order to change anything, you have to take ownership for it. Champions take ownership because they want to, not because they have to. They imagine and visualise themselves reaching new levels of performance and find reasons why breaking the record, getting their first international cap or winning the gold medal will be so rewarding. This personal quest gives them the motivation and discipline to do whatever it takes to achieve their dream.
By passively hoping the world will deal you a better hand after Christmas you are wallowing in your comfort zone rather than being a leader. The world’s best performers will grab the New Year by the scruff of the neck and take control as if they are the CEO of their own performance company. 2017 won’t happen to them, they go out and make it happen. As soon as you adopt this mindset, every decision you make raises or lowers your share price – you make the choices and will either celebrate or regret the consequences.
2. Set Clear Goals
For most people, having the intention to move jobs, lose weight or have a better work life balance seems enough. These happy thoughts may feel nice but champions judge themselves by their actions not their intentions, so clarity is the name of the game.
Targets are a lot easier to achieve when you identify exactly what they are and why they are important to you.
The first step is to think about the goal like a business plan by setting the tangible outcome such as the target weight, the ideal working week or the ideal salary and sector and then work backwards from there.
The ideal plan has a weekly schedule of activities which you can measure. So rather than worry about whether you will achieve your beach body next August, you focus on the shorter term weekly plan that once achieved builds the confidence and discipline you need to drive forward.
3. Prepare to Fail
Now that you’re on the wagon, you need to stay there even when it gets wobbly. As humans we are imperfect and inconsistent performers, we need to accept that we are not computers with binary inputs and outputs, there are emotional forces at work too. The key is to predict the times and places where you might be most vulnerable and build in contingencies. A great example if your goal is losing weight is ordering your weekly online shopping when you are hungry and stressed, this will only lead to clicking the sugary comfort food options that you are trying to avoid. You just made resisting those treats twice as hard because now they are inside your house!
If you committed to a more active lifestyle for the year ahead after demolishing a 5kg turkey, the key time will be on that frosty Tuesday morning when the gym seems a hundred miles and three duvets away. Getting your training gear ready by the door with your alarm out of arms reach could boost your success rate as could meeting a friend at the gym. The comfort zone kid talks of their cold and restless night, whereas the champion makes realistic plans not excuses.
4. Measure it and Think in Ink
Many of us are so used to business plans and performance reviews at work but how many of us use the same approach with our own performance? How come we can develop a three-year strategy for our sales targets but not for our own lifestyles?
With so many great apps and pieces of technology around at the moment, it’s easy to track your activity and progress. This is not only brilliant for setting reminders and raising personal accountability but it also gives a shot of motivation when you see the outputs of your work on screen.
If you are going to make next year different, quantify it, write down the results and keep your progress visible around your house and office. By regularly committing these things to paper, you double your chance of progressing them.
5. Time to Stop and Shorten
Once we are up and running, our new routines are starting to form. We are prioritising our new behaviours and it feels good. As our workflow starts to pick up in January our days start to swell and we reach a pressure point. Suddenly our exercise time or the healthy food shopping seems less important than the urgent deadline our boss is shouting about. We have a choice, we either revert to the 2016 order of events or we look for time elsewhere in the 168 hours each week. ‘There is no time’ is a common but poor excuse, perhaps we should swap it for ‘I have confused priorities!’ So we need new tactics for how we spend our time like cutting every meeting from the diary dictated 60 minutes to 39 minutes, if you’re wondering why 39, why 60? Imagine if we switched off email alerts and accessed them in 3 batches through the day rather than being constantly distracted by the ping in the corner of the screen. The time will always be there for our priorities we just need to make sure that our priorities are scheduled first. Everything else can be shortened, side-lined or stopped if we want to judge ourselves by our impact instead of our ‘busyness’
6. Choose your Friends Wisely
If it’s true that we become most like the five people we spend most time with then we need to choose our friends wisely during this time of renewal. Imagine the ambitious CEO spending the first days of launching a new product with people who were negative, made excuses and resisted change. It’s the same when it comes to making progress in our New Year goals, we need the positive reinforcement, the challenge and support from people who share the same mindset and aspirations. This is not to say that you need a completely new set of friends, it’s just to be aware of those who will try and encourage you to stay like them. The irony is that they may want the same things, they just don’t have your discipline and focus so they will try and take that away.
7. Who do you Think you Are?
Ultimately, your perception of who you are will drive your success.
To maintain a new lifestyle you need to move from the transactional focus from each meal or training session as a chore to seeing as part of who you are now.
Whether it’s in wellbeing or sport we all see ourselves operating at a certain performance level and when we over achieve we can become complacent and fall back to the average and when we fall below it, we fight to get back up to our normal.
The best performers in the world don’t wait for other people’s judgement, they use their weekly progress to fuel their discipline and motivation to keep striving. Gold medals are won in the shadows not on the podium and as 2017 rolls into reality – we can learn their secrets too.
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Sporting Edge is a high-performance consultancy which solves business challenges using the winning mindset from sport. Having worked with and interviewed many of the world’s leading sports leaders and teams, Sporting Edge has created a game changing digital library of insights to inspire and educate businesses and industry professionals on the requirements needed to achieve success in business through performance.
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