The New Year is the perfect time to re-evaluate your daily practices and make real, lasting change. If you’re already grumbling about how badly last year’s (or this year’s) resolutions turned out, then you’re not alone. I’ve discovered that most people bounce between failure and survival. They may strive for success, but they invariably turn back and head downward. People repeat this pattern with their finances, health, relationships, and in their lives as a whole. How do we break this cycle?
Over time, I’ve realized that a set of habits called “simple daily disciplines” can help us achieve all kinds of success. Already, we each make little decisions daily that may seem insignificant. But if we make small positive choices and take small positive actions each and every day, the results compound over time and lead us to success and happiness.
The Right Way to Set Resolutions
When I talk about "success" in the coming year, I’m talking about joy, love, fulfillment, enthusiasm, improved health, great relationships, financial security, and professional accomplishment. However, don’t get overwhelmed by trying to change too much at one time. That’s a mistake most people make when thinking about goals, whether in the form of New Year’s resolutions or business milestones.
You can’t eat the whole apple in one bite. Keep it simple. Start by writing down a goal in just one area — perhaps your health or your business growth. For the goal to come true, you must make it specific and give it a deadline. The next step is deciding on a set of daily disciplines that will help you achieve that objective. By applying these small actions every day, you’ll see success like you never have before.
What Successful People Do Every Day
The truth is, what you do today matters. What you do every day matters. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking one brownie won’t hurt your weight-loss goal or a day without social media engagement won’t affect your site traffic. Successful people do the small things that seem to make no difference in the act of doing them. And they make the choice to keep doing them over and over and over. Because one brownie today, one ice cream cone tomorrow, and one chocolate bar on Friday all add up to significant deviation from your nutritional plan at the end of the week.
If I could get you to make one change, it would be this vital shift in perspective: Your little choices add up to big results.
Do one simple discipline each day that brings you closer to your New Year’s goal, and make a habit of doing some sort of daily review of these activities, either through a journal, list, or work with a friend, colleague, or coach. Taking the time to do this extra accountability step can make all the difference between defeat and victory.
For each area of life where you may set New Year’s goals, there are tried and true daily disciplines you can do. Here are a few examples to get you started. If you want to...
- Save money: Take a few dollars out of a paycheck each week — put it into savings and leave it there.
- Get fit: Do a few minutes of exercise every day — and don’t skip it.
- Stay motivated: Read 10 pages of an inspiring book every day.
- Nurture relationships: Take a moment every day to tell someone how much you appreciate him or her.
- Practice gratitude: Every day, write a list of three things for which you’re grateful.
- Keep growing: Participate in a seminar or take a class.
The Power of Time
Once you’ve established your goals and started taking daily action, it’s important to remember patience. In today’s society, people want immediate results, but my experience shows that few people are willing to be patient and take simple daily actions over a period of time.
Remember: The Grand Canyon — arguably one of nature’s most beautiful masterpieces — wasn’t created quickly, but as a result of water running along the ground over some six million years. If you’re willing to be patient and apply some simple daily disciplines to your everyday life, then success may be even closer than you think. You can turn around a losing streak and not only meet but exceed your New Year’s goals (and your goals at any other time of the year). Even if you don’t accomplish everything on your to-do list in one day, the fact that you are following a plan on the road to success speaks volumes!