We sometimes see our willpower as an indicator of how disciplined or successful we can be. Yet, willpower is a limited resource no matter your profession, education, or degree of dedication. If the goals you set at the beginning of the year require too much willpower, you’ll run out quickly. This is one of the reasons why so many New Year’s resolutions are given up on early in the year.
So, if successful people don’t have more willpower, what enables them to sustain a longer term effort towards harder goals and get better results? Here are three keys to success that will provide you with more positive momentum and less need to rely on your limited supply of willpower:
1. Ground Your Goals in Your Values
While we don’t have control of all aspects of our lives and some of our goals are imposed upon us by others, knowing your values allows you to line up your goals with your joys, desires, and strengths, fueling you with natural positive energy.
For example, if you value being warm, cozy and comfortable like I do, then curling up in a blanket by the fire each night with a notebook to jot down ideas can get you going on projects requiring new ideas, thought, or analysis. Making a favorite comfort food for lunch can start your afternoon out on a positive note. Sitting in a jacuzzi for 15 minutes after a workout can make you want to exercise. Incorporating the things that make you truly happy into your work routine can create energy and motivation to stretch yourself in areas that challenge you. A quick way to figure out your top values is to identify your happiest moments. We include this exercise in our downloadable workbook that you can find here.
2. Focus on Growth Rather than Accomplishments
It’s natural to think of goals in terms of “the things I want to get done” each year, but “the things I want to get better at,” or what I call growth goals are actually more important because they help increase your overall effectiveness, as well as your happiness and well-being. When you accomplish something, you can check it off a list, which is great, and sometimes it’s a step towards something larger. But it’s easy to fall into a pattern of getting a lot of things done while also having a sinking feeling that nothing is really changing. In order for your life to really change, you have to change, and as you change, how you get things done will change.
For example, compare the goal of making one hundred sales calls to the goal of getting better at having a sales conversation. You might be able to force yourself through the sales calls using a lot of willpower, and you might even grow your revenue as a result. But if you dread making sales calls, at some point you will run out of willpower and stop making them. Then you’ll have to muster up the willpower to do them again, while struggling with procrastination. This ongoing cycle will not only limit your capacity to generate revenue, but it will also make what could otherwise be a delightful work experience miserable and draining.
On the other hand, if your focus is on getting better at having a sales conversation, you’ll take a completely different approach. You’ll find people you admire who do sales well and watch and learn from them. You’ll pick apart your process and identify what parts of the conversation you dread and what parts you actually enjoy. You’ll try new ways of approaching the conversation and practice until you feel more confident. As you do this work, you’ll start seeing every sales call as an opportunity to get better, whether it ends in a sale or not. As you make your calls, you’ll get more comfortable and confident, which will make you dread the calls less, and eventually you’ll land on a process that is enjoyable. Once the calls are enjoyable, you’ll begin to do them regularly. With time and practice, not only have you removed the stress and misery from your job, but you’ve also gotten more effective, and are likely to bring in MUCH more revenue.
To set a growth goal, start with the sentence “I want to get better at” and fill in the blank. You can still have what I call “accomplishment” goals, or things you want to get done. But the more you focus on growth goals, the more you’ll improve your effectiveness and the more successful you’ll grow overall.
3. Use a Support Group
Studies show over and over that people are several times more successful when they work with a support and accountability group. The easiest way to do this is to find a friend or two who are willing to meet with you once per week, even for just 15 minutes, and talk about what’s important to each of you in terms of goals you are working on. Check in with each other each week sharing what you want to focus on and things you’ve learned along the way, including the obstacles you’ve run into and where you’ve struggled.
A couple of ground rules with these groups:
- Don’t get so caught up in holding each other accountable that people stop wanting to come when they fail. It turns out that when the group is completely supportive of each other natural accountability kicks in, and we thrive knowing we will be supported whether or not we achieve what we planned. This also gives us a safe place to talk about why we are struggling and figure out next steps.
- Don’t give each other advice. Support each other, listen to each other, and feel free to share ideas and experiences, but set clean boundaries in the group so that each person is entirely responsible for their own process.
The lighter the weekly meeting is, the more positive energy it generates, and the more it motivates everyone to stay on track. If you need help with this, one great way to get a group started is to take your group of friends through one of our bootcamps. We always encourage our groups to continue to meet weekly on their own after the bootcamp ends, making it the perfect springboard for ongoing collaboration, support and growth.
If you’re interested in learning more about this topic or finding out about our upcoming bootcamps, please reach out. You can contact Nahid via e-mail at email@example.com or call 714-931-2133.