“New Year’s resolutions rarely work, because good intentions don’t often survive a collision with reality.” –Seth Godin
You have no doubt heard of the term “vicious cycle”. It’s that incredibly frustrating experience of repeating the same patterns over and over with less than desirable outcomes. It’s “vicious” because every time you think you have outsmarted the cycle, somehow there it is again. It can seem like there is no way out!
The good news is that it is also possible to consciously create a “cycle of success”. The cycle of success is what can help you avoid those unpleasant “collisions with reality” Seth Godin refers to by instead adapting given reality.
In thinking about my own successes and failures this last year I began to see a pattern. With each success I completed a cycle of 5 practices below at least once, sometimes more than once, for the same intention or goal. I call this the “Cycle of Success”. On the other hand, with each thing I failed to do or failed in my attempt to do I unwittingly took an “off-ramp” from the Cycle of Success by failing to complete one or more of these practices.
Get Clear: Clarity is power. Get clear about what (the outcome) and why (why this outcome is worth pursuing) before you begin anything.
Narrow Your Focus: Progress requires a sufficient concentration of effort. When you find you are having trouble making progress no matter how hard you work consider you may need to narrow your focus even more.
Do the Work: Be mindful of confusing activity with actual work. Consider what the most important actions you must take to make progress and invest your energy in doing those. Working very hard while making little progress is an indication you may not be doing the [important] work. If you want to fully understand what I mean by “do the work” I suggest you read Do the Work by Steven Pressfield.
Pull the Weeds: Our minds are the number one impediment to our success. Don’t believe what you think! Mind chatter can be an impediment to your personal success, just like weeds can be an impediment to an abundant harvest from a garden. When you experience being stuck or stopped consider it is time to pause and go inward to “pull the weeds” in your mind before you can get the work done.
Celebrate and Learn: Being able to see and acknowledge your progress will fuel your motivation to keep going when you need it most. Mark your progress periodically by celebrating your successes, acknowledging both what you accomplished and what you have learned/how you have grown throughout the year. When it comes to your failures big and small there is still much to celebrate – you took action, perhaps even took a risk, and learned something in the process.
My biggest stumbling block personally in 2012 was insufficiently narrowing my focus to make satisfying progress in all I set out to accomplish. The “dark side” of my intense curiosity is I all too often take on too much and/or allow too many distractions. This will be one of key things I work on this year.
What about you? What will you be at work on to ensure you establish your personal cycle of success for 2013?