As far as popular New Year’s resolutions go, “get organized” is often near the top of the list, right behind “get in shape” and “get out of debt.” The very sad and real truth is that nearly 80% of us will fall off the resolution train by Super Bowl Sunday; and by this time next year, a mere 5% of us will have succeeded in reaching our goals.
There are two reasons why we’re so bad at reaching our goals: The first is that we bite off more than we can chew because we are eager for change, but lack a vision, a plan or clear goals. The second reason we fail to achieve success is that, old habits die hard, and when there aren’t simple rituals and disciplines in place, we tend to dance with the devil we already know instead of staying the course.
A great question to ask yourself as we kick off 2016 is: Are you really being productive or are you just busy? Often you get to the end of the day and think, “I was busy all day, but what did I accomplish?” Goals give us more than just a target to aim for, they help us change our behavior and create new habits.
I just read an excellent story where Warren Buffett gave his friend Steve advice on how to figure out and achieve his goals: He said, make a list of the top 25 things you want to do in the next few years or even your lifetime, and then pick the five most important. Once the Top 5 planning session was over, Warren then asked, “but what about these other 20 things on your list that you didn’t circle? What is your plan for completing those?” Steve replied confidently “Well the top five are my primary focus but the other twenty come in at a close second. They are still important so I’ll work on those intermittently as I see fit as I’m getting through my top 5. They are not as urgent but I still plan to give them dedicated effort.”
To Steve’s surprise, Warren responded sternly, “No. You’ve got it wrong Steve. Everything you didn’t circle just became your ‘avoid at all cost list’. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.”
Most of us have tons of things we “hope” to do, would “like” to do, “should” do, but they aren’t a MUST. If something isn’t a MUST, it will never get done and there will always be an excuse.
Fundamentally, there are two kinds of decisions you can make: intellectual decisions and emotional decisions. Once you understand these things on an emotional level, you are able to turn your shoulds into musts. This is the pivotal point, this is the game changer, this is when you get leverage on yourself. This is when you are compelled to take action. A decision is not a real decision until it is a MUST for you, until you feel it on a cellular level, until and you are compelled to take action.
What will you turn into a MUST today? What does your Top 5 look like?
Commit. Succeed. Success.