6 steps to achieving your LEO goals

We’re a quarter of the way through the year, so how are your goals and resolutions for 2015 coming?

You began the New Year with a fresh start. You set goals for health, fitness, emotional wellbeing, spirituality, professional lives, and relationships. For too many officers who started off 2015 with gusto, those efforts have fizzled out.

Why is it hard to keep that momentum going? And why do more people seem to abandon their goals than see them to fruition? The simplest answer is mindset. Desired changes are viewed with a form of “all or nothing thinking,” with efforts to achieve them launched without a solid plan; instead, the well-intended believe their initial motivation will carry them through. Others set their sights on fast results in the short-term, but their actions are short-term instead of changes that need to last a lifetime. 

To keep a New Year’s resolution in motion, one must put the hard work into changing habits rather than relying on fleeting motivation. It requires the mindset that true motivation is kept alive by what you do, not how you feel. It requires engaging and changing the brain to develop new behaviors and ways of thinking instead of relying on emotion to propel us through.

The secret to meeting goals is finding and maintaining engagement. Here are six steps of engagement to the completion of a goal:

1. Form Life Habits
There is a long-held and popular belief that it only takes 21 to 30 days to create a new habit, but this is not true. Research shows that creating a new habit actually takes from six months to a year because we need time and repetition to form new neuropathways in the brain for the habit to develop. 

The belief that a habit can be formed in the short-term is a great marketing tool for diet and exercise plans, or to sells books and DVDs, but if that were true, everyone would be healthy. Instead, develop the mindset that the change you are making today is one that requires diligence, endurance, and steadfastness to repetitive behaviors three to four times a week, if not daily. 

The goal is to form good habits that last a lifetime.

2. Set Goals
People who are successful in making changes set and reset goals for the desired behavior(s) on a daily to weekly basis. For instance, if one desires to change eating habits, it’s imperative to menu plan each week; for fitness goals, to write down and schedule that week’s workout plan. 

If a goal is to develop new relationships or improve an existing one, deciding a plan of action for where and how to meet new people, or the specific steps to take the existing relationship to a closer bond, are critical to succeed. Good outcomes in life come from being intentional in our behaviors and repetitive action. 

3. Turn Small Steps into Big Gains
 Break down a seemingly daunting task into manageable parts. Doing so enables you to complete steps in a discrete block of time and in a strategic manner. No matter what your goal — whether it is rehabbing an old house, writing that novel that’s been percolating about your brain for years, going back to college or grad school, or any other ambitious goal — breaking large tasks into manageable bites will put time on your side.

4. Publicize Your Plans
Letting friends and family know what you’re up to and why, expressing your goals on social media, and joining a group for mutual support and accountability are a great way to increase the likelihood of success. 

Laboring in secrecy might feel safer emotionally, but lets you off the hook should you decide to quit. And don’t just announce a goal once and let it go at that — find that select “inner circle” group who’ll truly care and take interest in your success and talk about your progress often. 

You’ll hold yourself accountable, they’ll cheer you, and your chances of success will soar.

5. Celebrate Milestones
If breaking a goal into manageable parts is your strategy, develop a system to reward and celebrate significant achievement. Rewarding yourself for reaching a milestone increases the likelihood you’ll push onward to the next, psychologically reinforces the goal as a part of you, and adds accountability. Once your friends have taken you out for dinner to celebrate completing the first section of your novel you can hardly quit now, right?

6. Redefine Failure
Expect to fail, again and again. Almost any worthwhile goal requiring serious effort will expose personal weaknesses, be susceptible to planning flaws, and run into unexpected circumstances. Anticipate these roadblocks and that you’ll have to improvise and overcome.

A lot of people confronted by personal failure or impeded by circumstances simply give up. Instead, see failure as an opportunity to learn from mistakes, master a shortcoming you didn’t know you had, or creatively go “off-script” for better growth. 

Failure should be embraced, talked about, and planned for. That impediments will get in your way is a given. Good! Failure can bring results staying on course never dreamed of.

How are your goals and resolutions for 2015 coming? How is your mindset? Now is the time to revive motivation to push through to success. 

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