Jeremy Campbell offers advice on achieving our goals in the coming year – both at work and at home
New year, new start, new approach. How often have we thought that with a rush of renewal? How often have we then gone back to doing what we’ve always done within a few days? Thursday January the 19th, 2023 is officially “Quitters’ Day”. That’s the day when most of us abandon our attempts to change the way we are.
Why do most of us fail? Changing behaviours, embedding new habits, and achieving consistency are the most difficult things to do whether in your personal life or in your daily business.
The truth is that we’ve been going about it the wrong way. Great Britain’s Olympic team psychologist, Sarah Broadhead coached the teenage Taekwondo star Jade Jones to Olympic golds in London in 2012 and in Rio in 2016. For more than eight years, each week they set out the everyday actions they needed to advance gradually towards that most ambitious of goals – an Olympic gold medal. They took small achievable steps on nutrition, concentration, strength, flexibility, and on sleep and recovery. By doing this they avoided distractions, stayed focused and began to benefit from the compound effect of consistency. The principle at the heart of this approach is to focus on the process and not the end results. This is a mantra at the heart of most elite sports coaching.
So, what would it look like if you took this thinking and created six New Year resolutions to transform the performance of your business?
The big goals can be daunting. If we focus on the small steps, we make them achievable and relevant
RESOLUTION 1 – Be crystal clear on your business goals. Three goals at most. Make sure everyone knows them, agrees on them and buys into them. Make sure they are well communicated and make sure people are reminded of them on a very regular basis. Plaster them on walls, emails, and every time you talk to the team. For reassurance check by asking individuals “What’s the goal? What are you doing to crush the goal?”
RESOLUTION 2 – Break the big goals down into everyday actions which focus people on acting small and often. The big goals can be daunting. If we focus on the small steps, we make them achievable and relevant. We also begin to avoid the biggest enemy of progress – distraction. If we can identify what each individual needs to do to embed the new habits we want and make each individual accountable, we are starting to build something powerful.
RESOLUTION 3 – Track and measure your progress. As the famous old saying goes, if we don’t measure it, we can’t manage it. We need clear visibility of how we are getting on. The team needs regular reminders of what the score is.
RESOLUTION 4 – Aim for progress nor perfection. You just need to get momentum and gradually move the dial. Too often the reason we fail is that we expect too much too soon and become disheartened.
RESOLUTION 5 – Stay accountable. In the Sarah Broadhead story of Olympic gold, Jade Jones was held accountable in weekly reviews of progress and in daily coaching conversations. Try to create a coaching culture where individuals and teams are kept accountable for delivering their everyday actions and are supported to stay on track.
RESOLUTION 6 – Celebrate all your wins. It makes everyone happy. That releases great warm chemicals in our brains which not only encourage us to want to do more but also are at the heart of motivation, satisfaction, and engagement. The more you celebrate, the more likely you are to keep on winning.
We believe passionately that it is time to change the way we do change. These six steps are principles which can transform how we create new habits and new behaviours in business. They also help to bridge the gap between strategy and execution. That’s a challenge which has grown ever greater in the hybrid world of work which is evolving in front of us.
The compound effect of consistent everyday actions is the way to maximise performance. If you could stick to these six resolutions your business performance would be transformed. There is a perfect storm of challenges heading our way in 2023 as the perma-crisis rolls on. The aftermath of the pandemic; rampant inflation; a cost-of-living crisis; and the looming recession will make the business landscape tougher by the week. That demands a new way of thinking for those who strive to succeed.
In many ways the methodology of everyday actions could be as transformative in the current environment as six sigma was back in the eighties and nineties.
At the heart of it all is an unescapable truth about life. Successful people consistently do what others only occasionally do.
Jeremy Campbell is the CEO of Black Isle Group and an executive coach and expert on behavioural change.