This time of year, we’re entering a precarious season when many of us begin to or outright abandon New Year’s resolutions—no matter how impassioned or well-intentioned. This phenomenon is so pervasive that a litany of studies aim to reveal precisely why so many of us are unsuccessful in achieving career, life and self-enhancing promises we’ve made to ourselves.
A Psychology Today article reveals four specific reasons why “you may be standing in the way of your personal growth.” Contributing factors are goals that are unclear, feeling overwhelmed, discouragement or not being ready for the change.
And, while having a backup plan can relieve anxiety, an Elsevier-published study explores the notion that “the mere act of thinking through a backup plan can reduce performance on your primary goal by decreasing your desire for goal achievement.”
If you find that your New Year’s resolutions have veered off-course, it’s never too late to turn the tide. Still, it does take a concerted effort, ideation, and bona fide grit to make those commitments a reality.
In an effort to pull back the proverbial curtain on what it takes to achieve goals, a variety of high-achievers and “serial doers” share their advice. Their anecdotal views exemplify the real differences between people who make things happen and those who only dream of it, but never quite get there.
1. Be persistent with a purpose
Best-selling author, executive and motivational speaker Steve Pemberton recommends unleashing “the power of persistence” with visceral determination.
Having overcome a litany of adversities growing up in the foster care system to ultimately become a C-Suite leader for the likes of Monster.com, Walgreens and Globoforce, Pemberton has walked the walk when it comes to “surthrival” and perseverance.
When it comes to back up plans, for Pemberton there was no such thing. There was simply no other option than to persist toward his goals. He did it time and time again, also having spent much of his professional life helping others do the same. His childhood experiences not only gave him the resolve and tenacity to stay the course but to do it with purpose and meaning.
2. Consistency breeds commitment
Ask people if they are committed, and many will say “yes,” however; commitment is often defined quite differently on a societal and individual level.
People often commit to goals until a circumstance arises that knocks them off balance, conveniently absolving themselves of responsibility in the process. It’s no wonder a whopping 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are purported to fail by February.
“In order to remain committed to a goal or cause, one must conduct themselves with steadfast consistency in working toward it, and upholding it when you’ve achieved it—no matter what hardships present along the way,” social activist and personal injury attorney Christopher Chestnut, a Partner at The Chestnut Law Firm urges.
Despite Chestnut’s promising career trajectory, including recognition from former President Barack Obama (who was Senator at the time) for courtroom excellence, earning a National Bar Association award and winning a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Big Tobacco, he suddenly found himself immersed in private challenges threatening his reputation, livelihood, and future at large.
Arising from a dispute with his former mentor, Chestnut faced the possibility of losing it all.
Amidst many chances to quit, his devotion to the belief of “justice because you deserve it”—the slogan of his law firm—gave him the emotional strength to remain committed to the career he worked so hard to attain.
Consistency forges a path rather than focusing on the destination. Holding on to your “why” can bolster commitment and serve as guideposts to navigate inevitable bumps in the road.
3. Remain in relentless pursuit
Russian-born Eugene Gold grew up poor and ultimately immigrated to the United States in hopes of a better life. He faced financial, professional and social setbacks too numerous to count.
Yet he was relentless in striving toward his career goals. Gold reveres failure and regards rejection as an asset. He suggests that “every single time you fail and every single time you get rejected, you are that much closer to a ‘yes’ and more knowledgeable at how to get there.”
It’s with this maverick mentality that Gold built a business that’s grown by a staggering 4,400 percent. His determination landed his company at No. 65 on the coveted Inc. 5000, also appearing on Entrepreneur 360 list twice. Gold proves that producing “against the odds” results is difficult, but entirely attainable with the right mindset.
Parlay pitfalls into renewed plans
Another fast track example is Chi Ta, a self-made millionaire who grew his Airbnb business to a $2.4 million upside in nine months, making him one of the world’s largest Airbnb hosts by dollar volume.
He attributes his success to determination, dedication, consistency and a willingness to take calculated risks. Before growing his Airbnb empire, Ta worked toward his “wealth” goals in the mortgage industry for over a decade. When he uncovered gig economy opportunities in the peer-to-peer rental space, he brazenly shifted focus. Today, Ta is a leader in the space and mentors others on how to achieve similar goals.
Gold and Ta are examples of how quickly one can get back on track and relentlessly pursue their goals. If you’re falling behind, you can parlay pitfalls into renewed plans.
4. Value and demonstrate loyalty
It often takes a strong character to accomplish goals, according to “Character Coach” Gary Waters who enjoyed a 30-year career as an NCAA basketball head coach. Waters believes character begins by being loyal to yourself and quitting is the most disloyal thing you can do.
For Waters, loyalty is about the commitment one makes to a cause. He believes a sense of loyalty to one’s own wants and needs is a fundamental aspect of character building. Once you’ve mastered this for yourself, you can impart the value of loyalty to those you can influence—in the workplace, at home or on the field.
Lessons on uncompromising loyalty
Irfan Khan also knows a thing or two about loyalty. As the president and CEO of Bristlecone, a company whose size he has doubled the last four years by centering it around the needs and wants of his customers, Khan is an expert in “antifragility.”
A concept defined by popular economic thinker Nassim Taleb, an antifragile system (often addressed within the supply chain) is one that, “instead of breaking under stress and change, thrives under it. The antifragile grow and improve from external shocks.” Khan asserts that trials and tribulations that test and attempt to undermine one’s loyalty can, and should, actually make that loyalty stronger and uncompromising.
5. Recalibrate when required
The road to success is rife with difficulties. Although some roadblocks may signal it’s prudent to rethink your plans altogether.
Career coach Sheeba Forbes faced this dilemma when she started her practice to help women advance in the workplace.
Many times, Forbes had to step back and re-evaluate a goal to see if it is what she actually wanted—or even needed. She gave herself permission to course correct. Her willingness to readjust to new conditions and situations taught her the value of taking a break, stepping back and ensuring the “why” still aligns with current desires.
To this point, Dr. Quinella Minix, a personal performance coach, concentrates on intrinsic motivation. She advocates a focus on knowing what drives you and why. Minix underscores that it’s easy to get distracted by the wrong “why.” It can lead you down a path that wastes time and energy–taking you farther away from your goal.
The demonstrative value of strategic recalibration aside, when it comes to getting New Year’s resolutions back on course, for many the secret sauce is simply a matter of maintaining one’s vision, focus, and persistence.
This mix is what helped former NFL wide receiver Marques Colston become the New Orleans Saints all-time leading wide receiver (one of the top 50 in NFL history for receiving touchdowns).
Today he’s an entrepreneur who helps retired athletes and other professionals become skilled entrepreneurs and investors in their own right. “Even though I attended a small school, my ‘plan A’ was to go to the NFL,” Marques notes. “When people asked me if I had a ‘plan B,’ I would respond that my ‘plan B’ was for my ‘plan A’ to work. I just didn’t see it any other way. It was all or nothing.”
All or nothing battle cries
Can this “all or nothing” approach help the masses renew New Year’s resolutions and taste victory in their own right?
Steadfast intentions can certainly be a helpful means toward that end. But in reality, there’s no one-size-fits-all method that can guarantee goal-setting success.
The insights and perspectives above can help you discover what’s missing in your own plight and refresh your approach. Their stories can certainly light that fire in your belly and hopefully sustain it until you cross the finish line.
Branding, business and entrepreneurship success pundit, Merilee Kern, MBA, is an influential media voice and lauded communications strategist. As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List International News Syndicate,” she’s a revered trends expert and industry voice of authority who spotlights noteworthy marketplace change makers, movers and shakers. Connect with @LuxeListEditorMer on Twitter.