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The secrets behind sticking to your commitments and achieving your goals

With spring in the air, many of us will struggle to even remember what our new year’s resolutions were, let alone whether we achieved them or not. “I must do more …”; “I will eat/drink less …”; “I will get better at …” – the same goes for our plans for summer, because you’ve already set your mind to where you want to be by then, haven’t you?

We’re all familiar with the excuses for giving up on a goal: “I tried but I didn’t have the will-power”; “It was too easy to give in to temptation”. But these don’t explain the real reason why people fail: they don’t want it enough.

If you really want to lose weight, get fit or drop a bad habit; if you genuinely desire the benefits that this change can bring; if it is really important to you then you will make the sacrifices. You put in the effort and accept the discomfort because you truly value the outcome.

As well as valuing an outcome you must also believe in it

This is why it’s easier to achieve a clear, specific goal. If you have something tangible to work towards (even better – if there are clear milestones along the way to help measure progress), something that you believe you can achieve and you believe in the benefits, it is much easier to stick to the commitment.

Teamwork helps too

Working towards a tough goal with someone else can provide motivation, encouragement and perhaps even healthy competition for some. There might be a sense of not just doing it for yourself but doing it for your mate too.

Similarly, failure isn’t just letting yourself down but letting someone else down.

Sacrifices pay off in the end

I’ve used this approach in the past with my climbing activities, having more success when I had a clear target that I was aiming for. A few years ago I set myself the challenge of climbing a particularly hard north face in the Dolomites.

Having that objective meant I made time to regularly get to the gym to gain the extra strength required. I was able to forgo puddings and beer in order to the achieve the weight loss needed. It was difficult (especially the puddings) but I really wanted to achieve my goal. It helped that I was doing it with a friend and we trained together.

How this applies to the workplace

In the workplace we face the same challenge when we want to implement changes or take our performance to another level. Firstly we need a simple, inspiring vision of what it is that we want to achieve, along with a clear plan on how we will get there.

Leaders in particular have to absolutely believe in the vision so that they can go out and sell that vision to their teams. Then the vision becomes jointly owned rather than imposed from above. If you really want an accident-free workplace and you believe that you can achieve it then you will. It will be difficult and may entail many sacrifices but you will get there.

I’ve recently signed up for the cycle Tour du Mont Blanc event that will involve riding 330km with 8000m of climbing – all in one go. I know that I want to do it but I’m still working on the belief part!

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