Most of us are driven to our goals because of our own desires for change – whether that’s related to a specific trait or characteristic we want to develop or the result of being fed-up with the way our lives or bodies look. Regardless of the reason(s) we want to change, it’s not a lack of discipline which ultimately determines whether or not we reach our objective of creating a new habit or behavior. Instead, I’d like for you to consider that your success or failure is ultimately the result of the structures that you put in place to support your new habit. And, the lack of structures, or lack of adequate structures, is was precipitates not achieving that goal.
So, what is a structure? A structure is anything (e.g. process, system, support person) that you put in place in order to help you achieve your goals. People who succeed in their endeavors aren’t simply stronger-willed than you or even more dedicated or ambitious. People who succeed are those who have learned their limitations and are honest with themselves when it comes to knowing what they will or won’t do of their own accord. Successful people look at the areas in which they are weak and put support structures in place in order to aid them in overcoming those areas of weakness.
As an example, let’s say that you’ve decided to change your nutrition program. And, the parts of that change that will be difficult for you are: (1) giving up sweets, (2) not eating processed foods, and (3) eating every two hours of your waking day. In order to support your goal, your structures should be put in place prior to the first day of your new routine. Some of the support structures that you could put in place might be: (1) going through your kitchen and giving away (or getting rid of) all foods that have sugar in them, any sweeteners, and any processed foods, (2) talking to those who live with you (or are closest to you) about your goal, why you want to achieve it, and making a request of them to ask you specific questions or use specific wording to support you when you are feeling weak and wanting to give in or quit, & (3) adding reminders to your calendar to eat at your specific 2-hour intervals of every day. You may even find that to ultimately be successful you need to prepare your foods a day in advance or even on the weekends in advance of the week.
Ultimately, finding the structures that will support you through the areas in which you know yourself to be weakest will be the foremost thing you can do to ensure success for your new behavior. And to accomplish the act of getting the appropriate structures in place, you must begin with being honest about what you will or will not do on your own. Honestly take a look at the areas where you feel weak. Also, take a look at what has caused you to fail to obtain goals in your past. Then put structures in place around these areas in order to support you for the first 30 days of your new routine. After that, your structures may be altered or dropped altogether, depending on how well you are doing at that time.
Next week, I’ll be posting Part II of obtaining your goals. But don’t wait until then to re-establish your broken resolutions. Support structures will carry you through the majority of any issues that you will face in achieving your new habit or behavior. So be brave and resolute in seeing your newly desired habit reinstated. In the wise words of Mary Pickford, “…this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”