The start of a New Year is always special. There is a feeling of renewal as we look to a new year, a new beginning and there is a sense of excitement for making changes or adopting new habits. However, do you ever find yourself making New Year’s resolutions only to abandon them? If you do, you are not alone.
I want you to be successful at one goal, only one goal this year—and that is accomplishing one small goal you know you can accomplish. I say start small so you can build the confidence and strength to do more. It’s all about taking what I call “baby steps.” Start small, keep at it, and stay consistent until you’re ready pick up the pace.
I also suggest that you work on your goal on a weekly basis. For instance, if you are setting a goal to reduce your sugar intake, set a goal to reduce the number of sugar-rich drinks you consume during the week. If you are in the habit of drinking soda pop everyday or several times a week, decide at the beginning of the week how many drinks you will reduce in your diet. If you go too fast and eliminate all your drinks, you may just fail at it because you are not emotionally, mentally or physically prepared to do so. So start small. Make a promise and keep it…make a promise and keep it. And soon you will enlarge your strength, confidence and capabilities to discipline yourself to achieve other goals.
Many years ago, I went on a sugar fast with a group of students. You can’t believe how difficult it was at first but as we achieved small victories, our will power and passion for achieving our goal became stronger and stronger. We actually found strength in saying “no” to sugar because we felt an inner strength, a strength that inspired us to grow our confidence and abilities to grow our character, our sense of who we wanted to be.
As you set your small goal, you may want to enlist the help of someone close to you. It’s important to have some support, encouragement and a system of accountability. You might even invite this person to set a small goal that you can encourage them on. Work together and create synergy to help each other.
I wish you well on your journey in 2010. You have the potential for greatness in you! Go for it! Start small. Make a promise and keep it.
The beginning of a new year is an exciting time—it’s a time for reflection and a time for looking forward. As many of you are making New Year’s resolutions, I would like to share some thoughts for how you can best succeed with achieving them. Far too many of us know that it’s easy making resolutions but it’s far more challenging not breaking them.
My first advice is to start small. Choose something small you can start doing now that will help you achieve a bigger goal or resolution. For example, if your goal is to get healthy or lose weight think of some thing you can promise to keep. You can decide to wake up a little earlier to organize your day to allow some exercise or decide to drink more water during the day and cut out unhealthy drinks. The main thing is to make a promise to yourself and keep it. When you make a promise and keep it you will find yourself grow in self-assurance and confidence. The more successful you are with making and keeping promises to yourself, the more you will be able to make and keep promises to others.
Again, start small and create a private victory. You can build on this with other small promises and enlarge your victory until you establish healthy habits for your life. Make a promise and keep it.
I just completed a speaking tour in Brazil, where I met and talked with many amazing, gracious people, who are profoundly committed to principle-centered living and service. One couple traveled over 15 hours with their baby to hear me speak. When they got there they were told that no babies were allowed in the hall. Not wanting to disappoint them, the organizers of the event offered to babysit their baby so they could attend the program. What a magnificent gesture and display of compassion and willingness to serve!
Another encounter also moved me and humbled me. I had the privilige of meeting with Dr. Ricardo Guimaraes who made great efforts to travel for the event. He is an eye doctor who years ago was in a bad airplane accident, where he risked his own life by pulling out passengers of the plane. As a result, Dr. Guimaraes suffered severe burns on his body with scars on many parts of his body that are still visible today. This experience caused him to have a total life change and he made the decision to be more service-oriented. He is now working with our FranklinCovey office in Brazil helping to develop The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens program to help the youth in Brazil. As I sat with Dr. Guimaraes, talking over lunch, I was so moved by his humility, courage, and willingness to serve.
When we are willing to serve others, we find our voice and our greatest selves. I encourage each of you to find your voice, especially during this holiday season of Thanksgiving in the U.S.. It is is in giving that we receive life’s greatest blessings. Thank you for all that you do in your families, workplaces, and community!
“One word expresses the pathway to greatness: voice. Those on this path find their voice and inspire others to find theirs. The rest never do.”
Stephen R. Covey
The power to discover your voice lies in the potential that was bequeathed you at birth. Latent and undeveloped, the seeds of greatness were planted. You were given magnificent “birth-gifts”-talents, capacities, privileges, intelligences, opportunities-that would remain largely unopened except through your own decision and effort. Open these gifts. Learn what taps your talents and fuels your passion-that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet-therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul’s code.
Q: How do you define “voice”?
A: Voice is the overlapping of the four parts of our nature: our body, our mind, our heart, and our spirit. These also represent the four intelligences: our IQ for the mind, our EQ for the heart, our SQ for the spirit, and our PQ for the body.
To help you find this, answer these 4 question.
What are you good at? That’s your mind.
What do you love doing? That’s your heart.
What need can you serve? That’s the body.
And finally, what is life asking of you? What gives your life meaning and purpose? What do you feel like you should be doing? In short, what is your conscience directing you to do? That is your spirit.
People are internally motivated by their own four needs: to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy. When they overlap, you have voice-your calling, your soul’s code.
Q: Is finding your voice an evolving process, or can it happen all at once like a light bulb going on in your head?
A: I think that it can happen all at once, but more so, I think it is an evolving process. As people grow up, they are exposed to different fields of knowledge and different experiences. They don’t yet know what they’re good at or even what they will like doing. Once they have this exposure and education and they start getting involved, they start to find satisfaction, and that leads to success as it begins to give them a sense of their voice or what they really love doing that they do well. For some people, it does comes like a flash of light, but it is usually preceded by someone who really deeply believes in them-sees their strengths and affirms them when they don’t see their own potential themselves. This creates an opportunity for that voice to be developed and expressed. This happened with me.
Q: Is the process of finding your voice the same for an individual as it is for an organization that is trying to find its voice?
A: That’s a very interesting question and I think in a very real sense, it is the same. But because an organization is made up of many different individuals who have different voices and a different sense of what gives them meaning and their life purpose, it takes communication processes where people are genuine and authentic with each other in expressing what they really care about. However, people gradually get a sense of what the organization stands for, what it loves doing and does well, and what it feels like it should be doing. So, there is kind of a collective form of the four intelligences that overlaps and develops in an evolutionary way.
Q: How can we help someone find his or her voice?
A: I think if you care about people genuinely, you listen to them and observe them; because this is more than just hearing them speak, it is observing them-observing where their excitement is, where their enthusiasm is; observing where you sense they have potential. Sometimes it is very powerful just to say to them in sincerity, “I believe you have great potential in this area. I see real strengths in you that you may not see in yourself, and I would like to create an opportunity for you to use those strengths and to develop this potential. Would you be interested in that?” Most people are so flattered by someone who sincerely cares for them and affirms their work and potential that they are moved and inspired by that kind of input. It’s very powerful and it can make all of the difference, particularly with people who grow up with a confused lifestyle, bad modeling, and basic education. Often they have no clue as to what life is about or what they are about until someone becomes a teacher to them-a mentor, a confirmer, and a coach. This kind of mentoring is becoming increasingly important in education, in relationships, and in work environments. It can make all of the difference as to whether a person takes a higher road to his or her own voice or a lower road to where he or she is swallowed up by the priorities and voices of others.
Each week we will be asking Dr. Covey to comment on common questions.
This week we ask about New Years Resolutions.
Do you feel like you fall into the same trap every year—make a resolution, keep it for awhile, break it, feel guilty, and so on? Or do you feel like it’s easy to just set the same goals every year—those last 20 pounds, more patience with my kids, improve productivity at work—yet never really pushing yourself? End this revolution. This week we ask Dr. Covey about how to reach your new years resolutions.
Q: Dr. Covey, why are New Years Resolutions important?
A: The start of a new year is often accompanied by a renewed energy around self-improvement and goal-setting in the form of resolutions. People often ask me this question and my reply is that I don’t think they ARE that important unless driven by a deep personal sense of mission. People often make resolutions, break them, and allow this to become their habit pattern until the process itself eventually becomes rather meaningless. Until people think really deeply about what is truly most important to them, this rather discouraging pattern is likely to continue.
Most people are “urgency addicted” and spend half their time doing things that are not important, that are urgent—things pressing, proximate, popular, and pleasant, but not really important.
This is why I feel strongly that people should take time to reflect and to think deeply about what is important to them. I suggest that people take time to decided what they really want to accomplish and why. Ask yourself what you mission is. Then make sure that your resolutions fit that mission. Can you see the difference between this process and the “quick fix” of coming up with ten resolutions and doing none of them?
For example, lets look at losing weight. If you are losing weight because you want fit into a certain size or you want others to like you more you are more likely to fail because the driving force of the goal isn’t coming from inside you. Your driving force comes from others. But, if one of your missions is to be a healthy person, you will look at your weight (if needed) as well as the health of your mind, your emotions and your spirit you are more likely to create meaningful goals and reach them. We call this, inside looking out, not outside looking in. Your goals are driven from within you and not influenced by others.
Q: How do I change so that I’m focused on the important things?
A: There are two forces that cause people to think seriously. One is the force of circumstance. They experience some kind of a crisis, emergency or major setback that causes them to really think seriously. The other is the force of conscience. The more people can spend time educating and obeying their conscience, the stronger their conscience becomes until they become driven by it. And if they’ll allow this to happen, it will drive them to ask and better understand the answers to the deeper questions of life. They’ll reflect on what is really important to them and think through the kinds of practices or disciplines that must be exercised in order to accomplish that which is most important.
Q: Can you recommend some things that people might consider when sitting down and setting goals for themselves?
A: There are a couple of things I have found that help people develop enough internal stamina and discipline to make great things happen. They start small—make and keep a promise, or set a small goal and accomplish it. The more they do this, the larger the promises become and the higher the significance of the goals. Little by little their sense of personal honor becomes greater than their moods, and they are more a function of their commitments then they are the different conditions of their life. When that begins to happen, they literally become the creative force of their own life. They move from small things to slightly larger things—have small “wins” and then bigger and bigger “wins”—until they begin to experience a level of exhilaration and excitement that makes them feel like they can accomplish just about anything.
Q: Looking ahead, what words of encouragement would you offer someone who might get stuck in the process?
A: Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by the process itself…it is gradual. Ask yourself the simple question—what is most important to you in life? Making a list of values that you want to live by is, in and of itself, a small “win.” As I mentioned earlier, acknowledging these small victories gives you confidence that you are on the right path and allows you to take a deeper look at what your goals and purposes are. As you move forward, you are encouraged to go, even more specifically, into action planning and setting deadline dates by which you want to accomplish those things.
I would also add this…it is human nature to have moments of doubt and discouragement, but do not give into them. Know that, in spite of weaknesses, you have the potential within you to live a life of greatness.