This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
We’re deep in the heart of the holiday season and fast approaching January 1st. For a lot of us that means one thing: New Year’s resolutions. Now, I’ve written extensively about how to follow through on resolutions both for yourself and for your business. When planned and executed effectively, resolutions are a great way to commit to positive change. But for many, it’s still too easy to give up on a goal halfway through – or worse, never even get started. Why? The answer is simple, yet troubling: As humans, we’ve become okay with disappointing ourselves.
Of course, nobody wants to be a disappointment to others at home or in the workplace. That sort of public shame is something most people actively avoid. However, many things we would never wish on another person, such as neglect of physical health or poor financial decisions, we’re all too willing to accept for ourselves. If this is something that describes you or someone you care about, read on and take notes because it’s time to start over. If you want to take your life or your business to the next level, you’ve got to end the cycle of self-disappointment, make yourself a priority and follow through on your goals. Here’s how:
Every time I fly on an airplane, I hear the same message: “In case of a loss of cabin pressure… place the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting a small child or other passenger.” In flight, following that simple rule can literally save your life. Back on the ground, it’s a good figurative rule to follow as well. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself first, how are you going to take care of others? In business, leaders are charged not only with growing and maintaining a healthy business, but also with the well-being of their entire team. Be the example for your team members by planning and following through on your own goals first. Make yourself a priority, and invest the time needed to care for your mental and physical self. If your team sees you doing it, they’ll be more likely to model that behavior and adopt it as part of your company culture. As a result, not only will your well-being improve, so will that of your entire organization.
You made a choice to change something. Great. But, why did you make that choice? If you’re going to put in the effort to reach a goal, you’ve got to know why it’s important to you and what the consequences will be if you don’t achieve it. What gave you the idea in the first place? Maybe you want to be in better shape to run a race with your spouse. Maybe you’re saving up for a college education for your kids, and you’ve decided to put money away each month. What’s driving you and inspiring you to succeed? Connect with that inspiration and remember it each time you feel yourself going off course. It’s easier to right the ship when you know what’s driving you to your destination.
Accountability is a crucial element of the Rockefeller Habits and something I discuss regularly with my member companies. If you’ve gotten in the habit of making plans and setting goals in private – and then not achieving them – it’s time to go public. Let others know what you’re doing. Put your plans on social media, talk about them in your company’s daily huddle or just tell a few trusted friends and family members who will notice if you’re not following through. Let them hold you accountable and call you out if you’ve started to let yourself down. A time may come when you can trust yourself to complete goals based solely on accountability to yourself, but until then, use the human resources around you to keep you honest.
If you’re the kind of person who gives time and energy to others at the cost of your own needs, now’s your opportunity to turn that around. Saying “yes” to everything doesn’t help if you can’t say yes to yourself. Allowing yourself to say “no” to others doesn’t mean you’re neglecting them. Odds are for every “no” you dole out, you’ve said “yes” dozens of times, so nobody will fault you. Setting limits for yourself with others will free up time for self-care and reduce the likelihood that you’ll run out of time to attend to your own priorities.
Whether you’re at home or running a business, you deserve better than to disappoint yourself. It’s the worst kind of failure really, because you’re letting down the person who should be most central to your life: you. Not only that, when you don’t take time for your own goals, you set a bad example for those around you. So, when it comes time to make those New Year’s resolutions – or any time you set a new goal for yourself – take the four steps above. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.