So far we have identified your goals you want to pursue, created goal statements and constructed a plan to implement the behaviors necessary to accomplish those goals. But now that you’re seeing your plan out, what can you do to help ensure the success of your goals?
Today, I will be discussing a framework our team put together called ADVANCE. Each letter of ADVANCE represents a tip to ensure that your goals are achieved. Let’s start by jumping into A.
- Allow yourself to start small
To create a new behavior, lower the bar of entry. Your new behavior should be the first step in working toward your goal. Focus on the first few weeks exclusively–it will get much easier after that. Developing a routine and seeing success around this step will allow you to continue to build momentum.
For example, if you want to start working out, ask yourself, “What is the smallest step I am absolutely certain I can do right now?” Maybe that’s simply putting on your workout clothes three times a week. Then the following week, you drive to the gym. Then walk in and perform one exercise. Eventually, over time, you will be able to execute your optimal workout plan.
2. Design an environment that fosters success
Many people don’t realize that our environment plays a huge part in dictating our behavior. When you’re starting a new behavior, make sure you carefully design the environment around you to maximize the opportunity of achieving your goal.
If your goal is to start running in the morning, design the environment that will reduce the resistance of this behavior. Sleep in your running clothes and lay your shoes, headphones and water bottle right next to your bed. If you’re limiting your time on social media, bury the apps in a folder labeled “time wasters” in the back of your phone. Your environment should aid, not go against your goals.
3. Visualize the outcome
There’s something so motivating about seeing all your goals and aspirations right in front of you every day. One of the most useful visualization tools I have found is vision boarding. Vision boards should include images or words that will serve as daily reminders to orientate and motivate you toward your goals. They can be as big or small as you want to make them. I also suggest posting your board somewhere highly visible such as the wall you face when you get up, your bathroom mirror, your fridge, closet door or phone background. It can also serve as an opportunity for others to see what your goals are in order to seek advice or help from people.
If you want inspiration, I’ll share an example of my vision board on my Instagram later this week.
4. Anchor your new behavior to an existing habit
After you have identified the behaviors that need to become habitual for you to accomplish your goals, you obviously need to remember to consistently perform them. One of the most successful ways to maintain a new behavior is by attaching it to an “anchor habit”. An anchor habit is an existing behavior you already consistently perform that you can attach the new behavior to. It will help you stay consistent and serve as a reminder for the new habit you’re trying to create. Great anchors are things you already consistently do each day or week such as brush your teeth, shower, drive to work or eat.
To put this into practice, determine how often you need to perform your new behavior. Make a list of existing habits you already perform on the same frequency and around the same time of day. Select an existing habit as the anchor and set a reminder to accomplish the new behavior right before, during or after the anchor habit until it feels routine.
How this could work:
If you’re trying to read for 15 minutes a day, put your book right next to where you hang your towel (environmental design). After you shower (anchor habit) and dry off, pick up your book, set a 15 minute timer and focus on reading until the timer goes off.
5. Note your performance
The consistency, accountability and honesty that comes with making note of your performance is hard to overstate. Having a plan to accomplish your goals is great, but not knowing if you’re on track is like completing a class without getting a grade! Use a habit tracker, start a note in your phone or tape a piece of paper up in your room. Think of it this way: what is measured, gets managed. Once you identify your performance level, you can identify where you may be falling short and strategize how to overcome that friction.
6. Choose your social circles with care
We love to think that our friends, family and peers carry no influence on our behaviors, but they do. Be intentional about who you are spending time with. Seek out positive influences in your life and avoid those “friends” that derail you from your goals. It’s a complex situation when the people closest to you are not supporting your goals, but if they truly cared about you, they would be encouraging and helpful. Make sure you hold up your half of the bargain with communication about your intentions and what you have set out to achieve. In order to know how to support your dreams, your circle needs to know what it is you are working on accomplishing.
As Jim Rohn famously said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”
7. Eliminate friction
Friction is the complex, unnecessary steps and self-made obstructions that you put in place when trying to start a new behavior and accomplish a grand goal. Identify and avoid friction at all costs. For example, if you are constantly skipping your workout at the end of the day because you’re tired, move it to the beginning of the day instead! Build your habits your own way. What works for others won’t always work for you. Try different things and see what sticks. Test and retest until you find what aids you best.
I hope the ADVANCE framework will help you on your way to achieving your goals. Now tell me, what letter will help you the most? Share your thoughts below.
I’m looking forward to wrapping up this series with our fifth and final piece next month! Make sure you don’t miss an article by subscribing to my blog announcements.
Want to connect further about personal coaching, speaking opportunities or other engagements you think I could help you with? Connect with me or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and as always, special thanks to my editor and partner Gaby Deimeke.