It’s the New Year … Now What?

Happy New Year! If you are reading this post, then you care about leadership. If you care about leadership then you have set some semblance of goals or resolutions for 2021. I would like to offer some thoughts for you to consider focusing on strong behaviors instead of resolutions that will go a long way to establishing your personal culture:

Focus on Behaviors, Not Specific Items.

“I will work out 4 days per week.”

“I have cut out carbs from my diet.”

“I will call my parents twice every week.”

“We will eat as a family every night.”

“I will set up my to-do list for every day the night before.”

These are good goals, but they are essentially check-lists. Don’t get me wrong, check-lists are fine. But do we want to live our life by a check-list? Wouldn’t we rather live our life around a couple of strong behaviors that will make us better at everything we do and would naturally incorporate elements of specific to-do’s?

For example, perhaps you concluded that you are falling short on diet, exercise, and time with your family. It would be easy to write out exercise routines for every day of every week, a diet for every meal, and time block time with your family every day. Over time, though, this becomes difficult to sustain because life happens, and you may not be able to check off every item on every list every day. Then you get frustrated because you are not living up to your resolution and you start to fall back into old habits.

The Importance of Strong Behaviors

But, what if you focused on a behavior that would incorporate all of the things in your life you have identified as important? What if you showed more COMMITMENT or DEDICATION or DISCIPLINE to your diet, exercise, and family? If you asked yourself throughout the day, “How am I showing commitment to my diet?” or “How am I showing DISCIPLINE to my exercise?” or “How am I showing DEDICATION to my family?” You could certainly use items on your check-list to track it. But what if circumstances dictated that you had to travel unexpectedly, or an emergency came up that took priority over everything else? What if you couldn’t get to the gym, cook your breakfast, or eat dinner with your family tonight? Does that mean you get to abandon your COMMITMENT, DEDICATION, or DISCIPLINE?

“I couldn’t get to the gym today because of an emergency at work. But, before bed I did 25 pushups, 25 squats, and 25 sit-ups.” Because you focused on a BEHAVIOR instead of a list of items or to-do’s you managed to take care of your physical self in spite of the circumstances at hand. 

Apply this principle to everything in your life. At the end of every day, ask yourself if you performed your desired behavior and then be able to articulate how. “How did I show DEDICATION today? I did not stop at McDonalds today and eat the #4 like I really wanted to. But I had a piece of fish for lunch instead. I turned off my phone and the television and focused on having a wonderful dinner together with my family.”

You get the point. So try establishing one or two strong BEHAVIORS for 2021 and watch how you get better at every aspect of your life. It is a simple principle to understand, but difficult to execute.

Welcome to leadership! Welcome to greatness! Welcome to making 2021 your best year!

Errol Doebler is the founder of Ice Cold Leader, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Ice Cold Leader to realize his passion of empowering great leaders and better human beings. Ice Cold Leader provides executive coachingkeynote speaking, and corporate retreats to individuals and teams across the world.

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