And, it gets worse. It’s our attachment to the goal that keeps most of us from achieving long-term, lasting change. It’s the difference between, say, getting in shape and staying in shape—hitting our physical conditioning goals and maintaining them. Even if we get there, we cannot stay there without commitment and discipline. We have to keep going to the gym.
Whether it’s flat abs or a new reputation, most of us want to see results now, not later. We see the gap between the effort required today and the reward we’ll reap in an undetermined future—and lose our enthusiasm for change. We crave instant gratification and chafe at the prospect of prolonged trying.
By focusing on effort, rather than goals, we distract ourselves from our obsession with results (because that’s not what we’re measuring). In turn, we are free to appreciate the process of change and our role in making it happen. We’re no longer frustrated by the languid pace of visible progress—because we’re looking in another direction.
So, as you journey through your day and you find that you would like to make an attempt at changing your life or your behavior in one way or another, there are three things to remember:
1. Change doesn’t happen overnight.
2. Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.
3. If we make the effort, we will get better. If we don’t, we won’t.
Commitment. Motivation. Self-discipline. Self-control. Patience. These are powerful allies when we try to change our ways – and even more powerful in keeping them changed.
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith was selected as one of the 10 Most Influential Management Thinkers in the World by Thinkers50 in both 2011 and 2013. He was also selected as the World’s Most Influential Leadership Thinker in 2011. Marshall was the highest rated executive coach on the Thinkers50 List in both 2011 and 2013. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There was listed as a top ten business bestseller for 2013 by INC Magazine / 800 CEO Read (for the seventh consecutive year). Marshall’s exciting new research on engagement will be published in his upcoming book Triggers (Crown, 2015).