What's Your Action Plan? (Part IV)
If you’re still sticking to your New Year’s resolutions at this point, congratulations!
You can count yourself among the slim 9.2 percent of the population who reports feeling successful in keeping their resolutions (Statistic Brain Research Institute, 2017). And if you took a systems-based or action-oriented approach, you may have found success in your original goals and, perhaps, in other unexpected goals along the way as well.
Wait for the Reward
Setting big challenges helps you adopt processes that turn into habits, which can lead to positive results. With positive outcomes you get something else that can be just as exciting—if you are patient about working toward it. An important part of achieving goals (and what often makes them worth the hard work) is the reward of knowing you’ve overcome a challenge and that you’ve accomplished something notable in your life. It may be equally important, however, to delay the gratification of that reward and to continue striving further.
In his acclaimed best seller, The Road Less Traveled, author and psychiatrist M. Scott Peck discussed principles of discipline. These principles, Peck asserts, allow us to reap the full benefits of our hard work, and one practice we can implement today is the delay of gratification. By working hard now and prolonging the reward we receive at the end, we maximize our efforts and therefore get the best results.
For instance, consider the outcomes you’d like to achieve in the next 12 months. You add in productive behaviors and each day move closer to the end states you have in mind. Yet if you focus on the journey and continue past the original goals, you delay the gratification of one reward and open yourself up to enjoying the many other benefits that accompany positive lifestyle changes. These, in turn, grant you not only the original reward, but also set you up for future rewards.
When it comes to evolving and impacting change, be patient with yourself. Acknowledge the unexpected benefits you see along the way, and keep pushing forward every day to reap the biggest rewards.
Written by Kelsey Bober, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS – Statistic Brain. 2017 Statistic Brain Research Institute, publishing as Statistic Brain. January 1, 2017 http://www.statisticbrain.com/ new-years-resolution-statistics/
Peck, M. S. (1998). The Road Less Traveled. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.