Japanese language has lots of insightful sayings, and mikka bozu, or only lasting as a priest for three days, is one of them. It means we wilt in our determination and fold after just three days of commitment. On day one, when we start the new year, we are full of resolve, like an aspirant priest. But the daily reality as we move through the year saps our ability to deliver on our initial best intentions.
If you feel a mikka bozu departure coming on over the next weeks and months, here are a couple of ideas on how to deal with that less-than-satisfactory turn of events.
Don’t beat yourself up
You may have been setting goals when flushed with the excitement of the moment, but the cold dawn of reality has now sunk in and you realise that maybe you were being presumptuous.
No problem. Reset and focus anew on outcomes that are achievable and can help to build some momentum. With resolutions, we tend to be all in or all out. When we realise we were actually kidding ourselves, we just throw the whole show out the window and go to nothing, the void, infinite empty space.
Rather than an all-or-nothing approach, how about a recalibration for what is more realistic and possible? Can we see the realisation of a few steps that, further down the track, will lead to bigger goals being achieved? Can we carve off a few bite-sized pieces that we can actually consume? They are there, so let’s pick these out and attach some realistic milestones around their completion.
Focus on the possible
Some goals are more easily achievable than others. Start with doing those activities that will lead to wins. Success breeds success and we are often confidence players. The more we succeed, the more emboldened we are to try to do more. Let’s set ourselves up for success by actually allowing ourselves to win.
Don’t be influenced by others
We may have set bigger goals than we could chew because we were listening to what others were doing. Some guru was setting forth big, hairy, audacious goals and we were carried along for the ride.
Or we may be influenced by what our family or friends are doing. Better to concentrate on what we need to do and at the pace and in the way we need to do it. The hare and the tortoise race is a famous fable about the ability to be self-aware and to play to your strengths. Slow and steady often wins the race, but the key word here is “steady”. Keep going, however slowly, rather than handing back your priestly robes in a pique after three days.
What can we do?
I like that quote from the Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi about “blocking and tackling” being the keys to success in American football games. The basics are the key to business success, but we often get caught up in the glamour and complexity of the more elaborate solutions. If you watch enough TED talks and guru videos, you may start to wonder what is wrong with you. Why aren’t you achieving at the level of these so-called geniuses?
Well, you can, but only if you start with mastering the basics. So here is how hard it is: take 10 minutes, sit down, get out your pen, some A4 paper and in the middle of the paper circle the words “The Basics”. Around those words start adding other circled words that describe what the basics of your business are. Having fleshed them out, now add numbers to the circled words—the priority of importance of each of these selections.
Ten minutes later, you have a game plan on where you need to start working and on what. It is not hard, is likely to be very practical and realistic, and directly correlates with your success in your profession. If you focus on the basics then momentum is invoked, ideas will come and things start to happen.
So, don’t give up like a mikka bozu. We might have been derailed by day three or the third month of the new year, but we can regroup, recover, recalibrate and re-establish our starting point. Another favourite quote is by baseball coach Yogi Berra who said, “It ain’t over till it’s over”.
By day three, week three or the third month, it ain’t over and there is still time—a whole lot of time.
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