Most of us start this time of year picking new year resolutions. For me, they are the usual suspects. Get healthier. Lose those 20 pounds I’ve been trying to lose since the 1990’s. Become a better person. The latter usually entails becoming more patient, loving, and forgiving in my relationships – including with other drivers on the road. Each year, I carefully set action plans to meet these goals. Yet, most of my goals lose steam around mid-February and it’s back to business as usual: donuts and road rage. With some therapy, I have even found some humor at the irony of being an executive coach and not being able to meet my own goals. The fact is 92% of New Year resolutions fail.
Here’s what I’m doing differently this year. It is from Marshall Goldsmith’s best-selling book called Triggers. The #1 executive coach pays someone to call him every morning and ask him 32 questions that help him to be accountable to be the person he wants to be. I decided to give myself the challenge of asking myself ten accountability questions every morning.
Success on the most important goals we set for ourselves involve the long game – practices that we practice every day until they become habits, and eventually part of our very identity, so we can create lasting change.
Marshall Goldsmith’s Six Daily Questions
In his book, Marshall Goldsmith describes the six questions he recommends for all leaders. My recommendation is to start with these questions. The focus is to hold yourself accountable to doing your best. Did I do my best to:
- Set clear goals?
- Make progress for achieving my goals?
- Find meaning?
- Be happy?
- Build positive relationships?
- Be fully engaged?
My Ten Questions
I recommend you frame your questions based on your own goals and values. Here are my ten questions. Each day I give myself a score from one to ten on each question. They are based on the daily practices make me most effective, and who I want to be as a leader. Did I do my best to:
- Make healthy exercise, food, and sleep choices? I know that feeling good in my physical health goes a long way in impacting my positive energy and stress levels. This in turn impacts my ability to lead effectively.
- Appreciate the good in myself, others, and situations? There is research on the importance of gratitude in overall well-being and leadership. Focus on the positive helps me have greater patience with myself and others.
- Write and progress my three most important goals for the day? This is critical for staying focused and productive.
- Build positive relationships? Positive relationships help leaders get work done and also contribute to well-being.
- Practice courage? In leadership, courage is an important attribute. It helps us to lead from authenticity, have the difficult conversations that we need to have, and make decisions that may not always be popular, but are the right thing to do. In my book, Wired for Authenticity, one of the seven practices of authenticity is “Face The Dragon”. I write about proven ways to overcome fear and practice courage.
- Find meaning? Meaning can be found every day in the small actions we take, and is an important tool for us to feel engaged and purposeful in our work and life.
- Stay centered in the face of challenging situations? Most of us experience stress in the workplace and this triggers behaviors where we derail ourselves. For me, it is critical to become aware of when a triggering situation is presenting itself, and to take a deep breath and respond rather than react.
- Notice and exercise my strengths? Our success and confidence comes from exercising our strengths.
- Practice vulnerability? Influencing others is very hard without connecting with them. As Brene Brown’s famous TEDxTalk which has had over 27 million views indicates, vulnerability is a core driver of connection with others.
- Act in alignment with my values? As a leader, our impact comes not just from what we do, but from who we are – our character. Can we be trusted? Do we act with integrity? The behavior of leaders has tremendous impact on teams and culture.
What are the most important questions you will ask yourself every day to stay on track with who you aspire to be in 2017? I welcome you to share your questions with our community or find an accountability partner in this exercise for yourself.
This post first appeared in my Forbes leadership blog.