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What Do You Need to Do to Make 2012 a Year to Remember?

Jeff Janssen, Janssen Sports Leadership Center

Hold on to your seat because this article could be the catalyst for making 2012 a year to remember for you and your team... Really!

If you act upon the insights you gain from this article, I can almost guarantee that this will be a pivotal year in your life and career.

What do I mean?

I want to challenge you to answer and, more importantly, act on a question that will make a major difference in your life. After all, it's the kind and quality of questions that we ask ourselves that determine our focus, motivation, and success. By thinking through the following question and developing an action plan to answer it, you set yourself up for the success you desire.

So here goes... I challenge you to think long and hard about the following question:

What one thing do YOU NEED TO DO that would have a tremendous impact on your and/or your team's success this next year and beyond?

Sounds simple doesn't it?

But if you take the time to honestly think through and answer the above question, understanding the why behind it, and planning the how to do it, you give yourself the means to go from where you are now to where you want to be.

No matter where you are in your life or what level of success you have achieved or aspire to, there is at least one thing that you can do that would have a significant impact on your success/satisfaction. FedEx calls it a "high-leverage activity."

There is often one significant action that if you identified it, committed to it, and executed it on a consistent basis, the action would allow you to breakthrough to new levels of success.

The problem is we don't do it. Sometimes because of a lack of awareness. More often because of fear, doubt, or resignation.

What is holding you back from making this year a year to remember?

Fear of trying something new?

Doubts that you don't have what it takes?

A limiting mindset that says it can't be done here?

Bad habits that short-circuit your success?

Lack of skills in a certain area?

An unwillingness to change?

Remember that the toughest opponent you will ever face in your life is yourself. Yes, you!

Most people unwittingly limit, prevent, and sabotage their own success. It's usually not others who are holding you back, even though it is much easier to try to blame them. We typically are our own worst enemies. We get in our own way much more than others stop us from being successful. The question is not, "What is holding you back?" The real question is, "What self-imposed obstacles must you conquer to breakthrough to reach your goals?"

So the purpose of this article is to help you discover what you need to do, decide that you are going to do, and dedicate and discipline yourself to doing it on a consistent basis.


What is your "high-leverage activity?" What is the one thing you could (and must) do that would have a significant impact on your success?

Intuitively, you probably already have a good feel for what the answer to the question might be. It is usually something that you either have been avoiding for the last couple of years because of fear and self-doubt. Or it is something you have tried to do for a limited period of time but gave up because you did not overcome the challenges of human nature.

Invest the time to identify what action would make the biggest difference in your success this year.

Only you know what is right for you but here are some examples: exercise three times a week, read a book a month, avoid snacking between meals, reserve a "Date Night" once a week with my spouse, have a family meeting once a week, invest more time in developing my captains, have my players give me feedback on my coaching, strive for a 3:1 positive to negative feedback ratio in my coaching, take a class or attend a seminar, find a mentor, make some needed staff changes, recruit/select players with talent AND character, organize a booster or parent group, etc.


Each of us has one "high-leverage activity" that would make a huge difference in our professional and personal success. Decide which activity is going to give you the biggest BANG for your efforts.

Odds are, the high leverage activity is probably something that is challenging if not daunting, tedious, and time-consuming to do.

However, as E.M. Gray stated in his essay The Common Denominator of Success, "The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don't like to do. They don't like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose."


The easy part of resolutions is making them: the difficult part is keeping them. It is estimated that 80% of people fail to keep their New Year's resolutions past the first couple of weeks.

Commitment and follow through are hard to come by these days. Most people throw in the towel, let the bad habits creep back in, and short-circuit their own success because of a lack of dedication.

As Thomas Edison once said, "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up!"


To help you breakthrough the barriers to sustained commitment, here are several ideas to bolster your resolve. Find two or three that seem to work best for you and implement them now.

1. Put up a picture of your desired goal.

Find a picture that represents what you will get out of doing your high-leverage activity. Perhaps it is picture of a beautiful new home or car, or a picture of championship trophy, or a picture of a healthier you. Find something that reminds you of why you will be making some of the sacrifices you must make.

Remember the proverb that states, "The reason most people fail instead of succeed is that they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment."

Put up a picture of what you want most to prevent you from giving into the temptations of the moment. As Friedrich Nietzche once said, "With a strong enough "why", you can bear almost any how."

2. Make a public commitment.

Instead of keeping your resolution private, publicly announce your commitment to others. A public commitment forces you to not only be accountable to yourself but to others as well. In addition to their support and encouragement, you also have the weight of their disappointment should you fall short of your goal.

3. Develop a reasonable and manageable plan to achieve your goal.

Break down your goal into bite-sized chunks that you can execute on a continual basis. If you want to write a book, divide the enormous task down into developing an outline, and then writing the draft of a chapter every two weeks. Once you get yourself going, you will build some positive momentum that will fuel your drive and desire. The biggest obstacle is often getting started in the first place.

4. Enlist an accountability partner.

Find a friend, colleague, or spouse who will help keep you accountable. Find someone who will support and challenge you when you are ready to give up or give in.

A good friend of ours hiked the Appalachian Trail all the way from Georgia to Maine - yes 2,106 miles on foot over the course of 6 months with only a backpack! She said there were several times that she wanted to give up and go home. Fortunately, her travel companions got her through the tough times and kept her treking along to the finish. Not surprisingly, only 10% who begin the Appalachian Trail in Georgia ever make it to the end in Maine - congratulations Cheri!

5. Reward yourself for success.

Set up a small reward system to acknowledge and reward your progress along the way. If you make your goal for the week and execute your plan effectively, treat yourself to movie, dinner at a nice restaurant (if losing weight is not your goal), or some other special treat that means something to you. Give yourself some incentive to look forward to and keep yourself on track.

6. Punish yourself for failure.

While some people strive for rewards, others are more motivated by avoiding pain. Set up a series of punishments should you not achieve your goals. For example, you could penalize yourself by not watching your favorite tv show or sports team play if you do not live up to your goals. Or you could not allow yourself to consume one of your favorite foods/drinks. Find something that would be enough of a mental or physical hardship that would cause you to follow through on your commitment.

Ultimately, take charge of your destiny - or some one or some thing else will! Decide what you want to achieve, discover the high-leverage activity that will best position you to get what you want, and discipline yourself to execute and follow through on your plan on a daily basis.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, "The people who get ahead in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want. And if they can't find them, make them."

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