We are a little over halfway through the first month of 2016 which means according to this study done by the Statistic Brain Research Institute about 30% of us have given up on our New Year’s resolutions. By the end of the year, only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolution. One of the main reasons most people fail to achieve their resolution or any other goals they set out to achieve throughout the year is they focus far too much on the results they want to achieve and don’t pay enough attention to the process. They choose processes that are not enjoyable and not sustainable for their life. When the initial push to achieve a result starts to die down or the result they want to achieve doesn’t come quick enough, they give up and return to the same default patterns of behavior that they had on December 31st. So what can we do to avoid being one of these people?
One of the keys to being a successful poker player is the ability to avoid being results oriented. It is a very common occurrence to do everything right in most of the hands you play in a day and still have a losing day. This can happen day after day. You can also do a lot of things wrong and have a winning day and that can happen day after day. Short term luck and randomness can convince you that you are either making bad decisions (when you actually aren’t) that are resulting in your poor results or it can convince you that you are making good decisions (when you actually aren’t) that are resulting in your positive results. The key is to be able to separate your decisions from the results, analyze those decisions and determine whether your process is correct regardless of the result. All of this occurs all of the time in your daily life. Short term luck and randomness can play a big factor in not only achieving a resolution but also your success in many other facets in life. How you respond to those things and your ability to focus on the process while avoiding being results oriented will be a huge part of achieving your goals.
The first step is to make process oriented goals rather than outcome oriented goals. For example, an outcome oriented goal would be “I want to lose 30 pounds” while a process oriented goal would be “I want to do cardio three times a week, strength train three times a week and nutritionally aim for a 40/40/20 macro split”. Your process oriented goals should be very specific but also flexible. There are two crucial words for coming up with a process that will be both productive and sustainable: Emulate and Personalize.
When coming up with the process that will help us reach our goals we should look to emulate someone who has either reached this goal before or is currently involved in the process to help us form our base. At the gym, you might look at someone and think “I’d like to have arms like him” or “I’d like to be able to lift as much as him”. It’s great to use people like that as motivation but its even better to look at their process and how they go about getting arms like that or lifting that much. Not only the actual routine they do but how they go about their workout, how focused they look at the gym and how they are there every day passionately training. Along the same vein, you might have previously had a goal to make X amount of money like your friend or have as big of a house as your friend or any other material outcome oriented goal. Instead we should be looking to emulate the process they went about to get where they are and let the results take care of themselves. In poker, I’ve always looked to learn as much as I can from other players and emulate the process they have used to become a great player. It is a never ending part of the game, not just in poker but also in life and you must be willing to be flexible and self aware. Emulating processes is very much a practice in trial and error. It is a great way to form a foundation for achieving our process oriented goals however we will not be able to sustain them unless we personalize them.
Ultimately, we will never stick to our process oriented goals unless we figure out what works best for us individually. This is where flexibility and self awareness come into play. Can you see yourself committing to doing this process for the long run? It’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things if you are looking to make a change in your life. If you learn to become aware of each decision you make and how it affects the goals that you have set it becomes nearly impossible to slip back into the default setting that has been hard wired into your brain. It’s so easy to fall back into this setting and put off achieving that resolution and to say “I’ll start again next week”. When we can take bits and pieces of different processes and come up with our own process that we constantly tinker with while staying focused on the goals that we have set then we have done what we need to do to set ourselves up to be successful. The results will come as long as we remain dedicated and are resilient when things don’t go as planned.
Hopefully reading this entry will help some of you become a part of that 8% that achieve their resolution!