Many people make New Year’s Resolutions at the beginning of a new year. Even if you didn’t call it a New Year’s Resolution, you probably decided to make some changes this year.

With more “downtime” than usual during the holidays, business owners have a chance to reflect on the past year and do some thinking and planning. Unfortunately, once they get back into the daily grind, the new ideas are easily forgotten.

In many cases, a true goal is not really set. It’s just a wish. Everyone goes through five levels when they attempt to reach a goal, change a habit or learn a new skill, but few understand the process itself.

Level 1: Self-Awareness

First, you become aware of a new idea or a new skill you want to develop. You become aware that change is needed. You get a new vision and desire was created. This is a great start!

Level 2: Willing To Change

This is where most people get stuck. Once they get started on the goal, the skill, or the habit, they immediately realize implementation is going to be much harder than they thought. They get resistance from others, they face some fears and the big bad habits immediately return. 

Humans change mostly through desperation or inspiration. The problem with desperation is as soon as you get back into the comfort zone, you’ll relax again. At some point, inspiration must kick in. You have such a strong vision that you’ll crawl across broken glass to make it happen.

Level 3: Intense Focus

Once you’ve made the decision to change, you’ll enter into a period of intense focus to begin building the new habit. But you’re only halfway there.  The ground-breaking book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, points out it takes as much as 245 days to build a new habit depending on the habit and how much emotion is tied to it. Gary Keller’s best-selling book The ONE Thing reveals the average is 66 days. Stay consistent for 66 days.

Level 4: Commitment

At some point during the consistency of level three, you become committed to the new lifestyle, habit or routine. You’re seeing some concrete results. Your confidence is increasing because of it. This new-found confidence may even turn into inspiration which will carry you a long way.

Level 5: Character

Level 5 is when you have truly become the person you want to be. This is when your habits and values have changed. Your life and destiny are determined by your values.

How do you know you’ve reached this level? Only time will tell.

Several years ago, I became very aware that I was unhealthy and out of shape. I became desperate and willing to change, so I focused on a new plan with a certified nutritionist and a personal trainer. I lost 50 pounds! And I was SUPER FIT! I had a new lifestyle. Or so I thought. After FIVE YEARS of being super fit, I got bored with my trainer and my nutritionist. I thought I could go it alone. I began to slide, and before I knew it, much of the weight had come back.

This taught me a valuable lesson: Even if we know about The 5 Levels, we are still vulnerable if we don’t have support, encouragement and accountability. Everyone should have a coach, and even better a coaching community.