A New Year comes new beginnings. We forget all the sloth and vices of the past, and declare that this is the year everything changes! Come February, most of us are exactly where we were at a few weeks ago. It’s estimated that 80% of New year resolutions have already failed by January 20th.
I’m not really a fan of resolutions because I believe self-improvement should be a daily thing. We should constantly tweak our lives and improves rather than wait for some arbitrary date to begin. However I realize a lot of readers will be starting through journey so I wanted to share some techniques on how I approach things.
Don’t just read the article & nod your head. Save it, implement what I say, and re-read it again.
Keep Your Goals to Yourself
I’ve felt exactly what he talks about in the video. When you tell people about your goals, they congratulate you for your ambitions. You have this strong feeling of accomplishment when you haven’t done anything.
I keep seeing this one girl on Facebook every few months announce that she’s “serious” about losing weight. Her friends congratulate her, “YOU GO GIRL!!!!”. Nothing happens of course, and she still looks like the Asian Precious. Maybe she should have kept her goals to herself.
You want a reputation as a do’er, not a talker.
Limit Your Number of Goals
“The hunter who tries to catch two rabbits, catches none”
Everyone is super-motivated at the beginning of the year and they end up taking on too much. Instead of focusing on a few goals, they want to improve on literally everything. The problem is you have a lifetime of bad habits and it takes a large amount of effort to overcome each one of them. Work on too many goals, and you end up giving up a few weeks into them and back to your old ways. It’s better to focus on a few and actually achieve them, than to focus on too many and end up doing nothing.
JD Meier (author of Agile Results) believes in limiting his yearly goals to about 3 and that worked out great for me in 2012.
Another ideal is to take on monthly goals. I developed the meditation habit because it was my goal for March. I started reading everyday for 30 minutes because it was my goal in July 2010. 12 months in a year means 12 changes you can make with this approach.
Turn Your Goals into Daily Habits
This is how I visualize habits. I picture an empty bucket. Everyday you perform the action, a drop of water gets added. You can’t see the progress everyday because it’s small. But if you do it consistently everyday, and you will end up with a bucket of water. A lot of people are just too impatient and are always looking for shortcuts that don’t work. They try to cheat and end up knocking over the bucket.
Whatever your goal is, try to find a way to break it down into a daily action. Losing weight means going to the gym and tracking your calories. Being less stressed could mean meditating everyday, and taking a few minutes out to be grateful for what you have.
The only thing we can truly control is our effort, and part is that is working on our goals consistently.
Learn the Most Effective Techniques
Are you using the best strategy for what you want to accomplish? All the time & energy could be wasted if you’re using the wrong strategies and techniques.
Do your research. If a friend accomplished what you want to, ask them how they did it. There’s already established plans out there for most goals. It’s just sometimes to follow a plan than to create one on your own.
Also if you’re having serious problems then consult an expert. Someone who’s obese or trying to get over harmful addictions requires professional help.
Visualize Your Desires
It’s easy to become excited about your goals – the tough part is staying excited a few months later.
One technique I use is called the “dream board.” I have a folder of pictures of what I want in life. Your ideal body, fast cars, beautiful women, exotic locations, etc. I take a look at mine every morning and it fires me up for the rest of the day.
I also like to close my eyes and do visualization exercises. I walk myself through my life 5 years from now. One where I worked hard and attained everything I wanted, and another one where I was lazy and slacked off. Seeing the stark contrasts motivates me to have a life of the former.
Track Your Progress
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
If your goals can’t be measured then they weren’t good goals to begin with. Instead of saying “I want to read more,” make it measurable with “I want to read 26 books this year.” That works out to a book every two weeks that you can easily track with Excel or a Calendar.
Some tracking methods:
- You can setup Mint.com to automatically track your spending
- Dailyburn.com makes it easy to track what you eat each day
- If you don’t want to use a program, there’s always Excel
- You can use a website like 42goals.com to track habits, or you can use a smartphone app like “Habits List”
Most people that say it’s too much work to track something have never actually done it. It only takes me a few minutes a day.
Increase Friction, and Create Easier Paths
We’re always looking to do what’s easier or rather, what’s the path of leasat resistance.
To stop myself from doing a certain action, I make it harder to do it.
A few years ago I was playing my Xbox 360 way too much. I decided after each time I played, I would disconnect the Xbox and put it in my closet. This made it so if I had a quick break for Xbox, I had go to my closet and reconnect all the cables again. I went from playing 25+ hours a week to almost none because I was too lazy to get the system out the closet.
At the same time we can encourage behaviors by making it easier. I go to the gym on a consistent basis because it’s walking distance to me. I want to drink more water so I have a pitcher of water on my desk.
Think about how you can manipulate your future self into doing what you want.
Encourage Yourself With Rewards
A few years after I started making good money I started becoming a little lazy. I took vacations and bought things whenever I felt like it. I constantly rewarded myself for no reason and it slowly chipped away at my hunger. I was robbing myself of that tension of wanting more.
Then I thought back to the days when I was a kid and my Grandma wouldn’t let me play outside unless I got my homework done. I kind of do the same thing now. Even though I can afford that thing I want, I make myself earn it. I also implement it into my daily life.
I love video games and watching movies, but I can only do that after 9PM AND only if I finished all my work for the day. I work harder knowing there’s a prize waiting at the end.
A Final Word