Three Rules For Resolutions

January 02, 2019

I like New Year's resolutions. Setting new goals for yourself is exciting and invigorating. Coming off of a long holiday season right into the depths of winter, a new goal can give you a sense of renewal when you need it most.

No matter the resolution, most of us fail (for a variety of reasons). I've got a decent track record (but far from perfect). For me, achievement of a goal is a kind of productivity challenge (fresh resolution or otherwise). Since we're limited by time and energy, working on our resolutions, whether it's weight loss or reading more, is usually a question of prioritization and organization.

There are a thousand reasons why a resolution might fail. Here are three rules I use to think about resolutions that might help you turn yours into real change:

Focus On The "Why"

A lot of resolutions focus on the "what" rather than the "why". Say your resolution out loud and then ask yourself "why?" When you answer that question, you open up the possibiltiy of alternatives, course corrections, and backup plans. For example, "I resolve to drink less alcohol" might really translate to "I want to lose weight and save money when I go out." Now you can see how one resolution about drinking may be linked to a lot of other ideas like skipping desserts, packing your own lunch, biking to work, etc. You're no longer limited to one specific project to get to your goal. You can fail, change, or mix it all up, as long as you focus on the "why".

Forget About Apps (for now)

Of course there's an app for what you're trying to do. They run from generic habit trackers and list managers to the hyper-specific fitness trackers and other tools. In almost every case, you don't want to start your first day of your work with an app. The app will draw your attention away from yourself and your own daily needs, rhythms, successes and failures. You want to get used to how you move through the day and not through the notifications and settings of an unknown app developer. If you have the kind of resolution that requires tracking, use a pen and paper for the first 30 days. Once you get there, then you can start looking at apps that might fit your needs.

Attack Distraction

One of my ongoing resolutions is to read more books than I did last year. It always reminds me how many resolutions require focus. It's these kinds of goals that look the most like productivity challenges. If you require focus to get there, the first place you should start is attacking distraction. Whether it's avoiding technology for a block of time, using a system like The Pomodoro Technique, or something simpler like eliminating phone notifications/noises, there are a lot of different angles you can use to attack distraction. You'll be surprised what kind of impact you can make by giving yourself a little bit of extra focus every day.

Let me know if any of these rules help you think differently about how you're going to approach your 2019 resolutions. And if one of your resolutions is to "take control of my email" or "feel less stressed", I can help you with a personalized coaching package. Drop me a line. It's going to be a great year.

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