As the 2016 calendar year comes to a close, it is time for the ritual of making New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, for many people, I think these resolutions just end up in failure, and they can often just further demoralize people in their negative views about whatever it was they were trying to fix.
I think the close of the calendar year is a better time to reassess goals and take a mark of where you are. If you have a goal of saving a million dollars, then you can use the end of the year to assess where you are in your goal. It is also a time to figure out if your goal is realistic or if it needs to be adjusted in any way.
In terms of making a resolution, I am not against the idea. But it should be an actionable step that is realistic. If you haven’t been to the gym in the last six months, what makes you think that you will all of a sudden start going for 5 days a week on a regular basis?
Instead, start going to the gym one or two days per week. Or better yet, start taking a short walk each day. Or you could join a recreational sports team, where you will more likely show up and also more likely to have some fun.
If you are trying to eat healthier, maybe it should start with drinking one more glass of water each day. It could start with giving up your least favorite unhealthy food that you tend to snack on. Don’t pull away your favorite unhealthy food.
In terms of diets, I think it only works if you are agreeing to a lifestyle change and you are really willing to commit to it. These weight loss programs are mostly a joke because they are temporary. It is rather easy to do anything for a month. The challenge is to make the lifestyle change. You are better off making a small step that will last a lifetime rather than making a big step that will be temporary.
This goes for overall productivity too. I am a big fan of productivity. This does not necessarily mean working long hours, although it could mean that during certain times. I would rather have one hour of highly focused and productive work than 8 hours of unfocused work.
Productive work does not necessarily have to be making money directly. Sometimes you need to be productive to set yourself up for success in the future. When you see an entrepreneur on television who grew a business into a highly profitable venture, you don’t hear a lot about all of the work that went into it at the beginning. The entrepreneur didn’t know that the ideas or products would necessarily lead to wealth. But the upfront work had to be done.
There is a saying: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
This is an important saying. If you have some big or final goal, you have to break it down into small, actionable steps. I am currently writing a book on economics. The chapters will be short (just over 1,100 words, on average). Each chapter is like writing an article. Instead of working on a 40,000 page book tonight, it is easier to work on an article (chapter) that is 1,200 words.
I think habits and discipline are important. If you do nothing, then you will be guaranteed to produce nothing. If you do something, at least there is a chance of something happening.
As a writer, I force myself to sit down and write on most nights. I don’t always know what I am going to write about when I sit down. I am forced to write though, and usually the words start coming out once I start focusing. Writing is a lot like exercising. You have to keep doing it or else you will get weaker.
For 2017, my suggestion is to set a doable goal that will set a new habit. It could be this: I will spend one hour per day, five days per week, working on a new project.
If you don’t know what you want to do, then you need to figure this out. You might spend your hour figuring out ideas. And each day does not have to be the same thing. I don’t recommend doing too many projects at one time, because you will end up with a bunch of unfinished things. But it might be reasonable to do the following: write on a blog two days per week, do a short podcast or video two days per week, and spend the other day figuring out ways to market these things.
You have to set your own goals and decide on your own projects. But it is important to get into good habits that will allow you to set aside the time to work on them.
You may be busy, but there is almost always time in the day. If you are a single mother with a job and a baby that doesn’t sleep well, then maybe you have an excuse temporarily. But most excuses are just excuses for not doing anything. Most people can find time.
If you ever want something done, then give it to someone who is already busy. The busy person will find a way to get it done. The person with a lot of free time will find excuses to put things off.
Take small and actionable steps that are realistic. Don’t fail in your resolutions. Here is to a productive 2017.