With 2020 officially here, many people are taking a step back and taking stock of where they currently are. If you’re like me, you realize there’s still a lot you want to accomplish and now is as good as ever to get started on achieving your goals. While it might seem cliché to make New Year’s resolutions, don’t be so quick to discount the power behind it.
Yes it’s true that many start the new year off with good intentions that quickly fall to the wayside, I believe it’s largely due to not properly preparing for the change as opposed to people just not wanting it bad enough. How many times have you made grandiose plans to make this year THE year, but then it never went anywhere? Why didn’t it go anywhere? If I had to hazard a guess, it was because you bit off more than you could chew and was soon overwhelmed by all the sudden, drastic changes.
Instead of poo-pooing on the whole notion of New Year resolutions, try incorporating some of these tips to give yourself the best chance of success.
Define and Prioritize What Areas You Want to Improve
Yes, we all want to be rich, fit, and successful, but you’re not going to get there by just stopping there with your list. What are the specifics for each of your goals?
Are you going to create an emergency fund, pay off your debts, or invest in a mutual fund? How much do you want to save/pay off/invest?
Are you looking to gain muscle, lower your BF%, or train for an event?
Do you plan to start your own business or expand on an existing endeavor?
Specifics matter. The more your can nail down exactly what it is you want to achieve and which goals are the highest priority, the better your chances of success are.
Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals
While this tip is pretty well known and you likely already know about it, it bears repeating. Every one of your specific goals we discussed in our last point need to be S.M.A.R.T.
- Specific – See above. “I want to get fit” doesn’t cut it. What do you need to do SPECIFICALLY to get fit?
- Measurable – To continue on with the previous example, how will you measure your level of fitness? Are you going to track your weight? Your resting heart rate? Your blood pressure?
- Attainable – Your goals need to be realistic. If you’re a lifelong couch potato, don’t make a goal of becoming a professional bodybuilder by the end of the year.
- Relevant – Does the goals you’ve listed have meaningful bearing on your life or your overall goal of becoming fit (or whatever your primary goal is)? If you’re looking to build muscle mass, running a marathon wouldn’t help you achieve that goal.
- Timely – Your goals need to have a timeframe and deadline. If your goal ends in “someday” then it will never happen.
So what’s a good example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal? Glad you asked. Let’s take the example of becoming fit and apply this principle to it.
“I want to become healthier. By the end of July, my goal is to lose 20 pounds as well as getting my resting heart rate below 60 and my blood pressure in the normal range. I will do this by lifting weights 3 times per week, doing 3 cardio sessions per week, and cutting out all junk food and alcohol.”
See how this goal is vastly superior to “I want to get fit?”
The 5 Minute Habit Builder
“I got so many new goals I want to accomplish! How will I ever do them all without getting burned out?”
This is a fairly common problem I’ve personally encountered and I’m sure many of your have as well. You make your list of goals for the new year only to realize you now got a dozen new tasks you have to accomplish each day.
Okay that might be a bit hyperbolic, but I’m sure you catch my drift. You might start out strong, but soon the overbearing weight of all your new time requirements drive you into the ground and you just give it all up.
When first starting out, try this little trick. Devote only 5 minutes to each of your daily goals. For example, if your goals are to exercise, read, and meditate every day, do each of those activities for just 5 minutes each as opposed to trying to devote 30-60 minutes to each one.
The reason this works is twofold:
First, it tricks your brain. Spending 60 minutes each day in the gym, 30 minutes reading, and 20 minutes meditating ON TOP OF everything else you got to do each day is a daunting task, but anyone can devote 5 minutes to exercising, reading, and meditating. That’s only 15 minutes out of your day. No sweat!
See how it already seems more manageable? When you’re just starting off building a new habit, don’t worry about the results. Working out 5 minutes per day isn’t going to get you shredded, but it IS getting you into the habit of working out daily.
Secondly, it helps you to develop the habit of doing each of these activities. It’s about teaching your mind to be consistent.
Once your new 5 minute tasks feel second nature, you can begin slowly increasing the increments of time spend on each activity.
The 2 Day Rule
This rule is pretty simple and ties into the main principles of the previous point of habit building; consistency.
I’m not going to spend too much time explaining the 2 Day Rule because it’s a really simple concept. Simply put, any habit that you’re trying to develop must be done at least every 2 days. Let’s take working out for example. If you’re trying to make regular exercise a consistent habit, then you need to be doing it consistently (imagine that!).
The 2 Day Rule simply creates a threshold that you cannot pass. If you missed working out/writing/meditating/whatever yesterday, then you must do it today.
The 1:100:1 Principle
I found out about this principle from the ModernHealthMonk‘s YT channel. He has a lot of good videos out there that I highly recommend. If you’re looking to really dig deeper into developing a skill, the 1:100:1 Principle might be worth looking into. 1:100:1 stands for 1 aspect of a skill being trained for 100 days for 1 hour each day.
Make note that I specified 1 aspect of a skill. What this means is if you’re looking to become more proficient at another language and wanted to employ the 1:100:1 Principle, you’d have to choose on an aspect like speaking that language or reading the language. Doing this really hones you into that one aspect of study in order to maximize your progression instead of trying to spread yourself out over a wider field of study.
It’s important to enter into any endeavor with a plan. You don’t need to have the full plan up front so long as you’re continually assessing your progress and adapting your goals/methods as needed. Hopefully these tips gave you some inspiration on where to get started on your own goals. Until next time, keep eating away at that elephant.
You can find Jacob on Twitter @TheGentlemanJak