New Year’s Resolutions Are a Joke…
… But You Should Do Them Anyways
New Year’s resolutions are a joke… but we do them anyways. Why? This arbitrary day holds such power to motivate us into thinking that we can change many of our behaviors overnight, literally. The concept is great but the execution has much to be desired. If new years resolutions worked, the world would be full of rich & skinny people but quite the opposite is happening. People are more overweight, and in more debt, than ever.
You should resolve to improve yourself everyday including New Year’s, but not only on New Year’s.
Why are New Year’s Resolutions Failing?
The reason for the lack of success is due to the fact that most of the time, the only thing holding resolutions intact is the hope that “it will be different this year”. Changing your life requires retrofitting your routine, your mindset…your habits.
On top of that, once they have been broken, it is hard to get back on track and keep the momentum going. This is because no framework has been put in place to help maintain the desired actions. In fact, the only framework that has been setup until this point, was the one that allowed the bad habits to exist in the first place. So naturally, people fall back into their old ways.
Develop a Structure:
In order to make true change, you need to set up a structure in your life that supports your decision to change (beyond shear will power).
Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. -James Clear Atomic Habits
This structure needs to include goals but it cannot end with that. You need to have a system to track progress and hold yourself accountable. Before ever even thinking about starting, a strategy needs to be put in place that defines Who/What/Where/When/How and how you will track your progress.
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax. – Abraham Lincoln
Start Small and Improve Every Day:
In many cases it is better to start small and build momentum slowly, in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed and stopping.
The Dave Ramsey debt snowball is credited with getting people out of debt quickly despite the fact that it is not the mathematically optimized method. If someone wanted to pay off their debt as efficiently as possible, they would follow the debt avalanche which prioritizes interest rates from highest to lowest. The debt snowball on the other hand, prioritizes debt size from smallest to largest (despite the amount of interest). The reason for this is purely due to psychology. When someone sees the success of their smaller debts being paid off quickly, it gives them confidence. This confidence builds a deeper motivation and belief that they are able to achieve their goal. The momentum this brings will help drive the long-term game. Remember, the intent is to create a lifestyle change, not a quick hit list.
Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. It is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure. – Jim Rohn
One other thing to note, make sure that you are giving yourself realistic targets. If you set unattainable goals, you will likely lose motivation. James Clear emphasizes small compounding wins (1% better every day) that will exponentially explode over the long-term.
Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can accomplish in a decade. – Bill Gates
Create an Accountability System:
In world class manufacturing, key performance indicators (KPI’s) are created to track all critical targets. This is a fancy way saying they set goals. These are tracked on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to show progress. If the organization is above target, then there is time to celebrate. If they are below the requirement, then someone has to answer as to why they are not meeting the requirements and what they are going to do in order to make it better.
We can simulate this in our own goals by setting up targets with dates and finding an accountability partner. This is an individual that you trust but will also challenge you when you are underperforming your target.
Find Your Tribe:
Finally, surround yourself with a group of people that share the same ideals that you are trying to achieve.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn
If you are trying to lose weight, don’t hang out with a bunch of overweight people that are doing nothing to change themselves. If you want to be rich, don’t take advice from someone living paycheck to paycheck. Find your tribe. Pursue advice from a mentor, someone that has already reached the summit. Surround yourself with them, and more importantly, cut ties with the ones holding you back.
When scientists analyze people who appear to have tremendous self-control, it turns out those individuals aren’t all that different from those who are struggling. Instead, ‘disciplined’ people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations. The people with the best self-control are typically the ones who need to use it the least. It’s easier to practice self-restraint when you don’t have to use it very often. – James Clear Atomic Habits
Alright, so I haven’t finished listening to my own notes. I am in no way an expert, just a guy trying to improve his own life. That is the point of this blog. I want to pull the best ideas from the experts that are out there (Books, blogs, podcasts, etc) and consolidate their useful information into this blog so that we can learn how to improve ourselves together.
I have New Year’s resolutions, but have not refined my own structure. This is a work in progress, and I will share updates in the coming weeks.
Does it matter that I did not get this done before Jan 1st? Absolutely not. We are setting up a structure to improve the long-term journey and will continue to choose to live a better life. Every day is a new day, and every day we should choose to improve ourselves. We cannot put so much pressure on just one day per year.
My Incomplete 2021 Goals:
- Pay off the house
- Finalize FI Target Date
- Read 1 book per month
- Lose 20 lbs
- Climb a 5.12 (solid not a minus) by end of Year
Family Life Balance
- Cut work to 40hrs/week
- Do one memorable thing per month
Until next time – continue to Choose Beta,
Photo Shout Outs:
Photo by Hari Nandakumar