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The Right Way To Do New Year's Resolutions
Focused, Simple, Aggressive, Actionable and Frequent
I’ve generally not been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. Most people don’t keep them. There are a few reasons for that– they weren’t serious about their goals in the first place, or they relied too heavily on “new goal motivation.” But as for the goals themselves, a lot of people set too many resolutions and then don’t make them specific or actionable enough.
In the last few years though, I’ve gotten into resolutions. It turns out there’s a way to make them work.
So, here’s how to do it: focused, simple, aggressive, actionable, and frequent.
Focused: You’re going to have one resolution. That’s right, only one. For now.
Simple: That resolution should be phrased as a simple goal– lose twenty pounds, save up five thousand dollars, finish your art project. Mine is to get this blog to ten thousand (unpaid) subscribers.
Aggressive: Your resolution has a deadline: three months. That means April 1st. Go back to the last check and double check that it’s something you could realistically achieve in three months if you work hard. It should be aggressive but achievable with hard work; you may need to adjust it a bit. Most people don’t have enough urgency because they give themselves a full year to complete their resolutions. That’s too long.
I’m honestly a little unsure whether ten thousand subscribers in three months is realistic, but I think it might be doable with enough high-profile guest posts. We’ll see.
Actionable: You’ve got one goal, now you need to translate it into actions. This has two subcomponents.
First, big daily tasks. Each day, you have one to three big task to complete to move you closer to your goal. How many depends on how much time you’re putting into this goal– if this is something you’re doing on the side like weight loss it’ll usually be just one task, but might occasionally be two like working out and meal prepping. If it’s something you work full-time at like building a business, two or three a day should be the norm. When in doubt, err on the side of having fewer daily tasks but making them big and high-impact.
My daily task for today is writing this article. It’s New Year’s Eve so just one big task for today is good.
Second subcomponent: habits. Come up with small daily habits that support your goal. You don’t necessarily need to think of all of them up front– it takes about a month to build a habit, and you’ve got three months, so you can add new ones as you go along, at least up to the 60 day mark. In fact it’s better to space them out and not be working on more than a couple at a time.
The habits I’m working on to begin with are sitting at my desk by 10 AM (I have a tendency to lay on the couch playing with my phone for too long in the mornings) and inbox zero– clear out all my inboxes every day by either answering emails, deleting them or flagging and archiving them, as needed. I’m sure I’ll add another one in a few weeks.
Frequent: Like I said, the three month deadline gives you urgency. It also means you’re not actually doing New Year’s resolutions anymore; from now on you’re doing quarterly resolutions. One every three months. Finish this one, then pick a new one for Q2.
Simple, aggressive goals, pursued with focus, discipline, and a clear and actionable plan. Get them done fast, one at a time, then on to the next one.
It’s going well so far– I got this article done in a half hour and now I get to enjoy my New Year’s Eve.
Happy New Year. Happy New You.
P.S. In the spirit of starting right away– if your goal also involves building a blog and you haven’t started one yet, do that right now by clicking the button below. It takes like ten minutes to set up. I know you probably won’t have time to write an article today, but that’s alright– just get the ball rolling.