Why I don’t do resolutions and neither should you.
This could easily degenerate into a rant in amongst all the other rants against goal setting, and given the time of year, against New Year’s resolutions in particular. Look, I’m not against aiming high and missing and landing in the clouds, or however that meme goes that’s serving you up your life advice via your feed. It’s just that goal setting, if that’s all you’ve got going on, won’t work. That’s the news. Happy New Year.
“Your audacious life goals are fabulous. We're proud of you for having them. But it's possible that those goals are designed to distract you from the thing that's really frightening you--the shift in daily habits that would mean a re-invention of how you see yourself.”
Habits are what you spend your life doing. Behaviours that you repeat every day. Not goals. As much as half of what you run around doing every day is a repeat performance of yesterday (Neal, Wood, & Quinn, 2006). So you want to make sure you are repeating the good stuff. And you definitely want to make sure you are reiterating the stuff that is going to get you to where you want to go.
As for figuring that out, where you want to head, I recommend you do that. This time Lewis Carroll said it best:
"If you don't know where you're going any road will get you there."
I personally subscribe to the Tim Ferriss approach here, where you reflect on and review your year. What sucked, and what was awesome. This coming year you will want to double-down on the things that provided you with the highest wellbeing yield and work on cutting out the things that sapped your energy. I believe this recognises and honours our evolutionarily inbuilt survival instinct and negativity bias, where pain causes more impact per pound than pleasure. So work on removing the downers first, and replace them with uppers.
So now we're clear about where-to, and somewhere along the line we know we need to turn these ideas into habits.
I think James Clear sums it best for me when he describes the need for a new kind of lifestyle (all of James' work is excellent and compelling and if you want to cut through the noise to a better way of living you will want to read his work and review it regularly, maybe even turn reading his blog into a habit). Paraphrased from his excellent free habits e-book:
...If you want to get stronger, then squatting twice per week is a new kind of lifestyle. If you want to be a writer, then sitting down to write twice per week is a new kind of lifestyle. If you want to be better with your money, then sitting down to review your spending habits on a weekly basis is a new kind of lifestyle. If you want to be a better friend, then texting at least one of your friends something nice per day is a new kind of lifestyle... James' has plenty more on this. Check him out.
Habits will get you there. Goal setting in isolation will not. May 2018 be the year that we all finally figure that out.
Extra for experts.
If you're someone who is already all over this and you're looking for an additional strategy to take your game to the next level, then you may like to consider enlisting the help of a trusted friend. A tactic from Tim Ferriss who is big on accountability, and for good reason, recommends mutually assigning goals to one-another, with deadlines. I'm experimenting with this concept this year with a buddy of mine, and you can check out the categories we're using in the image below. If you like this kind of tactic you should sign-up for Tim Ferriss' 5-bullet-Friday where he regularly dispenses amazing make-the-boat-go-faster material, absolutely free.
Grab your trusted friend and nudge each other towards mutual accountability in 2018.