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The Ultimate New Year’s Resolution

The Ultimate New Year’s Resolution
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Every year, over half of the U.S. population set New Year’s goals. Out of those millions of people, only about 8% actually succeed in hitting their goals. The rest either have a faulty goal setting system or weren’t really serious about accomplishing them in the first place.

So rather than waste time on a New Year’s resolution that you will have long abandoned by February 1st, maybe it’s time for a better strategy.

Back in 2015, here were the top 3 New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Get Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More

All of these are great goals on paper. They each have something unique that can improve that person’s life. There is nothing wrong with setting goals to improve your life.

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The challenge is that most of these goals never get accomplished. It’s quite sad because most people have great intentions when setting their New Year’s resolutions.

You’ve been there: you set a resolution that you are really fired up about…for a couple weeks. Life gets in the way and before you know it, July comes and you laugh off the thought of setting that goal in the first place.

According to Timothy Pychyl, professor of psychology at Carleton University in Canada, the biggest issues with New Year’s resolutions are that they are a form of “cultural procrastination”. We wait to transform our lives only when the motivation of the New Year comes.

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The problem is that we aren’t actually ready to make the necessary changes in our lives. We don’t develop the right habits (or stop the bad ones) and therefore quickly burn out.

Just like those weekly fad diets: people are great two weeks in, but burn out by week 3.

It doesn’t matter how smart your goals are, it matters how intentional you are about changing your behavior.

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So in this new year, don’t set your typical New Year’s resolution. Decide to set a “being goal” to become the person that will hit that goal.

Let me explain what I mean:

Let’s take those top goals from before. Now, what if we changed those goals into who that person would need to become in order to hit that goal?

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Here are those resolutions – revamped:

  1. Lose WeightBecome a health nut
  2. Get OrganizedBecome a detail queen
  3. Spend Less, Save More – Become a frugillionaire

Just a simple re-wording massively changes the context of the goal and puts the focus back on the individual’s growth rather than external factors that can sometimes be out of our control. Now you are designing who you want to be rather than what you want to do.

The only way to become something different is to change what you do on a daily basis. True transformation begins in our daily routine. Yet, so many people continue to set lofty doing goals at the beginning of the year and fail to change their daily actions.

You see, it’s rarely about what you need to do, but rather who you need to become.

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Transformations don’t happen overnight. They take an inner change before an outer change can occur. This is why setting “being goals” rather than “doing goals” increases your chances of achieving your New Year’s resolutions. Decide who you are going to become next year and you will achieve your doing goals along the way.

So while you set goals for the new year, rather than just think about the outcomes, think about how you are going to get there and how you are going to become that person that kicks ass in 2017…

Question: What is your “being goal” for this new year? Provide some examples so we can all learn from each other.

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Scott Bradley

Self-Leadership Coach and Creative Writer

Why Big Dreams Can Be Big Problems new years resolutions The Ultimate New Year’s Resolution

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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