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10 Tips For Making New Year’s Resolutions Come True

10 Tips For Making New Year’s Resolutions Come True

New Year’s resolutions are a funny thing, aren’t they? Everyone gets together and promises that this year they’re going to do better. They’re going to achieve this, change that and ultimately be fulfilled by the end of the year. Then the booze and excitement of the night before wears off. Reality hits. That goal you just saw the New Year in with, that seemed feasible, now seems like an overwhelmingly large mountain to climb. Sure, you might try and stick to it. Maybe even keep it up for a couple of weeks. Then life has its way of taking over, and eventually you give up. “I’ll try again next year,” you comfort yourself with. Wouldn’t it be great if you could change that? If you could set a New Year’s resolution and actually stick to it? How incredible would it feel to set a goal, put in the work, and achieve it? You don’t have to wonder. You can do it.

This year can be your year of change. It can be the year that you actually achieve your resolutions. Want to know how? Of course you do, you wouldn’t be reading otherwise. So here it is, 10 tips you can use to set a goal and achieve it.

1. Tell People about Your Resolutions

By telling people about your resolutions, you are consciously committing to them. Just think about it: If you’ve told someone you’re going to do something, people are going to be expecting you to do it. You’ve not just made the commitment to you, you’ve made it to everyone you’ve told.

Another nice benefit of telling people about your resolutions is the support that comes with it. When the right people know about your resolution, they’ll stand behind you in achieving it. They’ll act as a support net, to spur you on even when you think you can’t do it. This may seem to contradict what some scientists including Derek Sivers say, but if you read this article from an inspiration expert, you will see that what Sivers and others meant actually correlates with this point.

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2. Clarify Your Resolutions

Ensure that your resolution can be actively tracked. Take, for example, a resolution of reading more. This is too vague. How will you know when you’ve achieved this goal? Will you be satisfied with reading a book once a month? A week? A day? The only way to know if you’ve achieved your resolution is by clarifying them so that they’re achievable.

If you want to read more, then you’re far better off setting a tangible and achievable goal — such as reading two books a month. You can track your progress, you’ll know if you’ve slacked on it, and you’ll know if you’ve achieved it! As thought-leader Michael Hyatt once explained, the clarification of goals makes them seem more feasible in your mind. You can find a very well-written post by him, on clarifying goals (in writing) here.

3. Make a Plan

Tying into point 2, about clarifying them. Once clarified, you can then create a plan to break down the clarified goal into smaller sub-goals that you can achieve daily. If you imagine your resolution as small, actionable steps, the achievement of the goal becomes a lot more feasible in your head.

Take the reading example. If you want to read 100 books a year, that could seem pretty overwhelming. If you break that down to reading one book every 4 days, it becomes a lot more realistic. This way you can also actively monitor your progress, and you’ll know whether or not you’re on target to meet it. You can find a great post explaining how setting goals helps, as well as how to adequately plan them, over at MindTools.

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4. Re-Frame Your Resolutions

Your resolution should not be putting you down. Don’t allow your resolution to become a passive way of saying, “I won’t be good enough until I achieve this.” This is a sure-fire way to become demotivated by the idea of achieving them, and can really get you down in the long-run. Take a new perspective on goals. Remind yourself that you’re good enough, each and every day and that your goals are just serving as a means to be better. You’re not doing it to be enough, you’re doing it to be MORE. That’s the kind of perspective that really begins to push your preconceived limits.

5.  Stop focusing on the end result

As Jeff Haden beautifully broke down in a post you can find here, when we commit to a goal, we really should commit to the process. The idea of the goals can often feel like we’re holding them at arms length. As though we should just achieve them and we’re done. When we commit to the process, the journey, of the goal, however, it’s a lot easier to make it an enjoyable experience.

The goal is in the distance, getting there is where our focus needs to be. You can’t constantly be looking at the map to see your end destination while driving, otherwise you’ll crash on the way there.

6. Know When to Take a Break

Burning out is a very real possibility when you’re not taking breaks. Find the time each day to let your mind relax. No goal or resolution should consume your mind from the moment of waking to the moment of sleep. Taking effective breaks has also been shown to increase our productivity.

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With that said, checking your social media accounts and watching TV are not breaks for the mind – they’re probably more stressful. Meditate, sing, take a walk, have a shower, do a small workout or something similar instead. If you want to know more about the advantages of taking breaks, but don’t want to sift through an academic paper, there’s a great post on FastCompany that broke it down. You can find it here.

7. Push Yourself

There’s a great quote by Bruce Lee, that says:

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

How this relates to reaching your resolutions is very simple: there will be plateaus in your progress towards achieving them. There will be points where you’re uncertain that you can really achieve what you’ve set out to do. Not just in your New Year’s resolutions but in life, in general. This is where you need to push yourself. You can’t accept “no” for an answer. Dig deep, find the will within to push past the plateau. Discouragement can become fuel when we allow it to be. Setbacks can become fuel when we allow them to be. You’ve simply got to keep pushing. You will achieve it. Tell yourself you’ll excel. You’ll be surprised how much more capable you really are.

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8. Reward yourself

Temptation bundling is a strangely, yet unsurprisingly, simple way to push yourself to achieve more. The premise is simple, tie what you want to achieve (but seem to be struggling to do so) with a reward, and get the reward each time you work towards the goal.

A good example, as demonstrated in this somewhat contradictory post, is your workout. If you really enjoy listening to audiobooks, but don’t like working out, and your resolution is to workout more frequently – limit your audiobook listening time to the gym. If you like your audiobooks enough, it’ll spur you on to actually go workout.

9. Don’t give in to the critic

You’re going to have doubters. They’re a part of life. So why not use them to motivate and encourage you? Now okay, it’s probably not best to be striving to achieve something out of spite, but as Collis Ta’eed outlines in his post about achieving more, people will try to bind you to their own self-set limitations. Take their criticism, and tell yourself that you’re not bound by what they’re bound to. Go out, make it happen, achieve it. Then, when all is said and done, go back to the critic and respectfully tell them of your achievement, and thank them for their help.

Not only will you have achieved something, but you have the potential to help another being evaluate why they’ve set such limits for themselves. It’s a win-win. (Plus you can be a little smug, but only a little.)

10. Celebrate Your Achievements

Forget what others think about it, if you’re happy about the progress you’re making, you have every right to celebrate it and shout it from the rooftops. It’ll only empower you to continue pursuing that goal. So there you have it, 10 tips for actually sticking to and achieving your New Year’s resolutions. If you liked this post, go ahead and share it or leave a comment.

Featured photo credit: resolutions via static.communitytable.com

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Last Updated on February 25, 2020

How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity

How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity

It’s 6:00 am. You have just woken up and are ready to take a shower. After the showering, it’s time to eat breakfast, catch the news by reading the morning paper, and then start your work.

You are feeling wonderful, relaxed, and happy. You have very high expectations for the day and you want to be as productive as possible.

Fast forward to 2 pm the same day. You are working in a rush and you barely had a chance to take a lunch break.

You start to feel a bit stressed and tired because of the busy schedule. Besides, it seems that you have to go back to certain tasks and fix them, because you didn’t have time to focus on them properly.

The day which started so fine has turned into a stressful one. You just jump from one task to another – as quickly as possible – without doing anything properly.

You wish you’d find a reset button, so that you could start your day from all over – with a different strategy.

What you probably experienced was this: you planned your day the night before and you felt you were on top of your tasks.

However, things started to go wrong when you kept adding tasks after each other to your list and finally your task list was many miles long. Your to do list also contained tasks which were pretty much impossible to get done in one day.

The other point which contributed to your hectic and stressful day was not understanding how much time completing a particular task would take and when to execute the task. If you had this information, it would have been easier to figure out the right timing for executing the task.

Finally, there really wasn’t any flexibility in your plans. You forgot to add a buffer between tasks and understand that certain tasks are much larger than what they seem outside.

But you know what – these reasons alone weren’t the main reason for your stress and busyness …

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What People Are Wrong About a To-Do List

Do you really know what you are supposed to do?

How much time did you actually spent on planning your day – was it just 5 minutes while the television set was distracting you?

If so, then this was probably the biggest reason why your day became so stressful.

When you plan your days, you should truly understand the tasks you are about to do – and what it takes to accomplish them. This is necessary especially with important tasks, because you are able to make progress with the tasks that matter the most.

The lack of time spent on planning will also be shown as too many big tasks stuffed to your daily list. If you haven’t broken down the task into smaller pieces, it’s probable that you are not going to get them done during the day. This in turn makes you to beat yourself for not completing your task list.

Finally, don’t treat creating a task list just like some secondary thing that you try to do as quickly as possible. In fact, when you pay more attention to your next day’s task list, the more likely is the list going to be realistic and less stressful for you.

Components of a Good To-Do List

When I talk about a good task list, I consider these characteristics to be part of it:

Balanced

The task list contains both important and less important tasks. Let’s face it: although we all would like to work on just important tasks ( e.g. goal related ones), we have to take care of the less important tasks as well (like running errands, taking care of your household or other everyday stuff).

Enough Flexibility

What happens when you have planned a task, but you are unable to take care of it? Do you have a plan B in place? If not, try to figure out the alternative action you can take in these scenarios.

Time for Transitions

Understand that transition times also eat your time. Make sure that when you plan your task list, this time is also included in your plans. Adding some extra buffer between tasks will make your list more flexible and realistic.

Not Too Many Tasks for One Day

Giving you an exact figure on how many tasks you should have on your daily list is difficult. It depends on your situation. But I’m willing to say that anything between 5-10 tasks should be enough for a day.

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Understand that certain tasks are very quick to take care of, so it’s easier to include more tasks on certain days. Just make sure that there are also important tasks on the list so that you are able to move on with your bigger projects.

Shield of Protection

Build a shield of protection around your task list, so that as few tasks as possible can land to your list and that the number of items on your list won’t increase during the day.

In the first case, try to eliminate the sources for your tasks. This is done by reducing your commitments and limiting the projects you have. The fact is that the more commitments (or projects) you have, the more likely they are going to end up as tasks for your daily list.

In the second case, make your list a closed one. I learned this concept by reading Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management by Mark Forster. In order to create a closed task list, all you have to do is to draw a line under the last task on the list. When you have done this, you are not allowed to add any new tasks to your list during the day. This ensures that the number of tasks is actually decreasing as the day goes on.

How to Create a To-Do List That Boosts Your Productivity

To make a list that you can actually accomplish the next day, do the following:

1. Eliminate the Tasks

Go through your commitments and decide if you really need each one.

For instance, I was an active member of our local computer club in my hometown, but then I realized that I don’t have enough time for that activity anymore. Although I’m still a member of the club, I don’t participate in its activities anymore. This has eliminated the tasks related to that commitment.

2. Take Your Time to Plan the List

Don’t rush creating your task list – spend some time on the planning phase. If required, “isolate yourself” for the planning part by going to a separate room in your home (or even going outside your home). This way, you can actually think the tasks thorough before you enter them onto your list.

Try to spend at least 15 minutes with your list when you plan it.

3. Move Important Tasks to the Beginning

When planning your day, make sure that the important tasks are at the beginning of your list. This ensures that you get those tasks done as quickly as possible.

For instance, as a blogger, I make sure I have the content creation tasks at the beginning of my list. As soon as I wake up, I attack those tasks immediately and they get done before I go to work.

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4. Track the Recurring Tasks

You might have recurring tasks on your list, but do you know how much time they take to accomplish?

If you don’t, make sure you do some time tracking to figure it out. This helps you to plan your day better, as you know how much time a task takes and if there is a certain time slot in your daily schedule, when the task could be executed.

5. Batch Similar Tasks

Look at your list and find out if there are similar tasks that you can batch-process. This way, you can get certain tasks off your list faster and easier.

6. Define the Tasks in More Detail

Don’t just include a task like “build a website” on your list; make sure you have broken the task to smaller pieces. The smaller the tasks are, the easier it is to take accomplish them.

7. Do Some Prep Work in Advance

Make sure that you prepare for certain tasks in advance.

For instance, I write the outlines for my guests post on Sundays, so that it’s easier (and faster) for me to start writing the actual posts when I wake up. With a little bit of prep work, I speed things up and make sure tasks get done when the right day comes.

8. Automate the Maintenance

Naturally, you could use a pen and paper approach to your task list, but try to take advantage of technology too. In fact, try to find a tool that takes care of the maintenance of your task list for you. My preferred tool is Nozbe, but there are other task management applications that you can try too.

9. Know Your Task Types and Your Schedule

Finally, when you plan your day, ask yourself these questions:

What else do I have on the schedule?

This question refers to your personal schedule. For instance, if you are traveling, make sure that your list reflects to this fact. Don’t try to “overstuff” your list with too many tasks, since it’s more likely you get only a fraction of them done.

Is the task a gatekeeper?

This question asks if the task is blocking other tasks to be executed.

Every once in a while, we might have a task, which has to be taken care of first. After you have done that, only then you can take care of the sequential tasks.

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When you focus on creating your task list in a focused manner, you’ll be able to spot the gatekeepers easily.

Do I have icebergs on my list?

This question asks if your task is actually much bigger than what it seems. Sometimes when you start working on a task, you’ll soon realize that it’s much bigger than what you initially thought (compare them to icebergs, where only the tip of the iceberg is above the sea level, but the majority of the ice is below the water).

Once again, when you focus enough on your task list during the creation phase, it’s easier to spot these “icebergs” and split the tasks into smaller, much more manageable chunks.

Is the task distraction-proof?

This final question asks if the task is distraction-proof. Not all the tasks are created equal: some tolerate more distraction, while others require your full attention.

For instance, I can check my Twitter stream or do simple blog maintenance even when I’m around my family. These tasks are distraction-proof and I can take care of them – even if I don’t have my full attention on them.

The Bottom Line

If you still have a hard time of achieving your daily tasks, make sure that you analyze the reasons why this happened. If anything, do not beat yourself up for not finishing your task list.

No one is perfect and we can learn from our mistakes.

It takes a bit practice to create a “smiling” task list. However, once you learn to put all the pieces together, things are going to look much better!

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Featured photo credit: Jacqueline Kelly via unsplash.com

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