Five Things At Once is back with the first post of 2014. As we enter the new year, talk naturally turns to New Years resolutions. Everyone has something about themselves that they would like to change. They will make resolutions, try different approaches in an effort to better themselves; but by next month, many people will already have gone back to their old ways. This is so common, one can’t help but wonder: Is it even possible to better yourself in this modern digital world? Of course it is. You just need to know how to avoid the pitfalls of resolutions that don’t work. It doesn’t matter what it is you are trying to achieve—be it a fitness goal, improving your job situation, or a creative endeavor. Just get focused and work hard, and follow the sound principles below for a better you this year.
Five ways to create lasting change in 2014 and beyond:
1) Quantify your goals.
New Years resolutions don’t work because they are too general. For example—”I want to get in shape,” or “I want to read more.” They sound good on the surface but don’t really mean anything. How would you measure them? How do you know when you’re making progress? Create a concrete goal and actually give it a number. How much weight do you reasonably expect to lose (or gain) this year? How many books are you going to read by the end of December? By quantifying your goals, you are creating a built-in way to measure your progress. Just be realistic. Make an overall strategy for your direction in the coming year, then break that down into bite-sized achievable goals for each month. Remember, this isn’t a sprint, you should be in this for the long haul.
2) Write things down.
This one is simple, though a lot of people skip it. However, it is an important part of the process. Write down your strategy and your goals for each month. I suggest actually printing out a strategy sheet and taping it up on your wall; make sure it is in a place where you will see it every morning. Quantifying your goals and writing them down makes them real, and thus your commitment to them becomes solidified. Being reminded of them often will help you stay on track. Keeping a laser-guided focus is the key to winning the day-to-day battle when the ultimate prize is a long term goal.
3) Stay healthy.
Easy to say but not easy to do. Regardless—live it, learn it, do it. Keep a foundation of basic nutrition and fitness. This will help in ways that are hard to measure and may seem unrelated, such as keeping control in stressful situations and even just having the endurance to survive long days. Always remember, if you don’t get enough rest and stay hydrated nothing else will matter. It’s like building a castle on sand, without a solid foundation it will all fall apart eventually. But your house won’t fall apart if you maintain a solid foundation of the basics. This will serve you well when you’re tested in the coming year, and you will be tested.
4) Count the cost.
Know exactly what you are trying to do and what it will take to get you there. Obviously this will take change in your life, otherwise whatever you are trying to achieve—well, you would have it already. And as with anything worthwhile, it will take sacrifice. What price are you willing to pay to get what you want? What are you willing to give up along the way? As many people have said, sometimes in life you have to trim the fat. Find the extraneous things in your life and trim away.
5) Get boring.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ~Steve Furtick
Those who have achieved greatness always make it look so easy. We see athletes and pop stars and wonder at how exciting their lives seem to be. It is too easy to forget all the hundreds of hours of practice and training it takes to get to the good times. In movies we usually get a couple minutes of some training montage, and the whole rest of the movie is the protagonist doing some exciting thing or incredible feat. But in real life, it’s just the opposite; almost the whole story is the training, the practice, the working through things over and over—with the exciting feat being the short thing at the end. Forget the movies, real life is hard work, and it’s boring and repetitive, and makes you want to pull your hair out. If you want to get results this year, stay focused and get boring.
It’s not rocket surgery. We all tend to make life more complicated than it needs to be. Build a foundation of personal health and work hard every day. Your system of new habits will propel you forward in this new year. And as boring as it may seem at times, the lasting change you create for yourself will be well worth the effort.
What are your strategies and goals for the new year?