Here we are in a brand new year. The holiday season is over, and it’s back to the old grind. But it doesn’t have to be the “old grind.” Why not do something better this year? People often refer to these goals as their New Year’s Resolution–a goal that is to be focused on and acheived in the coming year. Making resolutions is good, but it’s not good enough.
The first week of January is the busiest time of the year at the gym. Everyone is back from the holidays with a “resolution” to make themselves better. This can be a good thing. It’s important to exercise and grow as a person. But what happens at the end of January? Most of those people are back to their old ways. Gyms clear out and the line at McDonald’s gets longer.
Why does this happen?
I believe it’s because people set goals for themselves without thinking of the process. Having a goal is the easy part. If you’re broke, it’s easy to say that you want more money. If you’re overweight, it’s easy to say that you want to lose weight. The goal comes easily, but people struggle when it comes to the process.
Hopefully, this can help.
Think in Steps and Track Your Progress
Your New Year’s Resolution might be to lose 25 pounds. Okay, cool. The first thing I would do is break that into smaller goals. If you want to lose 25 pounds in a year, that means you have to lose roughly 2 pounds per month for the entire year. It also means you need to lose one pound every two weeks. Now you have a weekly goal.
With this weekly goal in mind, start tracking your progress. This may be the most important piece of improvement. On its own, it doesn’t seem like much, but tracking your goals changes your brain. It makes you constantly aware of your process and forces you to think about your goals constantly. Even if you do nothing else, tracking your progress will put you in a better spot than before.
Once you are tracking the goal itself, start tracking the drivers of that goal. If you want to get more Twitter followers, track your tweets and see which ones lead to followers. If you want to pay off your debts, track your income and expenses to maximize your take-home pay. Tracking the drivers of your goal makes you drill deeper into the root cause of your desired results.
Actions and Reactions
Think of this like a computer would–for every action, there is a reaction. Everything you do has consequences. To achieve your goals, change your actions to get the reaction you desire. And even the actions themselves could be reactions of reactions.
Let’s say your goal is to pay off your debts. What drives your debt balance? Your take-home pay. What drives your take-home pay? Your income and your expenses. How do you increase your income? You could start a side hustle, get a promotion, get a new job, etc. How do you do those? One way is to learn new skills. How do you learn a new skill? There’s tons of affordable resources out there to learn coding, website design, bookkeeping, graphic design, copywriting, and lots more. Let’s say you’re interested in coding. Perfect. That’s your starting point.
Now you have a big goal and several small goals. Check off these goals one at a time, and you’ll make tons of progress towards your ultimate goal. Learning how to code leads to having a side hustle. Having a side hustle leads to more income. More income leads to more take-home pay which leads to lowering your debt balance faster.
Make it Measurable
Let’s do a more complicated example. Say that your New Year’s Resolution is to spend more time with your family.
First, we need to think of a goal. “More time” is too vague. To make a goal achievable, you have to make it measurable. You can only track something if you can measure it. How else would you know if you’re achieving your goal or not? For this example, let’s make that goal five hours a week.
Now that we have a tangible goal, let’s think about the drivers. What else occupies your time that could otherwise be spent with your family? It could be work, your side hustle, your mistress, or your improv class that takes up all your time. It’s up to you to decide which one you cut out.
*For the record, your mistress should be the first thing to go if your goal is to spend more time with the family.*
To complete your process, you could come up with a new family tradition every Saturday. Perhaps you do a technology-free night every week or family movie night. Whatever it is, set a schedule and stick to it. It’ll make it much easier to hit your long-term goal. And once you have those times put in place, write down every time you do them. Track your progress to hit your goal.
New Year’s Resolutions are so easily broken. Most people don’t even make it to February. I believe this is due to a lack of planning. Any old Joe Shmoe can set goals for themselves. The progress comes with consistently tracking your progress and breaking down your goals into achievable tasks.
Be forewarned, this still does not come easy. Nothing good ever comes easy. It will take a consistent effort to achieve your goals and check those boxes. But by turning your goals into small, bite-sized tasks, eating the elephant (achieving your New Year’s Resolution) becomes a much simpler task.
Featured photo source: Danil Aksenov on Unsplash