Ditch the resolutions and accomplish more
Tuesday, January 03, 2017
Good for you if you have not wasted your time writing a New Year's resolution. Those of you who wrote it, ditch your resolution and accomplish more right now. Here's why, how and what to do.
The art and science of resolutions
About half of us make resolutions to start each new year. And of those who do, the few people who succeed share the same characteristics with people who succeed at anything — regardless of whether it is the start of the year.
We accomplish more when we are clear on our goals and ready to do the work it takes to accomplish them. The problem is, January brings with it an opportunity for a clean slate that is generally recognized by our culture. In fact, organizations that support the most common resolutions — losing weight, exercising more and quitting smoking — offer specials, discounts and incentives in January.
It is intoxicating to think of the possibilities of the new year, yet we fail because we are not ready to change or are unrealistic in our expectations.
Don't let perfect be the enemy of good
On the flip side, for those of us used to setting goals — either because we must at work or we are goal geeks — the start of a new year can be a great time to remind ourselves what we accomplished last year and inspire us to go further, faster this year. We may even feel compelled to take our goal setting up a notch by creating a personal mission statement or maybe even implementing a whole new organizing system.
As a lover of all things organizing who finds browsing Levenger relaxing, I am the last to critique any of this. But we can fall into the same traps as the resolution writers by distracting ourselves with the things surrounding change instead of focusing on doing the work.
This year, instead of setting a resolution or ratcheting up our goal-setting routines, try something far more straightforward, yet often more difficult: decide, act and move on.
For example, if you read a great article with a phrase that inspires you, don't bookmark it for later. Take a minute to figure out why it resonates with you and then do something about it immediately.
Specifically, what is it about the phrase that resonates? Is it clever? A new approach? Something you want to try? If the former, great, write it on a Post-It and put it somewhere you can see it when you need clever inspiration — then move on.
If it is something more: a new approach or a phrase that inspires action, what action is it? To be more kind and compassionate? To invest in a certain organization? To try a new food?
Whatever it is, take the first step to doing it immediately. Be more kind to the next person you see, call your broker or make a reservation. Taking the next step immediately — no matter how small — will help you create (or refine) the habit of doing, progressing and moving forward in a meaningful way.
Whether you use GTD, Franklin Covey, Highfive or some other organizing system, they all rely on a common principle: Take action and move on. Whether we file, calendar, store or task it, the idea is that we recognize an action should be taken, and we take the next logical step to process it.
Start practicing now. Recognize resolutions and organizing systems for what they are: useful tools. Realize that people accomplished great things long before we had apps, systems and social media to help us do so. And take the next steps toward something you really want to accomplish by doing something about it right now.
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