New Years Resolutions

A new year, new resolutions. I came close on a few of mine this year, but still feel like I left a little meat on the bone.  There’s about to be a flood of articles on how to make and keep new years resolutions, so I thought I’d write out  what I’m going to try, and in a year we’ll see how it turned out.

Resolve behaviors, not achievements.

This is something I’ve taken from Ben Bergeron over at the podcast Chasing Excellence. We all want to achieve things, to be able to point to a big thing and say “I did that”, whether it’s adding a hundred pounds to our deadlift, finishing a book, getting a promotion at work, or achieving some other life goal.

These are bad goals however. Firstly, it’s difficult to measure progress toward them. If we have a bad day and lift less than usual, did we move backwards? If we realized two chapters in our story didn’t work and needed to be rewritten, are we further from our goal than we were before we noticed their faults? Big goals like this are often so far out, that it is hard to see ourselves building toward them day by day and can incentive short term planning that is destructive in the long run. What if you left those poor chapters in so you could meet your goal and ‘finish’? How will that present you to your readers when they try to read something you knew didn’t work?

Secondly, these issues are often outside our control. If your business downsizes, promotions may not be available, or your boss may not want to promote his best employee out of his department. If you have major life events or issues, it can have a negative effect on your numbers in the gym. Are you supposed to ditch your family to lift?

Instead, set goals to establish daily behavior that will move you toward the things you want to achieve.

Want to add weight to your deadlift? Resolve to spend a minimum of thirty minutes every day working on it. Some days, that will mean thirty minutes spent on mobility, recovery, and bodyweight work. Other days, it will mean an hour of moving steel. Those short days of recovery and mobility will ensure that you are able to make full use of the days you have more time, and will keep you from regressing when the needs of life intrude.

Want to finish a book? Establish a minimum of twenty minutes at your computer working on nothing else, or a minimum of writing 500 words. Again, the short days will allow you to make larger impact on the days when there is more time available.

Want to improve at work? Resolve to spend thirty minutes every day reading a book or taking a course that will help. is a wonderful resource for courses on writing, business, IT, and just about anything else you can think of. There’s book on Execution, Discipline, and leadership on Kindle. I work in IT, so getting certifications is an easy way to keep moving forward and learning about new technologies.

What these little behaviors do is help you move toward your bigger goal, letting you see every day how the little steps add up. Over the past two weeks, forcing myself to write at least five hundred words has helped me keep moving through my story even though there was a lot of  other things competing for my time.

So far, this has helped me in two really big ways. First, when I don’t have much time, knowing that I’ve met my goal, small as it is, helps me keep a positive mindset. Maybe I didn’t get as far as I’d like to, but I’m moving toward my goal.

And second, when I’m tired or not feeling it, 500 words seems fairly manageable. I know I can hit it in about twenty minutes, so it’s easy to start. Then, by the time I’ve finished them, I’m warmed up and usually have a few more ideas to keep me rolling.

We rarely achieve great things in one day, or even a week. True success comes from taking small steps daily toward a distant goal, and then one day, you look up and you’ve arrived.

I’ll put up a few more of my ideas over the next couple of days as I work through my own process, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. What are some things that inspire you, that you’ve found helped you set good goals? What are you going to try this year?

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