Christmas time is a time when people are preparing for the New Year and thinking about their lives. How could they change it, what ideas they could bring to life? This is the time where our instincts are speaking and our inherent need to improve, to make our lives better. This is why motivation is always a very powerful technique to achieve higher performance, even though it might initially seem like it’s repeating the same things all over again. Indeed it is, that’s where its power lies in.
Each time I hear about new year’s plans, I am thinking, that there are so many plans I can’t follow on a weekly basis, even though I iterate and describe them carefully each week. To have plans for the whole year, without this consistent, repetitive discipline, really hard work that moves you one step at a time towards your goal, I think is useless.
So my suggestion for people making plans for the new year is as follows:
Do have one goal, for which you will have a precise schedule. The best is if the schedule could span across a period of not more than 3 months. Planning anything further, and especially planning to work on it for the whole year is not necessary and generates a risk of failure. There’s also usually no point in having many goals at the same time (sometimes it’s reasonable, but more often it’s just disturbing), the fewer goals you’re approaching at the moment, the better you do it, the more focused on it you may be.
There are many things that might come up during a year. Even in the projects at work, where schedules are usually very precise and schedules rigoristic, the priorities are moving up and down very quickly. In life, it’s even worse, especially that it’s very rare that people have a very precise schedule and enough discipline to follow it each day.
It’s harder to reach bigger goals. The smaller and concrete the goal, the easier to achieve it. And having a smaller goal does not mean you can’t have next one just after that. When planning it, you will already have a different context, as many things will change since the beginning of the process.
Moreover, you will already have one step completed, which will make you proud of achieving something, which will motivate you.
So, instead of saying “this year I will quit smoking” I would say “this week I won’t smoke a single cigarette, whatever it takes”, or even “today I won’t smoke a cigarette”, sounds easier, right? And after the first day, you have already a success, which will make you feel it’s really possible.
Instead of saying “this year I will start blogging” maybe you should rather say “on Monday I will book a domain for my blog”, once you have a domain, you say “on Wednesday I will find a hosting for my blog”.
Keep macro planning like up to one quarter, micro planning for one week. Spend some time each week on Sunday (or whatever the day that closes the week for you) and sum up, what’s been achieved, what could have gone better, and finally, what is the plan for next week.
I can understand that saying “I will do … this year” is easier than having 52 sessions of saying “on Monday I’ll do … and on Tuesday … and …”, and 52 weeks of systematic, disciplined effort to reach the target. But guess what, this difference is what makes things happen. This is why new years goals are usually abandoned after few weeks.
So if you’re thinking to do something specific next year, let’s have a test. Please think about the process of reaching the goal. How could you extract a part of the process, that is reachable within the period of maximum 3 months (the shorter period, the better)?
Then, think about the first few steps, and plan one week of work to achieve it. Don’t over plan, make the steps small enough to be able to complete them. Help yourself and move one step at a time. Try to accomplish this 1 week and see how it goes. If it won’t work – you can either resign and say that it sucks, or see what was wrong.
If the problem was that you haven’t been motivated enough to move your ass and accomplish the smaller goal, how do you think achieving bigger one could go?
If the problem was that there were too many tasks, plan next week with smaller tasks. Sometimes to get started it really has to consist of tiny steps. But over time, while you systematically progress, it will build up to something bigger. Something that is hard to achieve overnight. Believe me, there’s nothing for free in this world.
Work hard. Be systematic. Make your dreams come true.
This year, this quarter, this week, TODAY.
Advent of Blog
This is my thirteenth post in the series of Advent of Blog 2017. I will be publishing one post per day as I mentioned in my first post of the series.