At this time of year we reflect on what has come to be and think of the possibilities of a new start in the New Year.
It’s now traditional to plan, making resolutions to fix what is broken and think on of what you want. But anyone who has been taught manners knows that “I want doesn’t get”. And if planing of fixing the broken worked why haven’t you achieved last year’s resolutions and goals?
This year don’t *want* to change something broken. Just keep doing what’s already working. Do more of what is right for you. Do you enjoy the walk in the sunshine to work from the bus stop? Make a resolution to do get up 15 minutes earlier in the summer and get off a stop earlier. Do you enjoy the smell of fresh cinnamon buns in the morning when you’ve remembered to set the bread machine the night before? It worked. Do it again.
Did getting up at five to look after your six your old daughter when she was sick that time, and then you spent an hour writing your novel when she went back to sleep and the house was quiet make you feel energised & vital rather than exhausted? It worked. Do it again; set the alarm an hour earlier than the rest of the house wake up and do it. Again and again.
Don’t look to add something new. Nor indeed to remove something broken. Find something that you’ve done, worked and do more of it.
Change is hard
All change is difficult and you will resist it. Even positive things. Even really stupidly obviously positively great things. Be those a change in yourself or others that will effect you.
Your partner has set a goal to lose 2 stone? At some point you’ll open the second bottle of wine and drag out the salty snacks.
She wants to pass an advanced driving test and become an instructor? You’ll pick a fight the morning of an exam about something some stupid like the neighbour’s cat crapping in the front garden and reduce her changes of passing.
You want to leave your job and start your own business selling home made cup cakes by mail order over the Internet? You’ll keep messing about with the web-site making it “perfect”, or taking time to learn some other skill before the site is ready to launch.
What to do? Recognise change is hard. Look out for those times when you or those around you are keeping to the tried and tested – no matter how crap that has been – and are resisting positive change. Then talk about it. Simply acknowledge it. Even if that’s only a quiet word to yourself.
Focus on One Thing
Goals for the year might be:
* Earn £10,000 more than last year
* Lose two stone
* Procrastinate less
* Talk to friends more
* Do 100 sit-ups
* Eat better food
* Make your own bread every day
* Learn advanced skills that will help your career…
Pick one at a time. Focus on it. Turn positive elements of achieving that goal into a habit. Then once you’ve managed it take something else from the list.
Trying to: reduce social media procrastination, do one hundred sit-ups, bake fresh bread daily and walk the kids to school every other morning…. will fail. Two weeks in and you’ll give up on them all, exhausted and frustrated. Change is hard remember, so pick one. Make that one thing a habit (which is for most people 60 to 90 days of repetition) then add something else.
Habits are also more easily formed if repeated at the same time or under the same stimuli each day. Read the Power of Habit which is a terrific book on making & breaking habits as well as “big data” and how the large chains & brands try to influence us.
Make One Thing Actually One Thing
Pick one thing to do a day from your list of goals. And make is one thing that is actually doable. No more “redecorate the back room”, but instead “take all the paintings and photographs off the back room’s walls”.
That is nice and simple. It’s concrete and most of all, it’s doable. The list above is vague: lose two stone, procrastinate less… Useless as a to-do list. Those are goals. *Elephant tasks*, if you want to eat an elephant you must do it one bite at a time. Make those to-do’s clear, concise and doable. If it takes more than fifteen minutes it’s probably a project of some kind and can be simplified. Break it down. If it takes less than five minutes go and do it right now!
Focus on One Thing: Part 2
If you’re anything like me you’ve a hundred things on your personal to-do list. And some of those hundred things are “elephant tasks” that are really another hundred things disguised as one thing, like “redecorate the back room”, or “write a novel”.
Bear in mind the ONE elephant task, (the project, the goal) that you are going to complete. Don’t take the photographs off the walls to redecorate the back room today, then do ten sit-ups tomorrow and phone someone you used to work with the day after. Pick a goal, focus on it. Take each little to-do and tick it off.
You Make Your Own Luck
That’s not to say you have to go and be a bastard. It means if you see yourself as as lucky, then you are. If you see yourself as unlucky, you are.
Luck is opportunity. If you currently see yourself as unlucky you can fix it. Exercise more. Make simple plans and to-do lists and tick them off. That’s all that’s needed. The more you see yourself achieving things the luckier you’ll feel.
Why does feeling lucky matter? Because “lucky” people are happier, and that’s really what all of this is about. Ending every day a little happier.
You want to earn more, talk to friends more, love more, live better… what you really want is be more content. Happier. So be lucky and know you make your own luck.
* Do more of what worked in the past.
* Change is hard, sometimes you’ll resist. Watch out for that.
* Turn your goals into to-do lists with doable tasks.
* Only focus on one GOAL
* Only do one THING at a time.
* Try and create new habits – they’ll take time (two to three months) to form and may require triggers.
* Think lucky.