New year's resolution: it’s more about the system than it is about the end goal

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Introduction

As I’m writing this introduction I’m executing my system of writing 200+ words a day for my blog. I have a goal of publishing two blog posts every month. I could have said something along the lines of, “I want to publish two blog posts a month”, but as I learned from experience, that is probably not gonna happen. So instead I learned to focus on the system that gets me there eventually.

Just like many of you, I was struggling with setting goals in general and especially making new year’s resolutions stick, till I came across the book Atomic Habits By James Clear, here is a quote from the book that describes the importance of giving more attention and importance to the system that would make our goals a reality.

James Clear

You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.

Atomic Habits

As this year is about to end, there is no better time to set a solid plan to make setting goals and working towards achieving them a reality.

1. Pick the right resolution

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Your success in achieving a goal in the new year’s resolution is bounded by the goal or resolution itself, saying things like I want to lose weight this year is more likely to fail, same as 33% of every year’s resolutions that don’t make it past January.

You Dream Day

If you are struggling with choosing your resolution, take a pen and paper and write down how your dream day will be like. from the time you would wake up to the last 30 minutes before bed, Get as many details on the paper as you can.

Now that you have a clear vision of what your perfect day would be like, it is time to reverse engineer it and extract specific goals. This leads us to discuss an important thing about goals

SMART Goals

If this is the first time you hear about this term, you might be wondering if there are also dump goals, if so don’t feel alienated. That is the first thought that came to my mind also. but this SMART is an acronym coined in the journal Management Review in 1981 for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  • Specific: “I want to start running this year” is what most people will say when they are making the year’s resolutions list, but that is too vague of a goal. instead, you should be specific with your goal. say ’ You want to have a goal: How much weight do you want to lose and at what time interval?” said Katherine L. Milkman, an associate professor of operations information and decisions at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. nytimes.com. “Running Two miles every Saturday is more likely to stick”.
  • Measurable: If you take the running example above, you can measure your progress easily, but you should know that every journey is measurable but it is up to you for figuring that out.
  • Achievable: What keeps most resolutions unfulfilled, is people biting off more than they can chew, you should know that there is nothing wrong with dreaming big, but if you want to start going to the gym regularly, you don’t start with imaging that you would have the rock’s physic in the first year of going to the gym. Keep it real.
  • Relevant: The motives behind your goal should be based on a strong desire for wanting for changing your life for the better, not on a whim of a moment. set down with yourself and figure out what is the most important change you want to make in your life.
  • Time-bound: You should be realistic about the timeline needed for achieving your goal, or as Charles Duhigg puts it in his book The Power Of habit

Charles Duhigg.

If you’re building a habit, you’re planning for the next decade, not the next couple of months.

The Power Of habit

Build a system

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1. Design your environment

I noticed that when I put a book on top of my bed stand, I read more pages that night. Also if I left my notion blog post page open, and when I wake up my computer from sleep, my mouse cursor is blinking, waiting for a new word to be typed, that way I get started right to writing my blog post.

So organizing my environment in that way helped me get started on the goal I want to achieve. If this hack is working for me (being lazy as I am), rest assured that it will help you even more.

2. The first 5s are the hardest

Allen Woody

80% of success is just showing up - Allen Woody

If your goal is to get in shape, you should know that just lifting your gym bag from the floor, based on you packing it the night before (following design your environment hack), and heading out, is all you need to do in order to start your first gym session.

I should add that when Allen Woody said that “80% of success is just showing up”, he doesn’t mean showing up just once, he meant to show up every time, that is what markup that 80% of success he talked about.

3. From Goal To Habit

You should know that when setting a new resolution, whether it is a financial, fitness, social, or reading resolution, you are preparing the ground for a new habit. This leads to asking the following question. What turns doing something into a habit?

Habits are a combination of a cue that triggers the brain to start a routine in anticipation for a reward, or as it is well put in the book of The Power of Habit that we mentioned earlier

Charles Duhigg

This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental, or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future

The Power Of habit

This means that building new good habits or breaking old bad ones is tied to understanding the habit-making process.

What to do if you had a setback

When you fail to achieve your goals, if you failed, there are some things to keep in mind

  1. Just start over: Who said that your resolution always should be at the start of every year, you can start a new resolution/goal in any month of the year. That being said, when you fail in achieving a goal, act like nothing had happened and resume the next day.
  2. you fail you lose money: it is good to give a friend $100 for example and if you didn’t achieve your goal, you will never see that money again.
  3. Take notes, change and resume: If you fail for some reason or another, you might not be the reason, take a step back and reflect on where the wrong is, the failure might be due to an outside influence. promise yourself that you will ignore it next time.

Summary

  1. pick the right resolution
    • to help yourself pick a resolution, write down what your dream day will look like
    • pick Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals
  2. Build a System
    • Design your environment so it will help you
    • master the habit of showing up
    • turn your goal into a habit
  3. What to do if you had a setback
    • Just start over
    • you fail you lose money
    • take notes, change, and resume

Credits

A really good article about new year’s resolution in NewYorkTimes

A Good video from Matt D’Avella YouTube channel