On the 1st February, the average American gives up their New Year's resolution.
According to a 2020 poll by the New York Post, it takes just 32 days for the average person to finally break their resolution(s).
The Independent suggests this break could be even sooner. They pinpointed the second Friday in January as “Quitters' Day”.
All this is to say you may need help sticking to your goals. This is where creative “systems” can help.
I say systems. Really they’re habits. I want to share them with you so you can put plans in place to make 2022 your best year yet.
Here they are.
System #1: Take a “What Do You Want” Reading
We all have different desires. We all have different measures of success. The golden question, then, is this:
What do you want?
Our brains are wired to seek rewards, so asking this question is essential. It’s a question that can guide your actions. I recommend reflecting on it at least once a day.
To help answer this question, consider the following:
What do you enjoy doing? Chances are, you enjoyed doing this when you were younger. You got so lost in the ‘thing’ that time whizzed by.
What do you avoid doing? Work can be challenging, and sometimes it can be a chore. The problem is, this may be the work you need to do in order to grow. Notice when you start scrolling on your phone. How are you feeling? What are you avoiding? Will doing this task get you closer to what you want?
What do you want to feel? The things we chase, like money or new handbags, are not what we want. It’s the feelings we associate with them that entice us. We want to feel powerful. We want to feel stylish. We want to feel special.
Try stuff. Taste stuff. Experiment to figure out what you want.
You can go one step further and define your principles. Set aside time for self-reflection. The investment can be ROI positive. Nicolai Chen Nielsen’s book, Return on Ambition, can help you get started. He discusses his methods on Anatomy of a Leader.
System #2: Create a 6-Month Plan
A 6-month plan is a living, breathing document. I recommend a Google doc, but tools like Evernote are also effective. Choose whichever feels comfortable to you.
Before you start creating this plan, consider making a scrapbook. This scrapbook can house your dreams for the future. Look at it every morning and it’ll help inspire you.
For example, it could include:
Your goals for 2022
Pictures of your dream home
100 life goals
Your favourite quotes
Flick through it every night. You’re not looking for answers. You’re feeding your brain.
“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” — Thomas Edison
Where do these 2022 goals come from?
Digital entrepreneur, Tom Kuegler, recommends writing down 100 of them. It sounds daunting but don’t overthink this. Write whatever pops into your head. You can always cross them out.
Once you’ve got 100 goals, consider the following:
Which goals excite you?
Which goals can you achieve in six months?
Will achieving these goals make other goals easier or unnecessary?
This should help you choose five.
Now it’s time to put plans in place. Google can teach you how. Here are the steps:
Search online, go down rabbit holes, and save articles in your 6-month plan. Pick out specific, actionable steps.
After detailing your goals, attach dates. Work back from the end goal to realise what you need to do to stay on track - each month and each week.
Break your plan into pieces and ask yourself, “what’s the one thing I can do today to get closer to my goals?” Do this.
Type daily reflections into your 6-month plan. Are you on track? What worked well today? This document will be your Bible.
Take this one step further and do what Nir Eyal recommends in his book Indistractable. Timebox it into your calendar (or watch Episode 7)
System #3: Computer Says No
It’s easy to fill our days with the uninspiring.
Meetings, emails, and the like.
Try saying no. It makes a yes more powerful. When exciting opportunities pop up, you’ll have room for them. You can give them your full attention.
Best-selling author, Mark Manson, offers this advice for saying no.
“Learning to say no gracefully is an important skill…
“I’ve found the easiest way to do it is to create rules for myself… When I tell people ‘no, I have a rule and this is what it is’, they take it really well. They respect it.
“So if someone comes to me like ‘hey, I’ve got this charity event’... I say to them ‘look, my rule is I do four events a year and I’m already booked - sorry'. People realise it’s the principle that has let them down. It's less personal.
“Another rule is it’s got to be f*ck yes or no…
"‘I’m not feeling this and I wouldn’t be able to give it the energy it deserves. I’m going to say no.’ When you put it like that, people are like ‘ahh, Mark Manson. He's a good guy. He’s looking out for me.”
Writer and entrepreneur, Derek Sivers, offers a similar perspective in Anything You Want:
“If you’re not feeling “Hell yeah, that would be awesome!” about something, say no… Refuse almost everything. Do almost nothing. But the things you do, do them all the way.”
System #4: Become an Ideas Machine
In Atomic Habits, James Clear shares his habit-stacking framework. It goes like this. By identifying a current habit and stacking a new one on top, you’re more likely to make the new habit stick.
Here’s the formula:
“After/Before [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].
“For example, after I sit down to dinner, I will say one thing I’m grateful for that happened today.” — James Clear
You can apply this to ideas. James Altucher suggests that by writing ten ideas a day, you’ll build your “idea muscle”. You can then become an “idea machine”.
For example, whilst waiting for a train, you could type ten ideas into a Google doc. Some will be great. Some will be trash. At the end of the week, you could select the best ideas and either 1) work on them yourself, or 2) email the ideas to companies.
This, in turn, could lead to opportunities and finding ways of doing things even better.
If 2021 didn’t go to plan, 2022 could be the start of something better.
Better doesn’t have to mean bigger. It’s often the small things that we do consistently that make the difference. These actions become our habits. These habits dictate our lives.
Here’s a quick summary of four creative “systems” that could help get you closer to your dream life:
#1: Take a “what do you want” reading. This is the only question that matters.
#2: Create a 6-month plan. Think big, plan the steps, and execute.
#3: “Computer says no.” Saying no makes a yes more powerful.
#4: Become an ideas machine. Stack habits wherever you can.
If you have been in your position for some time and are wondering what is next for you, I am offering the first 3 executives a FREE Career Coaching Session. Get in touch...