This is about building some momentum going into the new year 2018. People want to think that a new year is a new you. They're hoping that some extra magic happens because they watched a glittery ball drop. Instead of starting from scratch, prepare, get it going. Preparation is the key to getting where you want to go. Most people's new year resolutions revolve around being more healthy. That is hard to define. So take the time to define it. Perhaps it means losing 15 pounds. Getting your blood pressure low enough to get off medications. Completing a 100-mile bike race. Running your first 5k. Walking a 12-minute mile. Eating 3 servings of vegetables a day. The list is endless.
Step 1. Define, in very specific detail, what you want to accomplish.
This needs to be written down. Research has shown that what gets written by hand is a much more powerful way of doing things. Buy a journal/writing pad that can be used daily for a year. Get a pen with blue ink. Research says we remember blue ink better than black ink. (It can't hurt!)
Now, you can have more than one goal, but it's hard to have 3 or 4 specific and different goals. But, some goals become very similar when you break them down. I'll have several people tell me they want to get to the gym more, eat better, lose some weight. At the end of the day, they are all kind of the same goal. Write a book, lose weight, attend all my kids games, make more money. These are all very different goals, so choose wisely.
Step 2. Figure out what you are going to give up. This is the power of negativity.
One example is giving up smoking. You're not doing anything extra, but stopping doing something that isn't healthy. Perhaps it's giving up your happy hour with friends or one night out a week. Giving up TV, cable. Giving up buying a treat with your coffee. Make some time for what you're trying to do. At the very least, by examining your week/day hour by hour, you will be much more conscious on how you are spending your time.
"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing." Annie Dillard
Step 3. Make a list of all the Micro things it takes to accomplish your goal.
Take the Micro and make it Macro for awhile. I call this "consistency beats intensity." We all know the person that is gung ho for a few weeks and then fades like a shooting star 3 weeks in. They stuff every possible new habit into the day. Wake up early, eat a crazy smoothie, hit the gym, run, cook every meal, do yoga, no TV, go to bed early, read that book. 3 weeks later, they are stressed out and burned out.
Take what you envision to be your ideal day and mold that day into a week. Instead of cooking every day, pick one dinner out of 7 and cook it. Get that one meal down. What to buy for it, what to keep in your fridge to make it. Did you cook that one meal one time in the week. That is a check mark in your journal.
Instead of hitting the gym everyday, get to the gym one time. (Gym is just a word for lifting weights.) Work out for 45 min doing something you enjoy. Did you do that one time this week. Check it off in your journal.
Did you floss your teeth one time this week? Did you elevate your heart rate for 30 min one time this week (aerobic stuff). Check those boxes off. Wake up early one day, go to bed early one day. Check those boxes.
The idea is to make a checklist of what your vision of a perfect day is. Then expand your day to a week. It's not about burning out day to day, it's about building slow growth over the course of that week. Get momentum, (there's that word again). Create consistency with smaller commitments that will most likely bleed into bigger ones. Also, check those boxes - for real. Our brains are wired to achieve pleasure in marking things done. They are victories after all.
Step 4. Remove Restraints
Listening to Freakonomics Podcast on Behavior Change and they interviewed Daniel Kahneman. He had a great idea that he credited to Kurt Lewin: people's behavior is driven by two main forces - Restraining and Driving, and our behavior is the equilibrium between these two. There are two ways of going about influencing behavior. Get rid of the restraining forces, or increase the driving forces. Increasing the driving forces is a poor choice, getting rid of the restraining forces is the key.
Instead of trying to figure out how you can eat more vegetables, figure out why you aren't doing it in the first place. This goes for everything. At the end of the day, we all have more than enough information. We need more application. One by one, address the answers that pop up with the question "why not?" Remove the restraints to make moving forward easier.
Step 5. Create Discipline
Look at your week and write down when you are going to do what. Obviously, make sure that it's a real time commitment. Can't hit the gym at 5:30 if you routinely get out of work at 5:45. No matter what, commit to what you put in writing no matter what you "feel."
Feelings at the end of the day are irrelevant. "I don't feel great, so I'm going to skip the gym today." "I feel tired, so I'm not going to cook tonight." We have all said that and done that. How many of us have said "I'm still tired I'm going to lay in bed and not show up to work?" "My kid is really bothering me today, I don't think I'll take the time and get dinner for him." Can you see how silly that sounds. We can keep commitments when they are obvious. Just eliminate feelings as a choice. This is how discipline is created. Doing what you said you would do.
"Discipline Equals Freedom" Jocko Willinck
Get started now, and create momentum to hit the ground running in 2018. Don't wait for the glittery ball to drop.