Instead, it's a path forward towards a better tomorrow for you and our world.
I do not want to convince you to make New Year’s resolutions you cannot possibly keep.
But if you take steps daily – and this is the key – you can be a better YOU 365 days from now. Actually, you can be a better version of YOU tomorrow. It’s that simple.
Grandiose New Years resolutions don’t work! They are self-defeating, and everyone knows it. Statistics bear this to be true: 80% of people who make New Years resolutions break them – repeatedly, to the point of abandoning them – by February.
So don’t do that!
What can you do instead?
1 | Identify five simple things you want to do consistently in 2019.
Some may be the same as what you’ve been doing in 2018, some new. They can be as simple (but profound) as remembering to hug your loved one(s) daily or as intense as running for a minimum of 45 minutes/day.
Do not do more than five. If you make a long list, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Even five is pushing it. But if you make them somewhat diverse, spanning the various arenas of your life, you are more likely to accomplish them.
What you choose will depend upon the type of person you are and how successful you’ve been at developing good habits thus far.
For me, these five items are: (1) Be still; (2) Exercise; (3) Write; (4) Read / Learn; (5) Send a card. Every day. In each case, I have an idea of the time / goal for each, but keeping this simple also allows it to be flexible.
What are your five?
2 | Find a way to keep track of these.
There are many systems out there, both analog and digital. You have to find what works for you. Personally, I prefer something analog (I’ve tried both) because it allows me to better see what I’ve accomplished long after the time has passed.
Here is an astonishingly simple and practical one system I developed this past year. Get a small notebook you can carry with you. Very small. On a single spread, write out your five “dailies” on the lefthand side. Again, keep it simple. You know what “exercise” means for you. Then, across the top, put the numbers 1 through 30 (or 31). This is January. Whenever you accomplish a daily, give it a check. When you don’t, give it a “O.” It will not take long for you to see which areas you struggle with more.
The value of making this so simple and portable is this: It’s hard to miss it. Trust me, I know! I’m good at not recording things. But this system has really helped. It’s so cheap, simple and easy, really – anyone can do it!
3 | Develop accountability.
With this very article, I am just finishing a 28-day writing challenge through an app called SPAR. Best-selling author Jeff Goins started this challenge (his second writing one) and I jumped on board. Using this app, each participant does the work and then checks in daily showing evidence of it. If you miss, you lose $5 (or whatever amount the initiator sets). The pot grows and those who’ve stuck with it at the end get to split it.
Loss aversion. And not just loss of $$s, but loss of face/confidence. Oh my – it works brilliantly!
Unfortunately, right now SPAR is only available on iOS. But I imagine there is an Android version in the works. And this can be for any type of daily reportable challenge over any set time period. It can be for exercise, reading books, writing, recording calories, eliminating sugar, doing art, spending time with your spouse or kids, whatever. You just have to be able to show how you do it through a 20-second video daily.
Even though I’ve had an on-again off-again writing habit these last several years, this time using SPAR has been powerful. I am convinced I can write every day in 2019 – and beyond. This app has given me renewed confidence I can!
As a result of this challenge, I have written 24,633 words I might not have even written! And I am now 85% of the way through the draft of my second book! The SPAR challenge got me close – and I intend to finish up these last few days of 2018.
And, an added bonus of SPAR: The community developed around this challenge has been a hoot as well! A lot of fun!
4 | Be kind to yourself.
You are human. You miss sometimes. You fail. You don’t always carry through what you started. I get that. But taking this approach I’ve just outlined means you have a better chance.
And, you know what? If you do fall off that bandwagon, the key is to simply hop right back on! There are a number of people in our SPAR challenge who did, but only two out of 53 actually jumped off for good. The others all stuck in there even when they fell off a time or two. They have the reward of making it all the way through.
5 | Habits are where it’s at.
So, am I telling you to make New Year’s Resolutions? Absolutely not! Instead, develop habits. Be reasonable. Know your life and what you can handle, then push just a bit outside that limit.
And how, indeed, is this a cross-cultural or even intercultural idea? (That’s my schtick and passion, you know!)
Well, the reason why I believe what I am writing here applies to people and situations across cultures is because, in the end, when we are better – even just .001% better each day – guess what? We make the people around us – our immediate world – better.
And, even more, the spillover effect leads to improvement on a massive level, if people choose to do this kind of thing. This improves our world. And yes, that’s global, cross and intercultural, and can have an incredible effect on the healthy functioning of our planet.
Finally, is this all about human effort?
I do not think so. My take is you first have to have yourself focused on the right place. For me, personally, this is on a God who breathes life into me and makes me able and capable to accomplish meaningful things. Without that, what I do will be hollow. So I start there.
It may be different for you. But make sure you’re not just relying on your own will and strength. That only goes so far. You need to draw from something higher, whatever that may be.
I’d love to dialogue with you about this more. Be in touch via the comments or through contact here.
(Shout out to both Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business, and James Clear, author of the new book, Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, for some of their remarkable influence.)
Image credit (main): Stencil
Copyright 2018 © Your Global Family. All rights reserved.