You CAN Reach Your New Year's Goals
These Are The Two Secrets To Make A Change In Your Life That Lasts
I get SUPER EXCITED when I hear that someone has made a New Year's Resolution!
Because you can't change unless you want to change. And a New Year's Resolution is a moment of crystallization, when you admit your desire to yourself.
"I DO want to learn a new skill!" or "I DO want to be in better shape!" or "I DO want to spend more time with my family" all are a way for your soul to shout and conscious mind to recognize that you want to and are ready to be a bit more of the you that you WANT to be!
And so you make a New Year's Resolution. Which is great!
But when January 2nd rolls around, and that moment of clarity can start to fade. In fact, by January 31st, most of us have given up on or even forgot our best intentions.
It doesn't have to be that way! In fact, you just need to do TWO SIMPLE THINGS to MAKE RESOLUTIONS THAT ACTUALLY STICK! If you read this blog and do this exercise, you will internalize these two vital and powerful which most people miss, and you CAN and you WILL reach your goals!
And I'm not just saying this. I know what I'm talking about!
You see, I'm not a particularly disciplined person, but over the past years I've been obsessed about how I can achieve my own best, and how I can help others achieve their best. And it turns out, this crazy habit stuff works!
In my own life in just the past year, I've not only set a better example for my kids, especially in an improved temper, but I've been a part of teaching 3,000 people to play guitar with the most incredible Guitar School team on the planet. And on the more personal side, I've been able to write over 40 articles, exercise over 300 times (including running a sub 6:00 mile as a 51 year old!), read 57 books, study another language, and not eat after 9:30pm for 362 of the past 365 days.
Trust me, if a guitar strumming daydreamer like me can do it, so can you! The secret is to focus less on the outcome, and more on how to reach the outcome, and then to support that process in a way that takes willpower out of the equation.
Whether you want to learn something new, lose weight, exercise more, read more, save money or spend more time with your family, you CAN make the change you desire, by internalizing and acting on two essential strategies:
1. Turn your goal into a process, probably based on someone else's successful process.
2. Support that process with a structure that replaces willpower with howpower.
Turn Your Goal Into A PROCESS.
The problem with a goal like "lose 10 pounds" or "read more books" or "learn to play guitar" is that those outcomes only come after you literally change who you are:
- To lose 10 pounds, you must become a person who exercises or eats healthy.
- To read more books, you must become a reader.
- To learn to play guitar, you must become a guitar player.
Too often we focus on an outcome like reaching some number or finish line instead of the personal transformation those results must come from!
To make lasting change, worry less about the outcome and more about what to do and who to be on a regular basis to get to that outcome.
What you do is who you are!
And I have great news. There is an incredibly powerful aid for you: the example of another person who was in the same situation.
No matter what your goal, dream or struggle, one of your fellow humans has already learned it / done it / quit it / started it / finished it. That's awesome, because that means you can benefit from them. (I've read enough biographies to know that they also followed someone else's example!). The best way to accomplish almost any goal is simple: adopt someone else's definite process and adapt it to your own life.
- Instead of "Learn Spanish" - "practice Spanish with the Learning Spanish Like Crazy audio program every morning while walking to work."
- Instead of "Learn Guitar" - "complete four 10 week guitar week classes at NYC Guitar School...or "take Rock Band and perform on stage."
- Instead of "Lose Weight" - "lose 10 lbs by cutting out added sugar, starting with drinking seltzer or water instead of any drink with added sugar.
- Instead of "Start Running" - "go to sleep each weeknight in my running clothes with my sneakers next to the bed...roll out of bed, put my sneakers on and run at least around the block, and celebrate my progress by running the Sunday, March 8 5k Spring Fling run in Central Park, plus 3 more 5k runs this year that I will sign up for...today!
Not sure how to get started? Go to your friend google and type in "how I X" or "testimonial X" or "example of X". You'll soon be inspired and you'll have lots of ideas!
Now, Replace Willpower With "Howpower" By Creating A STRUCTURE for Success.
Willpower wanes, motivation meanders, and sometimes instead of waking up with the eye of the tiger, you wake up with the eye of the sloth! So, don't rely on willpower. Instead, build a structure for success with a "commitment device."
A "commitment device" is something that makes your decision FOR you when your motivation is high so that you don't have to rely on willpower. For example, if you never bought ice-cream, you don't have to decide at 2am in the morning whether to eat all of both cartons in your freezer. And if you told your friend you'd meet them at the corner of the park for a run at 8am, you are unlikely to skip.
I am constantly looking for commitment devices to make it easier for me to be the person I want to be. Here are a few examples from my own life:
- Want to exercise more? Make a regular running date with a friend. I made a regular 6:15 am running appointment with my friend Alan for a year! After that year I had established an early morning exercise habit and a 6:45 am workout felt like a break! For the past decade, I've also gone to sleep in clean workout clothes. Sometimes in the morning I don't feel like exercising, but it seems like less effort to exercise than to go to all the trouble of changing my clothes! That's right, being sleepy and lazy in the morning helps me exercise!
- Want to play on stage? Sign up to play a show with a friend. I learned to play drums when my friends Navid, Ilknur, Alfredo and I scheduled a show for one year in the future, each of us playing an instrument we didn't already play. Then NYC Guitar School teacher Tia coached us for a year. (This was Alfredo's idea!)
- Want to save more? Set up automatic deductions from your paycheck. I first set up automatic deductions 17 years ago. There have been lots of times since then that I didn't have any spending money in my pocket. But the saving money keeps piling up, safely away from any of my day-to-day desires and emergencies.
- Want to read more? Put a book in your backpack and limits on your phone. Last year I set a goal to read more books, so I put extreme limits on my phone and let my 13 year old daughter set the password. Guess what? With no smartphone, reading is an easy choice. I read or listened to 57 books in 2019. (And as an added bonus, this approach gave me parental cover to put modest limits on her phone!)
You Know What To Do, Now Do It
Wouldn't it be great if there was a step by step process or worksheet to brainstorm your own goals, processes and commitment devices?
Good news! There IS.
I've pasted in a worksheet and a goal sheet below. One of them is for you to brainstorm ideas for your supercharged resolution. And the other is a contract with yourself for when you are ready to commit to the resolution. I've heard from many people that when they tape their commitment up and look at it every day, it helps them stay on track and stay successful.
You'll notice that the worksheets also contain two other important elements I didn't mention above: adding WHYPOWER to your HOWPOWER, and a reminder that we're all human and we all get off track and make mistakes, and we are more successful when we accept and prepare for those inevitable setbacks.
Enjoy and On To Greatness!