I spent the majority of my childhood in a gym playing basketball. I loved it. It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do.
I would dread January 1st each year, as my beloved sanctuary transformed into a mob of Resolution’ers doing their best Along Came Polly impressions. Raindance! Luckily, that group would start to thin out in late-January. All was back to normal by Valentines Day.
For most people, resolutions don’t last. Here’s my advice on making them sticky:
How to Measure and Identify Resolutions (Problems).
Setting concrete goals is always a popular resolution route. Goals certainly feel more actionable than broad statements like “I’m going to learn to code.”
Let’s take “I’m going to weigh <fill in weight> pounds in 2014!” as an example.
Goals like this do two things. First, they make you feel inadequate until you reach them. That’s no way to live. Second, if you do reach them… then what? You either set a new, lower goal, or fight and claw to stay at that “perfect” weight. Again, no way to live.
The key with resolutions, as with startups, is choosing the right problem to solve. Then, identify the metrics/inputs you’ll need to track/improve to solve the problem. A specific weight is a vanity metric unless you’re a boxer. It’s like a startup where the goal is 200,000 users. Ok… what will that get you?
Understand the problem you’re solving. Do you want to lose weight to be healthier and have more energy? Look better in a swimsuit? Attract the opposite sex? Throw the Five Whys at your resolution to get to the underlying problem, then determine the trackable inputs that’ll solve it.
How I Track Things.
I started tracking my diet about a year ago. I’d noticed I felt healthier, was more productive, and slept better when I ate well. I hated putting detailed food info into nutrition apps, and I have no interest in calorie counting - more vanity metrics. I made my own simple input system in excel.
For each meal, I’d record a score of 0.0, 0.5, or 1.0, depending on whether my meal was unhealthy, moderate, or healthy. I color coded these to make them more visual. Sometimes I’d write exactly what I ate, sometimes I’d just write “crap.” The only important thing was the color/number. About 4 months in, I started tracking exercise as well.
I set weekly and monthly goals, and my habits changed drastically. I eat far, far better now than I did back then. I take pride in my green 1’s, and try to limit or eliminate my all red days.
Here’s my September:
When I set goals, I try to make them trackable on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis using the system above. If I can’t, they won’t happen.
On To The Resolutions:
1) Control My Days.
Problem: I procrastinate and waste time.
Solution: On Sunday of each week, I’ll pick the two most important, pressing things I need to get done the following week. I’ll section off time throughout the week to make sure they get done. Nothing interrupts that time, nothing is more important.
Tracking: I’ll list these in excel on a weekly basis. They’ll get scored just like diet / exercise. This isn’t saying that every task can be done in a week - those that aren’t will be broken down - just that my most important tasks need to dictate my workflow.
2) Control My Decisions.
Problem: I don’t make decisions as quickly as I should.
Solution: Identify the two most important decisions I need to make each week - the ones that keep me up at night and distract my mind,
Tracking: List them in excel, and make a decision on them by the end of the week. Delete them after the decision is made. Deal with the decisions after they’re made. If I make the wrong decision, fine, I’ll deal with the ramifications sooner rather than later.
3) Make Something Every Time I’m Bored.
Problem: The creative bone atrophies when it isn’t used, but gets exponentially better when it is. When I’m bored, I have a tendency to give into the boredom and watch things like White Collar.
Solution: When I’m bored, I’ll make something instead. This could mean writing a blog or a skit for SNL (still my dream job), outlining a newsletter for FYL, sending a funny email to my friends or calling my mom (“making” her happy). I hate being bored, but I let it happen anyway. Building a trigger to combat it should help.
Tracking: Every time I give into the boredom, I’ll note it in Excel. Every time I avoid the boredom, whatever I make will be better than a green 1 anyway, so no need to track it.
I’ll see how these go. They’re all easy to implement and should have a positive impact on my life.