In just two weeks, many of us will be making resolutions, goals and promises for the year 2012, both personal and business-related. Even those who don’t believe in resolutions will probably have some goals and plans they would like to achieve.
Resolutions are a great thing, in theory – committing to a specific result is the very first step to achieving it. In practice, though, probably about 80% of all New Year’s resolutions are dropped and/or forgotten about – often before the end of January. (There is a reason that January 17th became the Ditch Your New Year’s Resolutions holiday, you know.)
Let’s face it, making a list of resolutions just doesn’t do anything for the majority of us. (If it works for you; if you consistently accomplish everything on your resolutions list – good for you! Stop reading now and go enjoy your holidays, I’ll talk to you in January.)
Still here? Yeah, me too. So how about we try a better way and actually make sure we’re well on our way to achieving these resolutions by January 1st? I know that sounds impossible, but I promise it is actually much easier than you think.
Are you with me? Then read on!
Resolutions and goals, both personal and business-related, fall into two categories. Let’s call them Ladder resolutions and Treadmill resolutions. We will talk about Ladder resolutions on Wednesday. (The name will make sense eventually, I promise.) For now, let’s focus on Treadmill resolutions.
The Treadmill resolution requires a repetitive, regular action, which by itself is fairly easy to execute.
Much like the its namesake, the treadmill, it can be rather dull, and, more importantly, it may feel like you are not getting anywhere, since the first results will only be visible after you have put in many, many hours of the task. (Usually about twice as many as you had initially guessed.)
To achieve the Treadmill resolution, you have to adjust your lifestyle – preferably in a small way, at least initially, to avoid early burnout.
To take a really obvious example, losing weight and/or getting fitter is probably the number one personal New Year’s resolution. Adjusting your lifestyle in this case would involve things like eating healthier and moving more. Those are too vague and generic, though. Small, specific steps – walking for 30 minutes, dancing to a song you love twice a day, eating one less cookie – are the kinds of adjustments I am talking about.
These adjustments have to be 1) fairly easy to achieve (you want to pick a pace that doesn’t leave you too tired to do anything else afterwards) and 2) something you can do every single day. Bonus: making it as enjoyable as possible will make the process a lot easier.
For example, with that lose weight/get fit resolution, if you hate running, it goes without saying that your initial adjustment should not be a daily jog. Do something you enjoy instead, be it dancing, hiking, playing with your kids, or walking an extra mile with your dog .
It should also be doable within 30 minutes. If it’s something that requires more time and/or isn’t really something that you can commit to every day, break it up into smaller chunks that you can do on a daily basis.
Let’s look at an example of a couple of business-related Treadmill resolutions to clarify.
Becoming more active on social media (preferably in a way relevant to your business) is a perfect example of a Treadmill resolution. Anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes a day, regularly scheduled (yes, this is an appointment — keep it) sound like a reasonable adjustment. But what if you know that your audience isn’t around on the weekends, so it doesn’t make much sense for you to show up? Then spend those 15 minutes brainstorming prompts and questions to post next week instead.
Another example is committing to publish two articles or blog posts a week. Clearly, writing one post per day is not the right adjustment here, but breaking it up will give you smaller steps that you can do in 15-30 minutes, every single day.
Day 1: brainstorm and outline both of the posts;
Day 2: write the bulk of one post;
Day 3: edit/refine;
Day 4: add excerpt, tags, format and add images;
Days 5-7: repeat steps 2-4 for the second post.
(This happens to be one of my resolutions, in case you were wondering.)
In all of the examples of Treadmill resolutions, you probably won’t see any visible results until weeks or months later.
That’s why Treadmill resolutions are so tempting to give up on. (Or try to up the pace, see some results, burn out in the process, and give up anyway.)
But here is the great thing about Treadmill resolutions: they are made of adjustments that can become a habit – as in, something you do every single day, without even thinking about it. Like brushing your teeth or getting dressed in the morning. And that is exactly what you want.
Ready for some great news?
Research shows that it takes just two weeks to build a habit. While I am not a huge fan of research, I have tested this one on my own skin, and I can confirm that after two weeks of consciously making an effort to do something every single day, it does become a habit. (See why that “every single day” part was important?)
I bet you figured out where I am going with this: we have exactly two weeks before the New Year.
What if we make one of those resolutions into a habit BEFORE January 1st?
Yes, I know it’s the holidays, I know you have a million things to do, I know it’s very tempting to say “I will definitely try this in January.” I understand completely.
But think about it… making whatever little adjustment you need to make right now, during the holidays, will guarantee that you stick with it in 2012. Because, 1) it will be a habit and 2) if you can do it during the holidays, it’s going to be SO much easier after.
So what do you say? Are you with me?
I’d love to hear your Treadmill resolutions – and what you plan to do with them over the next two weeks. And, because a little accountability goes a long way when building a habit, I’ll be checking in on Twitter daily with the #resolutionrevolution hashtag.
As I mentioned earlier, my commitment is to publish two blog posts per week, and this post is the first step in making it happen. Part 2 of Resolution Revolution is currently in rough draft form and will be posted on Wednesday, December 21st. We will talk about Ladder Resolutions, which are a bit trickier, but there are still ways to get ahead before January 1st. I’ll tell you all about it on Wednesday.
In the meantime, tell me your resolutions in the comments below, or let me know on Twitter or Facebook!