“Learn to focus on the task at hand, take it one step at a time, life is too expensive a gadget to be operated on trial and error”- Unknown
With 2012 coming to an end, many people are quick to compose their New Year’s Resolutions and even quicker to justify why they’re going to stick to it this year, unlike the last few years where the new annual gym membership was more or less obsolete.
Before you read on, just note that this isn’t one of those “Yeah, screw New Year’s Resolutions, they don’t work anyway, just live all day like you would your last”. No, I really don’t care for being controversial. I merely just want to divert your attention to a different way of thinking about the new year. Having jumped onto four new learning courses without finishing the one course I’m not even halfway through and starting new projects without abdicating responsibility or minimising my involvement in what I’m currently engrossed in because I’ve relented to opportunism, I feel I would’ve achieved a lot more in 2012 if I were persistent in finishing rather than being so eager to start.
With New Year’s Resolutions, many people just don’t adequately prepare well enough to achieve their goal. It’s all very well having an end goal in mind, but it’s too easy to break your resolutions, become dispirited in the process and feel despondent enough to drop the goal altogether. From a recent university study, over 78% of participants who set New Year’s Resolutions fail to achieve these goals. While these studies may discuss new goals set in the new year, most people have goals they’re already actively pursuing. For example, I’ve started to wake up earlier and run every other day since the 15th of December. Before that, I set a goal to organize my time more efficiently by writing detailed schedules about where my time is currently being spent and comparing it to my Time tracker which highlights where my time should be spent- I started doing this halfway through November. Frankly, I really don’t have the capacity to try and focus on another audacious goal, which would result in a new habit, once this has been broken down into smaller goals (E.g. If I want to learn a new language as my goal, the habit would be that each day I spend 10 minutes on Duolingo doing two lessons a day, and then reviewing these fortnightly).
It’s been documented that the hardest thing to do is to start. This may be true for many people, but sometimes, momentum itself is a bitch. Further down the line in your journey to completing that goal, there’ll be hurdles- in the form of higher priority work, a lack of knowledge and other forms of temptation (such as an awesome e-learning course which you just HAVE TO register for this very minute)- but I feel that in order to have a higher impact and to be more fulfilled with completing goals, requires you to break those goals down into rituals and habits. This allows you to consciously build small habits into your daily life, and to further expand these once they have been fully engrained into your life.
“The best way out is always through.” ― Robert Frost
Waking up at 6am doesn’t just happen overnight after waking up post-10am for the past few months(I blame university life). It starts and continues by consciously working towards waking up just 15-20 minutes earlier each day. If you’re determined to complete a goal, then you have to build on it and think of ways to make something into a habit in order to instigate such behavioural change in the long-term.
Forget new habits, and focus on building what you are already working towards. Don’t get distracted by the customary new year goal-setting resolutions. You already have your goal, so work on those results that you are so eager to achieve.