New Year's Eve. Time to think about the past year… and the year to come. I have in the past avoided making New Year's Resolutions, mostly because I disliked the cliché. But I've come to realize there is more to it, and setting goals is the only thing that will allow my admitted tenacity to try new things at bay long enough to not derail my other priorities. So, let's unpack this a bit, shall we?
The New Year's Resolutions Aren't Our Problem
The reality is that New Year's Resolutions aren't something people hate because of what they are… it's what they represent to them: FAILURE. So what happens is two things:
- We give up on New Year's Resolutions completely. You can't fail if you don't try, right?
- We make our New Year's Resolutions so benign as to not have any value. Everyone can resolve to breathe oxygen in the coming year. And if you fail that resolution, that's not exactly the biggest problem is it?
The problem isn't our New Year's Resolutions. It's our Expectations.
That's right- as much as it is easy to blame other things, it really comes down to our perceptions and what we felt was important in a moment. We committed to them in the wrong moment, caught up in not thinking it through (possibly even while hungover)… then get upset when we don't do it.
What we have to realize is that ultimately we have two choices when it comes to goal setting of any kind- and it comes down to who has the power.
Choice One: Be a Victim
Oh, we hate this word don't we? But think about it. What do you hear most often for people why they don't complete their New Year's Resolutions?
It was too hard.
I just didn't feel like it any more.
I was going to fail anyway. I'm not really sure why I even tried.
Sound familiar? Way to give the power away there, fair reader. But the ones I only recently realized was me being the victim is what I say ALL. THE. TIME…
I just got too busy with other things.
Things happened this year that derailed my progress.
My luck ran out.
The summary of victim thinking is simply that you aren't in control of your circumstances. You may even think you are not living in this mentality until you are blindsided with it. You'll notice one thread above that I believe is the marker for the victim mentality: EXCUSES.
When we make excuses why we don't meet our New Year's Resolutions we are in a Victim mentality.
Choice Two: Be a Victor
First off- let me say that a Victor is not someone who has defeated another in all cases. At least that isn't where the focus should be. I'm not a fan of participation trophies, but what I am a fan of is people rewarding themselves for overcoming their excuses and exceeding their expectations. They have overcome what is holding them back.
A Victor is someone who has defeated not others, but their own doubts.
How do you tell a Victor in this case? Well, what do you hear Victors say about met New Year's Resolutions?
It was tough, but I got in the habit of making the choice every day.
I had a plan and I stuck to it.
My wife (or husband) was really supportive. I couldn't have done it without them.
I did it! You should totally do it too!
Notice anything in the patterns there? Hopefully you noticed three things. One, personal responsibility. Two, humility and thankfulness. Three, a drive to encourage others.
So the problem really becomes not what is in front of us but our attitude towards it. In other words, the problem isn't our goal. It is our attitude towards our goal.
January Really is the Best Time for New Year's Resolutions
Another cliché is “shouldn't you be setting resolutions year round, not just on New Year's Day?” And the answer is yes. However- I think there's another key that makes this time frame the BEST to be thinking about setting new goals for your personal improvement.
January is when you will get the most ideas and support for new goal setting.
Think about it: When are people most in the mindset of making positive change? Starting around December 28th or so, ending sometime around January 15th or so. During this timeframe you'll have more opportunity to connect with others, get ideas and possibly the most important- get encouragement. So don't waste it! This really IS the best time to set goals. And it is okay if you don't start right on January 1st. In fact- given what you're about to read below, you'll find that I'm recommending getting resources and mindset first- then set your goals!
Realistic Goal Setting
I have some notes on this that will take me far beyond what I intend for this post. I will be sharing those later in the year. For now, I wanted to give you some of my recommendations and even some further reading and listening to get you started. For me- I've set up 2018 to be HUGE. I went so far as to move to Franklin, TN to be closer to key influencers and a community of platform builders… but maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's what I'm focused on for 2018 and I'm sure I'll edit in the future to make even better!
Set Realistic Goals that are FUN
In his book “Finish” my fellow Franklin-ite Jon Acuff points out something extremely important. We don't finish our goals because they aren't fun. [You can buy the Audio book, narrated by Jon with additional commentary at http://amzn.to/2DFWCCy or opt for other formats there on Amazon]. Now don't confuse this with making a goal to have fun. That shouldn't be a goal- that should be non-negotiable at some point in your next year.
I would echo this that you need to find a balance between fun and productive… but it also needs to be realistic. Setting a goal of climbing 30 Fourteeners (mountains taller than 14,000 feet) sounds fun- but if you have never done any climbing you may find very quickly that this goal is going to be pretty implausible. Climbing five this year would be both realistic and fun. If you climbed five last year, set this year's to ten… and so on.
Another example that hits home for me is doing things like writing books. I have to admit- when the process becomes less fun I check out. For example, I wrote 50,000 words in November. It is the end of December now. Would you like to know how many I wrote this month? Zero. Because I was so burned out on the process it was not fun for me any more. The game stopped and so did I. So- I have to be mindful of that and connect with ways to make it fun. That means connecting with those that would like the book in their hands and letting them generate excitement in me. It means making a new game- committing to finishing the writing by XX time. Committing to editing by XX… but instead of cold hard deadlines, rewarding myself with what matters to me. In this case, the things I can't just buy myself- things like praise and external excitement about the project.
Make a Plan
I'm all Franklin so far. About a mile from where I live is another brilliant leader named Michael Hyatt is launching a book January 2nd 2018 that I think will be transformative for me. It's called Your Best Year Ever: A 5 Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals. The timing of the book was what inspired this post, actually. I'm looking forward to this one, because Michael has a way of inspiring and encouraging that I've really loved over the past few years. If you order before January 5th, 2018 there are some additional benefits for you. More at https://yourbestyeareverbook.com/ .
My plan is to go beyond just the endless notes and wall-size post-it notes and get a real step-by-step plan.
Connect with Others
Franklin is a more magical place than Tahiti for influencers, it seems. So I have another one for you: Jeff Goins. Jeff's primary audience is writers, but when I attended the Tribe Conference in 2017 I found so much more and I'd highly recommend joining me. I'll be there! I'm also reading “The Art of Work” this month on Audible…
Connecting with people is front of mind for me this year. For me, it will first be in my primary area of influence which is the technology world. It seems like it would be easy but it isn't; people in the tech world don't reach out past Google very often so it will be a challenge for me to create a tribe. But by golly I'm going to do it. Not try, do it.
My primary inspirations for this are two people I follow. San Diego's Pat Flynn and Kentucky's own Podcast Answer Man, Cliff Ravenscraft. These guys have set the bar for me in terms of the quote right on Pat's homepage: “Your earnings are a byproduct of how well you serve your audience.”
I have gotten so much from several communities over the years. “Serve my Tribe” will be a theme for my goals this next year. More than just giving back, I want to serve in ways that are meaningful enough to merit my focus. I have been trying to ‘give back' for the last few years and find it is hard to make a priority of it. I get caught up in contracts and work which are great for generating income but not for serving a wider audience. This year I will be focused on finding ways to bridge the gap and make it so that there are products and services I offer that allow me to not have my focus stolen away from taking contracts or work unless I want to. It is an odd adjustment but I'm excited to jump into it!
We aren't done in the Nashville area. Bryan Harris is who I refer to as the Platform Butt-Kicker. His no-nonsense approach to getting things done is great, but what I'm learning from Bryan lately is that you need a consistent system to make a difference. You can find him at https://videofruit.com/
The big things I'll be leaning on Bryan for this year is growing an email list and being consistent with it. In fact this blog post will be the first to go out to an email list I recently started. It is exciting and scary at the same time, but I'm trusting in Bryan's guidance for results when I stay consistent.
Here's your Leave It Better summary:
- Be a Victor, not a victim in your goal setting.
- January really is a great time to set goals because there is so much support.
- Engage in realistic goal setting.
Let me know how you do! I'd love to hear from you. How can I encourage you or equip you in the coming year?