Let me ask you this? Did they work last year?
I'm a huge fan of doing things that work, and eliminating anything that doesn't work. So if you're working on your new list, are you doing it because it works, or simply because it's the thing you do when the new year rolls around?
Let me ask you another few questions – and be honest. And trust me, there's no judgement from me.
Are you fat? I am. I'm big. Large. Other ways to say it. But I'm a big boy. And guess what?
I never made a resolution to get fat.
Are you well read? I am. I've read thousands of books. Never less than 50 or 60 a year, and often double that. And guess what?
I never made a resolution to be well read.
Are you generous? I am. I don't need to give you details, but you know where I'm going.
I never made a resolution to be generous.
Resolutions are nice to do lists. And to do lists are fantastic for simple things.
- Go to the market.
- Buy trash bags.
- Bring them home.
- Throw away all resolution lists.
But for complex things, a to do list doesn't work as well.
There are no short cuts
I was asked the other night how I developed my expertise (we were talking about business models) at such a young age. I had to first explain I was 42 (even though some folks think I'm as much as 10 years younger than that). Then I had to explain that I had run several startups and worked 12-16 hour days for years. When you add it all up, I've accumulated a lot of experience (read: made tons of mistakes) in all that time of work.
But if I look at my reading habits, it's been the same. Daily discipline to a) carry a book with me everywhere I go, b) read at least 15 minutes a day, and c) take multiple with me a few times a year when I vacation.
When I look at my generosity habit, it's been the same.
And you know it's the same when it comes to eating fast food. No one creates a resolution to eat too much of it. Or to eat too late at night. But you make a choice – to eat on the run, to not waste time preparing food – and over time, it has a result.
Strategy + Habits = Destination
If you think about where you are today, it's because your habits took you to the logical destination you were headed. You didn't go to the gym every day last year only to wake up fat. And I didn't eat fast food all the time only to wake up slim. Our habits drive us towards a destination.
So instead of making New Year's resolutions, ask yourself what direction you want to head in, and then create some habits to support it. You'll be surprised by how far you get – maybe not in one year, but over several. After all, there are no short cuts.
Mine for this year include:
- Going to bed before midnight
- Spending daily time outside
- Writing a blog post daily
- Reading daily
I don't know where I'll end up, but I know each one will be in the direction I want to go, and the habits are easy to define. In fact, they're great for using a checklist for.
What are some of the habits you're trying to develop this year?