Happy New Year! Are you ready?

Happy New Year! Are you ready?

New Year’s Habits

Everybody has some habits associated with the New Year:

  • Staying up until midnight
  • Cake, drinks, watching a movie, etc
  • Watching the clock and counting down the time
  • Fireworks / cheers / a kiss at the stroke of midnight
  • And so on

But regardless of your New Year’s countdown habits, you likely also have habits related to the days leading up to and just after New Year’s Day:

  • Recovering from a hangover?
  • Cleaning the whole house
  • New Year’s shopping
  • New Year’s Resolutions & planning
  • And so on

For me, when I was younger, the New Year marked a time when I would “rededicate” myself to pursuing my goals. I’d make new goals, new resolutions, and think about the kind of person I wanted to be in the future. But, as I’ve grown older, the New Year has taken on a bit of a different feeling.

For one thing, I no longer feel it’s wise to “wait” until the New Year to start new goals and commitments. The motivation you feel at the New Year may be only slightly greater than the motivation you feel when the spark ignites in your mind for a new lifestyle.

Plus, the biggest problem we all tend to have with New Year’s resolutions is that we just plain make way too many of them at one time, and so overwhelm ourselves within 1-2 months by trying to keep up with all of them. Example:

This year I’m going to…

  1. lose weight
  2. go to the gym every day
  3. save more money
  4. pay off debt
  5. develop a reading habit
  6. meditate more
  7. study Korean every day
  8. and so on

Now, overlooking the fact that these goals are not S.M.A.R.T goals and are way to generalized to do us much measurable good, there are just way too many of them at once – especially if these are things you haven’t yet been doing up to now anyway.

Modify your habits

A much better way to approach goal setting would be to upgrade or modify habits you’ve already been doing, and / or choose ONE major new thing to add into your life at a time. If and when the new habit “sticks,” then you can think about adding in another new habit, but not sooner (this will typically take between 30-60 days at a minimum). Example:

I’m already doing these things, so here’s how I’ll upgrade them…

  1. Going to the gym every morning = increase the number of exercises (from 4 to 6 or 8, from 15-20 minutes to 30-40 minutes), and add in more free-weight days in addition to machine days (maybe half and half)
  2. Writing for and designing a magazine publication = start uploading my writing (about Korea) to this website
  3. “Reading” about a book per week using the Audible app = write a short book review and upload it to one of my sites immediately after finishing the book
  4. And so on

Something new? Well, I have many ideas, but I should really choose ONE to just focus on consistently until it becomes a solid habit.

Options:

  1. Daily calisthenics exercise
  2. Consistent blogging / content creation on KeyToKorean.com
  3. 100 Days of Code (daily coding challenge)
  4. Consistent blogging about coding / design
  5. and so on

While none of the lists above are all-inclusive, they give me a starting point. In particular, this website has not received much attention recently because I’ve been taking on much more work responsibility. But I’d like to see that change for various reasons.

Start With Why

One of the best books I’ve read in the past five years is called Start With Why by Simon Sinek, and while I can’t currently remember detailed specifics from it, I can easily recount the main idea (which is present in the title itself). Start with WHY.

In everything you do, Start with WHY. Ask yourself:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Why do I want to do this?
  • Why is this important?
  • Why THIS particular task and not some other task?
  • and so on

Ask yourself as many WHY questions as you can so that you can clearly nail down your motivations and purpose for choosing or doing a particular thing. A quote by Friedrich Nietzsche has sometimes been paraphrased to say:

He who has a strong enough WHY can bear almost any HOW.

Friedrich Nietzsche

In other words, if you motivation is SOLID enough, you will find the persistence and grit to push through the pain and boredom enough to make progress toward your goals. And this is another point many of us get WRONG about Goal setting.

Our ultimate goal shouldn’t be the attainment of the goal itself, but the progress and growth we experience along the way to attaining that goal.

(Here’s what I wrote last January 1 along the same lines – it also includes a really good system for ending the old year and beginning the new year.)

Goals vs. Systems

In his excellent book Atomic Habits, published last fall, author James Clear discusses the difference between goals and systems (an idea that comes from Scott Adams’ book):

We don’t rise to the level of our goals; we fall to the level of our systems.

James Clear

What’s the difference between Goals and Systems? In a nutshell:

GoalsSystems
– An end result
– A conclusion (what’s next?)
– A long way off
– A means to an end result
– Unending; allows us to “keep playing”
– Immediate, visible, measurable results

Goals are the finish line; but we’ve got a long way to get there. And after that, what’s next? Is there something next, or is that just “the end”?

Systems are immediate, present realities that allow us to take visible, measurable, daily steps toward our end goals. But with good enough systems, your end goal is not an end itself, just a stepping stone along a longer path toward great achievement.

For example, Korean-learning goals vs. systems:

  • Goal:
    • Achieve TOPIK Level 6 by such-and-such date (but I’m currently Level 2… it looks such a long way off, I’m sure to get demotivated somewhere along the way…)
  • System:

Happy New Year! Are you ready?

As a quick recap, here are the things I recommend for getting started with the New Year (and what I’ll also be doing in the next few days):

  1. Rewind and review 2018 (last year)
  2. Consider ALL you hope to do in the next year
  3. Consider WHO you want to become in the future
  4. Focus on upgrading habits you already do well, or even replacing bad habits with good ones that bring the same kind of reward
  5. Hone in on WHY you want to upgrade your habits or create new ones
  6. Choose ONE major thing to focus on for the next Quarter (3 months)
  7. Establish (and write down) a SYSTEM that you can implement on a day-by-day basis to make small, measurable gains toward your goal