We just celebrated a transition into the new year. After a critical assessment of our lives in 2022, we — most likely — concluded that we didn’t do enough. Excited, we start a new chapter in our lives with some New Year resolutions, confident that we can do better than the previous year.
Perhaps you set some goals. They all have metrics and timelines like good goals should, within which you plan to execute them. The metrics are supposed to help you keep track of progress and signal to push yourself harder if the planned progress doesn’t happen. Different apps and tools will help you stay organized. Along the way, you plan to share your progress on social media. Here you are again — running a marathon, just like before, instead of living.
When making resolutions for the new year, consider that you’re most likely making them right after or during a holiday, and be realistic.
Setting goals is fine, but it can be harmful if you have too many. When making resolutions for the new year, consider that you’re most likely making them right after or during a holiday, and be realistic. Will you have as much free time in September?
Let’s predict how too ambitious a plan will go. You make a great high-performance plan with different measurable goals, and you start to execute it with enthusiasm. Soon enough, however, something goes awry. Maybe you overestimated your capabilities or resources. Your plan doesn’t work. As a result, you are disappointed with your performance and try to push yourself harder until exhaustion. Would it be great if you could avoid this self-destructive loop this year?
Here are a few tips on how not to end up in this loop
You lack focus if you have too many things you want to accomplish in the new year. The worst thing about it is that when we do many things, we do nothing fully. If you do a little bit of everything — work, sports, hobbies, etc. — you are skipping the possibility of developing your experience and knowledge in some area deeply.
Learn to say “no” not only to other people but also to yourself.
Do a simple prioritization exercise. List all the things that could be priorities for you. For each of these potential priorities, list three things as short text paragraphs: What is this thing? Why is this thing important to me? Why is this thing necessary for the big picture? Choose the top priorities you will execute; the rest only if you have time and energy. (A more extended version of the exercise was developed by Lauri Jarvilehto). Learn to say “no” not only to other people but also to yourself when you are willing to jump into a new project without having time to do that. The ability to measure one’s resources correctly is an important skill.
Approach a goal-setting process like you would furnishing an apartment
Imagine you just moved to a new bigger apartment. You picked some of your favorite furniture to bring with you, and the rest you recycled. Now your home is half empty. However, instead of finishing it right away, live in it for a while to see what is actually missing and what should be added. If you rush too much, you risk furnishing it with useless things. The same goes for goals; don’t commit to too many of them immediately after a holiday. Give yourself time to live with what you’ve brought over from 2022. Start the year at a slow pace and accelerate if you feel you can.
Use a 12-week planning period instead of a calendar year
This planning principle is described in the book The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington. The shorter the planning span, the more realistic we are in assessing our time and resources. A calendar year is too long to process in our minds realistically. Thus, we are doomed to make planning mistakes. If you plan for the next 12 weeks, you have much better chances to execute your plan.
Time management, well-being, self-leadership, inner balance, and core values are just a few topics we study in the Good Life Engine course. Keep an eye out for our open events, or join the course next fall!