Did Your New Years Resolutions Make it Past The Super Bowl?
A full one third of New Years Resolution fall to the wayside before the end of January according to the productivity experts at FranklinCovey. 9 out of 10 don’t make it through the year.
But, the good news is, if you’re going to fail, failing fast is the best possible option.
Think of it as halftime for your resolutions. Kick back, eat a couple of chicken wings and watch Beyonce Hip Synch her way through another stellar performance, then on Monday be ready for a brand new ballgame.
Golfers get a Mulligan, why shouldn’t you?
New Years resolutions are an archaic tradition, anyway. Dating back at least to the ancient Babylonians. But modern life moves way to fast to trick our brains into changing habits for a full year. We need to chew smaller bites.
Monday morning, instead of complaining about how your team let you down, mumbling about your hangover and moping about the 3 and half pounds of of chili, cheese dip and tortilla chips sitting in your colon, renew your resolutions, not for the New Year, but for the new month. If you can spend 28 days living right, you’ll be well on your way to making your new habit a permanent fixture.
Here’s a couple of ways to help your New, New Year’s resolutions make it through February and well on their way to St. Patrick’s Day:
Don’t try to do everything at once:
You’ve spent a lifetime accumulating bad decisions and bad habits, you’re not going to fix everything this week, this month or probably even this year. Pick 2 or 3 things to work on. And then actually work on them!
You’ve only got so much will power to go around. Everyone knows that if you try to lift more weight than you’re capable of, you’ll just end up under the barbell yelling “a little help, here” to anyone in the gym. But we’re perfectly willing to try and stop drinking, lose weight, start going to church every week, donate more to charity and volunteer at the pet shelter all at the same time.
In the immortal words of Dana Carvey/George W. Bush: “Not gonna happen.”
Willpower works like a muscle, too. And if you simultaneously starve the brain and overtax your self control, you’ll just end up surrounded a pile of empty Hagan Dazs cartons and another list of failed resolutions.
Focus. Focus. Focus.
The readers of LifeHacker recently named the Pomodoro Technique as the most effective productivity hack.
I like to call this the Charles Emerson Winchester III rule after the stuffy character on the old MASH sitcom. Winchester was fond of telling anyone who would listen:
“I do one thing at a time. I do it very well. Then I move on.”
The Pomodoro Technique is just the simple strategy of focus all of your attention on one activity for a limited amount of time.. and then moving on.
If your New February resolution is to sell more stuff, then spend one hour cold calling new customers and then move on.
If your plan is to get more organized, then set aside 25 minutes, turn off the phone, turn off the TV, shut down the computer and spend 25 minutes doing nothing but getting organized.
Everyone likes to think that we’re all master multi-taskers, that we can do it all at the same time and nothing will suffer for it. We’re not. Multi-tasking is a urban myth. Give it up and focus.
Don’t Break The Chain
Jerry Seinfeld may best be known as the star of the show about nothing, but he’s rapidly becoming known in productivity circles as the inventor of the simplest, most effective productivity hack you can learn – Don’t Break The Chain.
As a struggling comedian facing writer’s block, Seinfeld would struggle to write every day until he developed this technique, brilliant in its simplicity.
Let’s say your specific February resolution is to walk 45 minutes every day. Here’s what you do:
Print out a calendar.
Buy a Magic Marker.
And every day you walk for 45 minutes, mark the calendar with a Big Red X.
Then see how many days in a row you can mark the calendar. Don’t Break the Chain.
If you can mark the calendar every day in February, you’ll be well on your way to being one of the 10% whose resolutions didn’t fail.