New Year’s Resolution: Doing more – or doing different?

Posted on: January 4, 2010

It’s that time again when we face a New Year with lots of good intentions and resolve that we will achieve those things that we have been meaning to get round to for so long. Work changing, life changing, health changing resolutions…

But we often inadvertently commit ourselves to failure because we forget one fundamental problem: We are already so busy that adding further activities is unlikely to bring us success unless we let go of some of the unimportant things that clutter up our lives. So don’t just think about doing more – think about doing things differently…

For example, if you plan to go to the gym regularly, think about what you will have to give up in order to make time for those visits. Hopefully, you will decide to forego some rubbish television and not quality time with your family. If you plan to diet, think about how you need to shop differently and how your fridge and cupboards will need to look in future – and also at the social habits of your family and friends. In between meetings, rather than skulk in the coffee shop with a caramel latte, go for a 20 minute power walk.

If, like me, you plan to learn more stuff (and we should all be learning all the time anyway) – what will you no longer do to make space for study? Exchange half an hour of mindless daily chit-chat on Facebook for 30 minutes of on-line learning? Agree to only read the newspapers three times a week rather than every day (you can use RSS feeds or Twitter to keep you up to date with the headlines instead).

On the other hand, if you have got into the habit of allowing the weekends to become lost in a blur of catch up work – commit to only spending three hours on a Saturday or Sunday morning with priority work stuff and get into the office earlier on a Monday instead. Then be ruthless in planning how better to use that weekend time (on an outing with the family, in pursuit of a new hobby or at the gym).

And if you have promised yourself that you will spend more time getting close to existing clients or making the necessary follow up calls to those new contacts, then remember that something’s got to give to free up the time. Look at your daily schedule and see what can be delegated, done without for now or deleted.

The other reason we may not make progress with those New Year’s resolutions that keep appearing on the list is procrastination. Allocate an hour to exploring WHY these important activities never quite get to the top of the list…. other things are more comfortable or fun, you don’t know where to start, you are afraid of failure, you are a perfectionist, it’s an overwhelming task or the rewards aren’t motivating enough? Then find a way to get over it – for example: create your own rewards, ask someone else to check on you, think about unpleasant results of NOT doing it, calculate the cost of time to do it – and cost of not doing it, break the project into smaller “bite sized” pieces or start with some small, quick tasks.

And remember that it takes 21 days to break an old habit – or start a new one. So be kind to yourself!

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