I crashed and burned with more than a few of my goals in 2018. It showed me I need a new method for implementing goals and resolutions for 2019.
I’m moving away from year-long or even month-long goals or resolutions in favor of daily or weekly habits.
An Embarrassing Example
I read a lot. But I haven’t been great at reading books. So in 2018 I had a goal to read 12 books, just one per month. I literally only read three complete books. I’m embarrassed to admit this. Leaders are readers. And many of my friends are voracious book readers who post their long reading lists on Facebook at the end of each year.
In my defense: I do read a lot, but differently. My reading is usually driven by a quest to learn something specific: when I have a question about something I will read for hours to research and form an understanding of the topic. But I see the habit of reading books as an important form of reading. Books surprise me with insights I didn’t expect, which seems important and mind-opening. Yet for some reason I’ve had a hard time reading books lately.
There are a few reasons for this struggle but I think the main thing is that I simply don’t have a good habit of reading books.
I also had a goal of visiting and updating our family budget once per week. It worked for about 60 days last year and then I fell behind and ended up mostly shotgunning my way through the rest of the year.
I need stronger habits.
There are no changed lives outside of changed habits.Justin Whitmel Earley
So this year I’m changing my method. Instead of saying “12 books per year,” I’m saying “60 minutes per week” (roughly 10 minutes per day).
I’m changing from “update budget once per week” to “at least four times per week” with a daily reminder set to do that right after supper.
This does a few things:
- Gives me a micro-step that I can take each day
- Makes the larger goal feel possible
- Prevents me from getting discouraged if I fall of the bandwagon for a while
- Whets my appetite with a small bite which will probably lead to longer time spent on the task
- Builds a habit
Part of the problem with a longer-term goal is that when we know we won’t reach it, it’s discouraging. With a shorter time base of a daily/weekly habit, it’s easy to get back on track if I skip a few days or weeks.
Habits > Resolutions
I’m using an app called Done to track my time spent reading, budgeting, and other daily/weekly habits that I want to continue working on in my life.
It’s an experiment, but I started trying it already for about three weeks in December and I like the way it’s heading.
Here’s to better habits and better leadership.
Dona Pearce says
Good blog, Ethan. I’m with you on reading. My goal was also 12 books for the year, and I read eight. I’ve changed my resolution to “read each night before bed.” Smaller resolution and more doable!
Ethan Anderson says
I think that’s a great way to do it, Dona!