It’s once again that time of the year. This is the time of the year where everyone sets audacious goals by way of New Year’s Resolution to be achieved throughout the year. It’s like we all have a clean slate to start afresh and boy!!! are we ready to use it.
Resolutions are based on making positive changes in our lives or taking bold steps to make our lives better. Key amongst personal resolutions are the desire to make more money, build better relationships, adopt a healthy lifestyle etc.
I recently took a critical look at my New Year’s resolutions over the past 5 years and it appears with each passing year, I want the same things.
- Make more Money
- Be good at my job
- 6 – pack abs
- Build better relationships
- Travel more etc.
Yet, I have performed quite averagely on the above-listed resolutions, which suggest I have been pretty lousy at sticking to my resolutions. Because 5 years is long enough to have made significant progress in achieving these things or better still be on a promising path to achieving them.
A Forbes article I read recently, states only 8% of the people who make New Year Resolutions succeed in achieving their goals. I know I’m part of the 92%.Why do resolutions fail? Why don’t we stick to our goals, hope and dreams since clearly, they are the things we want and desire. And it appears I’m not the only one at my wits end given the number of articles on the internet that teaches us how to stick to our goals.
Questioning Our Motivations
Throughout the resolution writing process, we hardly question our motivation. For the past 5 years, writing resolutions in my case had to do with wishful thinking and ideal situations. I never sat down to ask myself the tough question of why I wanted what I had written and what I’m going to do to achieve them.
Is it because that was what others wished for me?
or because having the things I claim I wanted will make me more attractive and accepted?
Or perhaps that’s what society expects from me?
We set off working on our goals without answering the underlying “why” we want the things we claim we want knowing fully well that our desires will not be handed to us on a silver platter. Every goal requires hard work, intense focus and a strategic plan of how it is to be achieved before it can become successful. Example, Living a healthy lifestyle requires a consistent work-out regimen and proper dieting.
Over the past few years, I’ve tried my hands on quite a number of avenues ostensibly to make headway in the “make more money” department of my resolutions. In this quest, I’ve tried the following.
Day Trading (Foreign exchange): Because I learnt I could become an expert trader in weeks and be reeling in cash if I learnt the tools and tricks of foreign exchange trade.
Bitcoin stuff: Because Its crypto and it was the hot stuff 2 years ago.
Learning how to code: Read an article which said people who know how to code will snap up all the good, well-paying jobs in the future so I plunged into coding. Besides the article mentioned software engineers and web developers get paid tens if not hundreds of thousands a year to build cool tech tools and applications.
Project Management: Read an article that mentioned project management expertise could be leveraged to other avenues and industries. Professional project management experience could get you a job from computer programming to Real Estate, to services sector. I was sold.
Here I am 5 years later, not much of a Forex Trader, (I do not recall the last time I opened the trading software). Not much of a crypto enthusiast either. I actually haven’t followed developments in the crypto space for quite some time now. I don’t know how to code although I appreciate good computer programs and apps and I’m thankful for coders and developers who create computer programs.
And I do not remember a thing about the online course I took in project management 2 years ago. I don’t even recall mentioning the word “Project Management” in a conversation the whole of 2018.
These weren’t things I was truly interested in. I never questioned the motivation; the big WHY I wanted to get into those things. Sure! I wanted to make income but it goes deeper than that. In my misguided quest to make money, I got caught into any fad that came my way, no plan, no strategy, nothing!!!
Yet with writing, I’ve stuck to it. I have written anytime I’ve gotten the opportunity. I have written articles, blog posts, eBook etc. Funny enough that is what has actually made me an income but no!, I’ll rather invest my time into the latest fib that will magically transform me into a millionaire. A perfect illustration of a resolution gone awry because I wasn’t questioning my motivations.
Deep Work as A Driver for Resolution Achievement
Resolutions are based on positive change and positive change is hard, it requires strategy, intense focus and rigorous analytics to know whether we’re making headway in reaching a goal. What most of us lack is focus and intensity, the type of intensity that requires sustained interest over a long period of time.
I was blown away by the impressive insights on the benefits of intense focus when I read the book “Deep Work” by Cal Newport over the holidays where he provides copious examples of many outstanding people in their fields who had to apply intense focus and diligence within their chosen practice to make the breakthrough that has made them the people they are today.
Whether it was Bill Gates writing the first code for Microsoft or Carl Jung hidden away working on his psychological theories, there were long stretches of deep work that yielded to the impact they have on the world today.
After reading the book, I’m really sold on the concept of deep work and have become an advocate and an ambassador. Firstly, by applying the principles of the book to myself through intense focus on my writing and career as well as other goals I’ve set that requires deep work. Secondly by sharing the principles of deep work with people that are close to me.
For New Year Resolutions to work, I posit that it requires the same level of sustained effort, focus and concentration that can be equaled to building a multi-billion-dollar business. People do not equate new year’s resolutions to an audacious goal such as starting and running a billion-dollar company yet it takes the same energy and effort. Reading about Deep Work has forced me to have honest conversations with myself about Resolutions and what they mean to me.
I’m I ready to apply the concept of deep work to that goal? If not then I need to revisit it again.
There are no shortcuts
Career Coach and Blogger Penelope Trunk in one of my favourite post on her blog wrote about How to Get a Passive Income Something I’ve been chasing for years now (refer to plunging into 5 different money-making avenues with no plan). Who wouldn’t like money flowing into their account whiles they chill and go about their day?
First off, she noted that she blogged for 8 Years. 8 friggin years. In other words, build expertise for 8 years. A lot of people (myself included) do not have that time to invest in building a passive income stream. Seriously, who has time for that? Yet I believe her, because it will probably take that long.
Perhaps there is the likelihood you’ve worked assiduously over the past year in achieving your New Year Resolutions doing everything right but will not see any significant progress because the big goals that require sustained focus takes longer than a year to materialize. And in building a passive income we’re talking about an 8-year skill building term per Penelope Trunk’s suggestion.
In the Book Deep Work, Cal Newport also writes about the dangers of Social Media, He suggests we quit it if we want to do deep work that is worthy of admiration. Social Media has its Pros and Cons. A con that has been a vice to many particularly with regard to achieving our resolutions is the constant search for a shortcut to reaching our goals. This has become prevalent in the world of Social Media championed by digital marketers. It appears there is a quick digital fix for every goal.
|Challenge||Social Media Fix|
|To Lose Weight||herbal tea|
|To Get in shape||waist Trainer|
|To Increase customers for business||Result to growth specialist, growth hacking, growth engineering or what other fancy term there is on social media.|
|To get people to visit your website/watch you content||Result to unproven digital marketing gimmicks that will most likely not work. Or better still buy followers, likes, views, subscribers.|
Go to Infotainment company Buzzfeed’s YouTube channel and you can watch videos titled I trained like Superman for 30 days meant for entertainment purposes yet most of us have taken this quite literally and is seen as the norm. A lot of us are watching these videos genuinely believe that’s how life goes and we can have 6 pack abs, broad chest and a chiseled torso in 30 days with minimal effort.
The people championing the hack have discovered something we haven’t. We want to be Rock Stars without working for it and they are ready to exploit it by taking our time and money. Before we can establish a surefire and effective shortcut for a process, we have to be deeply knowledgeable in that field to establish that shortcut. Trying to go for the hacks as a novice does not work because the nuances and the subtext of whatever we’re doing has not become clear to us. Which is quite ironical, because to make our jobs easier we have to do the hard job first.
The Hard Work is the Achievement
The book Mindset written by Carol Dweck, champions the Growth Mindset and how it is an effective way to develop our skills, talents and passions. Enjoying the learning process and opening our minds to the fact that our goals are a labour of love which requires constant work and input is the best way to reach our destination. In Mindset, Dr. Dweck cites examples in Business, Sports and relationships of subjects who adopted the growth mindset and eventually became a success.
Written works by Seth Godin, James Altucher, Penelope Trunk etc have stated, our early work will not receive the applause we’re looking therefore its likely I will not be getting compliments on my abs after the third week of hitting a gym. Or most likely you’re not getting that million-dollar contract in the first year of being in business. But if we keep to our plan and do the tough work that leads us to our goals deeply and consistently, we will build expertise so valuable all the hard work will not be in vain.
Measuring Progress and Accountability
I’m genuinely frustrated at my resolutions and how I have been abysmal in achieving them. In thinking out aloud maybe I should see all my resolutions as a continuum over a long stretch of time which is basically a personal quest to move from novice to a skilled expert?
In doing so how about measuring the deep work I’m applying to these goals and effectively monitoring the short-term results?
Also, a growth mindset approach to resolutions will be of extreme benefit to enjoy the journey to reaching these goals as a time frame for growth and not something I have to suffer through.
How’re about weekly, monthly and quarterly frames to truly measure my goal and where I am on reaching them?
I also need to train myself to constantly ignore the shiny hacks and shortcuts that are used to bait me by marketers on social media.
Achieving resolutions may seem far off and a long shot but I like to think that I’m better prepared this year.
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