Chapter 10: New Year’s Resolutions, the Compound Effect, and 5 Tips to Follow Through

INTRODUCTION

Happy New Year’s everyone. I hope everyone is healthy, happy, and off to a great start as we begin our journey into 2021. When midnight struck on January 1st I hope that you entered into that moment with the proper mindset. The mindset that 2021, while seemingly different in energy, is technically just an extension of the previous day and year. The dopamine hit and vibe one gets on a day such a New Year’s Eve is wonderful…especially if you can bottle that excitement and use it to propel you to become the version of yourself you imagine that you’ll become in the next year. This is where I think we will begin.

IT’S THE NEW YEAR…PREPARE YOUR FAILED RESOLUTIONS

I hate to be “that guy”, or a Debbie downer…but nobody TRULY cares that it’s a New Year. Some might attend parties, perhaps visit Time Square or some other location in previous years, and of course…all of the television networks will air their version of a New Year’s party to fight for your attention. Once all of that is over you’re now just left with….well…yourself.

You see, the common mistake with New Year’s and resolutions is that they are no different than all of those other failed hobbies you’ve adopted, or unread books you’ve purchased, or motivational talks / podcast you’ve added to your watch list. In the moment it all seems so simple and exciting, until one realizes that actual effort is required in order to achieve that which they wrote down. One simply does not write “I want to get in the best shape of my life” and then within mere moments they manifest a six-pack! I WISH that’s how it worked, but unfortunately, it does not. Once that realization sets in we default back to our current ways of being and habits rooted in comfort and complacency. It seems that all of that which we prepared for mentally on the first, is now a distant memory by the 3rd…I would say the 2nd, but I’d like to give you, well…us, some credit.

THE COMPOUND EFFECT AND THE POWER OF SMALL WINS

If what I described above is you then fret not, for I have a word of encouragement for you. It is in my firm belief that resolutions for the New Year’s a couple of things. I often think they set most people up for failure in their over-ambitiousness. I also tend to believe the idea, in its purest form is fantastic…but the fact that the idea only resonates for that moment is the key flaw. Throughout the year once one fails to make progress on their goals they usually default to “well, it’s not going to happen this year…but I’ll try again next year” mentality. My primary question around that mode of thinking is…WHY!? Everyday is a new opportunity to make good on the promises you’ve made to yourself. This isn’t the SAT’s, or that promotion you wanted at work. Failing to accomplish something for yourself, in the moment, doesn’t mean that you have to wait 30-90 days for another opportunity to try again. You can literally empower yourself to put forth the effort the next day. We need not wait until the first to be resolute, but rather adopt the mentality that 1st incites in us on a daily basis. I believe that level of energy and excitement is what propels the highest achievers in the human race towards infinite levels of greatness.

Let me backtrack here and also touch on the reason that I believe resolutions set us up for failure. I want to clarify that I think it’s important to aim high. You should be very specific in writing down that which you hope to accomplish. I read somewhere that one must be specific in their declaration of that which they want from the universe in order to actually attain it. The problem with doing that for your resolutions is that I believe most people are looking TOO far down the road. Resolutions probably shouldn’t be your 5-year plan. To say, in 2021 I’m going to make a million dollars…when you currently have no income, is probably asking for a bit much. I’m not saying it’s not possible, I’m sure it’s been done…but the probability of that happening isn’t as great. I think it would make more sense to make your resolutions promises of building habits that will serve you in your pursuit of your big goals. If you’re trying to make a million dollars, let’s map out what are the habits and activities I need to implement in this New Year that will make that achievable.

Resolutions cannot simply be treated like wishes, they need to be treated as actionable items that you have control over. I believe there’s an old saying that goes, “There is only one way to eat an elephant…a bite at a time”. That’s how we should pursue our goals, and our resolutions are those smaller bites that lead to full consumption. If we come to realize that one small step in the right direction leads us to our big wins then we will most likely come to enjoy many more big wins in the course of our lives than we could possibly imagine today. That is what we call the compound effect.

5 TIPS TO SEE YOUR RESOLUTIONS THROUGH

I hope these tips resonate with you, as always, these are practical tips…somewhat rooted in changing your psychology and the way you approach building success habits. These are by no means easy to incorporate, but with the appropriate level of effort I do believe that the right mentality shift is achievable.

  1. TREAT EVERYDAY LIKE THE 1ST OF THE YEAR – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray, but that is how we should approach each day. In the film, Murray is forced to repeat living the same day over and over again, that day being February 2nd. He finds himself stuck in an endless time-loop and gains so much knowledge of himself, and the activities that will unfold in that day, that he is able to effect real change (for better or worse) in his life and the lives of others around him. While we find ourselves in a new day every morning, the premise of repetition proves relevant here. There might be some differences in each day, but much of our routine is rooted in repetition. Begin to examine the things that are serving you in route to your goals and build upon those, and begin to discover the poor habits that you carry with you daily and take every step possible to reduce your reliance on those. We may not be working to make February 2nd the best possible day, but if we wake up on the 2nd with the goal to get better each day after then we’re essentially working to build up to perfect days ahead. Technically, time is a man-made construct so who’s not to say that we’re just living on long day.
  2. PUSH PAST RESISTANCE AND FIND BLISS – What does that even mean!? I believe that most of us are over-thinkers, and we usually tend to think ourselves out of what could be the best parts of our day. Sticking to the script is easy. It makes our day seem as though we’re using cruise control, or on auto-pilot. Unfortunately, if you have bad habits you’re most likely wasting your time on activities that don’t really excite you. Turning on the tv is so easy, it’s literally just clicking a button. However, it doesn’t matter how good that show is, when it’s over you feel empty. You were excited, perhaps even on the edge of your seat…but it’s over. You’ve got nothing to show for the hours, or hours, spent watching and it would seem to those lacking dopamine inducing activities that the only way to feel that rush again is to tune in again tomorrow. The problem with doing activities that require effort is the barrier to entry. If it’s not easy, or the thought of doing it seems laborious, we often forego the effort in even attempting to start doing that activity. However, we often forget how good it feels once we’ve actually gotten into it. An example would be working out. The idea of working out seems painful and long, however, once I find myself in a good workout I feel good. I do feel pain as well, but it’s a good…productive kind of pain. I believe that if we push ourselves past our own thoughts that we can find great success. Self-discipline and strong will can help us grow into that which we know we can be, and also help us be excited about it.
  3. STOP SEEKING PERFECTION AND STOP COMPARING YOURSELF – Progress over perfection is something often encouraged, and I find that it’s true. Trying to achieve whatever your vision of perfection is seems not only daunting, but also demoralizing. I’ve found myself comparing my efforts, be it at design, at code, at the gym, etc. to other people who have achieved an expert level and getting down on myself, or over-thinking the process I need to undergo to build MYSELF up. I’m sure even those who we strive to be like in terms of talent would tell you that they themselves are still seeking perfection. When we play the game of comparison it’s easy to get down on ourselves and our abilities, and submit to the idea that since I’m not like this TODAY, then I will never be like this, and it’s not even worth making a decent effort at achieving such things. That’s sad…super sad. When you know the desires of your heart can be achieved but you lack the patience and willpower to overcome and achieve them. The best thing for you would be to stop looking at those you admire if you tend to look at them through the lens of envy, rather than the lens of inspiration. We have to remember that we own our story and our journey. Our path won’t be like anybody else’s, it’s ours. Be inspired by what you see but not dismayed. Work diligently and the fruits of your labor will begin to show.
  4. IF YOU FAIL, DUST YOURSELF OFF AND TRY AGAIN – Adopt the mentality that failure in some form and fashion is okay. Everyday doesn’t have to be perfect, you can fall short sometimes…and you most likely will. However, a few bad days doesn’t mean you throw the whole year away and wait for 2022. As humans we’re imperfect by nature, but we’re resilient. If you find that today you didn’t hit any of your goals then make every effort to hit them tomorrow. Life isn’t so much about reaching your destination as it is taking the journey. You’ll have numerous goals and dreams over the course of your existence, however, in order to get to any of them you must first go on a journey. Once you reach one goal then you’re on to the next journey. You have to adopt the mindset that every good habit you build is meant to serve your LIFE, not just your goal. How you do anything is how you’ll do everything, and so it’s important to know that while you’re working towards self-fulfilment (the fulfillment of one’s hopes and ambitions), the real power is in finding self-realization (the fulfillment of one’s own potential), which comes from not seeking things extrinsically, but rather serving that which excites you intrinsically. Goals will be achieved, success will come and go, but the variable that remains constant at the end of it all is that you have to live with yourself and who you are in spite of everything else around you.
  5. LIVE LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW – This might be similar to living as if everyday is the 1st, but also significantly different. I feel like the first embodies the excitement, however, this bullet point should ignite the fear and embolden your passion to make the most of the life you’ve been given. One thing that those of us who are blessed with life fail to remember is that a new day truly is a blessing. It seems automatic and it happens without thought, but we often forget that a new day is never promised, and that while you awoke this morning there are so many who did not. We only get one chance at this life and you have to begin finding ways to make the most of it for yourself. I’ve previously made a post around the idea of finding your own voice again, and I’ll echo that sentiment here. It’s easy to get distracted and lose sight of who WE are because there’s so much in our lives that serve to distract us from who that person is. It could be your job, your spouse, your friends, your kids, the news, covid, etc. The list is infinite. Begin to imagine what you’d be remembered as, or for, if you were to die tomorrow. Think about it from the spiritual realm as well. I’ve had the pleasure of reading the book “Can’t Hurt Me” by the great David Goggins, who in that book speaks to his transformation from a fat, lazy, bug exterminator into a lean, fit Navy Seal and Army Ranger. In that book he had this anecdote which made reference to the idea that he dies as his old self (the fat pile of sludge he used to be) and he gets to Heaven and God shows him who he could’ve been. He suggests that he begins to feel as though he wasted his whole life when he sees who the best version of himself was but realizes he can’t do anything about it now, regardless of wish to have a second chance to change things. I’m sure when we die none of this will matter, but while we’re here we should seek to spend time uncovering who the best version of yourself is so that when our time comes we can move on having little to no regrets.
CONCLUSION

As always, if you made it this far then thank you for your time, energy, and attention. I want to continue to improve my writing to serve whatever the future of my contributions to this World will be. I often only write from inspiration and everyday I’m continuing to seek ways to grow as a human as well. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, these entries as just as much for me as they are for you. Let’s all continue to grow together and hopefully you’ll take something from this that will help you better yourself. I love you and may you forever be blessed!

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