Well, the first month of the year is already gone. How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? Not so great? Me neither. In fact, I didn’t even make any. But I never make New Year’s resolutions.
I prefer New Day’s resolutions.
New Day’s resolutions consist of tasks, actions, activities and goals that I expect to achieve just for today. If I can make it through this new day succeeding at the goals that I have planned for myself, I consider it a win.
Then I’ll do it again tomorrow.
Some of my New Day’s resolutions are the same every day: Drinking a glass of water before having my coffee. Taking a walk. Reading for at least an hour. Feeding the sourdough starter. Making the bed.
These are arguably minor daily goals, and I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t manage them. But that’s the beauty of New Day’s resolutions. You have another chance tomorrow.
New Day’s resolutions can and should also include more important or bigger goals as well. They may not look exactly like the previous ones, but they are those activities that move you toward a larger goal: Doing something for your new business. Writing a page of your book. Plan these ahead of time.
For example, each night before bed, Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary writes three tasks on a sticky-note that he says he must accomplish the next morning before anyone else wakes up. This seemingly insignificant action of writing his plans down can greatly increase productivity.
Author and psychologist Angela Duckworth, in her book Grit, describes a hierarchy of goals. The top-level goal is achieved by accomplishing mid- and low-level goals; they’re a means to an end so to speak.
Perhaps your top-level goal is to start a small business. Your mid-level goals would include writing a business plan, registering your business with the government and IRS, purchasing insurance, setting up financial accounts and creating a website. Minor goals and tasks can then be planned to accomplish those mid-level goals. Seemingly trivial tasks like making the bed each day can contribute to your top level goal because it increases your productivity and motivation.
So, each night before bed, write down three assignments that you will accomplish the following day that will move you toward that top level goal of starting the business.
If low- and mid-level goals aren’t aiming you toward your top-level goal, it may be time to re-evaluate them.
I find it helpful to use a diagram of a hierarchy of goals to see which goals are supporting other goals. It also makes it easier to see those goals that may not be contributing to your top-level one.
Maybe your top-level goal is to start a successful blog. Your mid-level goals could include writing 1000 words on one day, and editing and publishing those words the following day. Rinse and repeat.
Low-level goals to support those mid-level ones could include the ones I previously mentioned in addition to perhaps waking at an earlier hour or consuming a healthier diet.
Can you have more than one top-level goal? Yes, but don’t spread yourself too thin. A top-level goal in your professional life and one for your personal/family life are usually sufficient.
Can your top-level goal change? Of course. Finding one’s passion can take a lifetime and passions and interests change over time. But many folks give up too easily, too soon. The most successful people, as described in Grit, are those that can sustain their passion over a long period of time.
I find it much easier to stick with New Day’s resolutions than New Year’s resolutions. Many people give up after breaking the New Year’s ones. They feel guilty and feel like it’s not worth it to start again.
But by creating goals for each day, you can create a new sense of accomplishment each day. Will you screw up? Of course, we all do. But each day is a new opportunity to get back on the wagon.
I highly recommend Kevin O’Leary’s productivity trick and Angela Duckworth’s goal hierarchy chart. Try them out and watch your productivity skyrocket.
What are your favorite productivity tips?