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New Years Resolutions are generally well intentioned attempts to kickstart ourselves into learning something new, losing weight, or saving money. Realistically though, they’re exceptional if they aren’t forgotten by February.
In fact, we’re now one week into the new year and how many of you actually stuck to your goals (or even bothered with them at all this year)?
But seriously now, let’s make this year the one where we really stick to our well made plans and finally achieve something worthwhile. Agreed? Read on for 3 solid ways to make those resolutions truly stick and make a difference in your lives.
Actionable Goals, not vague nonsense
The trouble with most of our New Years Resolutions are that they tend to be rather vague:
- Save $10,000
- Learn some Chinese
- Work out everyday
As any entrepreneur and serious self-improvement guru types will tell you, these are useless. They don’t describe anything about the steps needed to get to that goal, and things like “learn some Chinese” don’t even define a specific endpoint. Although specific goals such as “save $10,000” are admirable, they sadly aren’t actionable – meaning there isn’t a specific, defined action you can take to work towards that goal (other than say, moving $10,000 from your checking to savings account, in which case you probably don’t need to make that a resolution anyway). No, no, these will never do. Instead, make your goals into smaller daily or weekly actionable items – like these:
- Save $200 every week
- Complete one full Rosetta Stone Chinese session everyday
- Do 20 wall push-ups everyday
- Do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise everyday
Can you see the difference? We’re still saving $10,000 a year, but it’s something we can check the action for every week, or tick off every day.
If you’re having trouble thinking of some specific actionable items for your vague goals, check out anti-resolution from MeYouHealth. It’s a simple web app that’ll present you with some real, actionable items after you’ve selected your vague goal.
Now, you should have a much better resolution list consisting of many small, finite actions that you can check off as you complete each day. The next step then, is to track your progress.
Tracking your activities, or how much progress is being made in the case of weight loss etc, is in itself a huge motivator. In fact, it’s often said that simply measuring your waist every day is a great way to lose weight as it makes you eat more consciously. Here’s a mixed bag variety of tools that I think might help you, but remember that a trusty Excel/Google Docs spreadsheet can work just as well sometimes.
EpicWin (iTunes Link – $1.99)
This is my personal tool of choice, and can be summarized as a comprehensive to-do list with RPG game elements. After having created your character and added some repeating actions with associated point value, you hold the action for a few seconds to trigger some battle music and complete the item, thereby adding the points, maybe levelling up, and possibly even finding some loot!
Ok, so there is no actual roleplay ‘game’ in that there are no real fights or adventuring, but it’s a lot more fun than simply ticking off a daily item, and you could even compete with friends if you agreed on point values I guess. Check out the awesome video:
If your goals revolve around spending time on a task or saving money daily, this might be the perfect tool for you. The interface is incredibly simple and allows you to track multiple projects with ease.
A single purpose web app that would be great for your homepage. Unfortunately, it literally only tracks daily actions, so if you have weekly or monthly actions then forget it. Very simple, very fast.
We covered this in the directory before – it allows you to break down large goals or projects into a number of smaller steps, rather than a repeating daily task, as well as having social features. The interface isn’t exactly friendly though.
Still Got No Ideas?
If you’re in the mood for some change but really don’t have anything specific in mind, try the Daily Challenge. Saikat covered this in depth last year, but basically the system will email you random challenges every day which you can either skip or complete in one click.
Even with specific small steps to our goals, it’s often easy to forget to do them for a day, then another day, until ultimately we just don’t care anymore. No amount of web apps is going to help you there, but it does help to be in the mental state of constantly thinking about self improvement. Sign up to some newsletters or RSS feeds from motivational speakers and self improvement experts to keep yourself on track and motivated to complete your goals.
When I was first into self-improvement, Steve Pavlina was a big influence and motivation for me, and while his blog is still active it does seem to have moved away from the core teaching lately. I highly recommend the old podcasts and article archives though.
That’s all from me today, as I’m busy sticking to my rigorous new daily action schedule! Don’t forget to check out all our other Self Improvement tagged posts too. Here’s wishing you all the best – happiness, health and prosperity this year! If you’ve found some other great tracking tools or motivational podcasts etc, do please share with us all in the comments – or maybe you’re brave enough to tell us your new year resolutions?