First of all: Wish you a wonderful new year! While I may not be able to talk to you personally, I say this with all my heart: May 2023 be truly special for you. May you find success and peace. May this be the year of joy for you.
2023 can indeed be a special year. But if 2023 has to be different, we need to do something different. And that is what I am going to talk about in this newsletter.
Whatever your new year’s resolutions are, whatever goals you have set for yourself – you can’t depend on external motivation. Instead, this year, let us depend on systems.
And here is the system I propose:
A. Iterate: Whatever you want to accomplish this year, whether it is crushing your learning goal or building a good habit, follow this three step process:
- Commit to specific daily actions: E.g., From Mon to Friday, every morning at 6 am, I will go for a run/gym.
- Act: This is really simple – just do it.
- Introspect: If you fail in step 2, instead of getting demoralized, just ask yourself the following:
- What obstacle came in the way of taking the action? Most of the obstacles are inside us – identify them.
- How could you respond differently if the same obstacle came up again? Come up with specific things you can do differently. And that becomes your goal (Step 1) for the next day.
This introspection (Step 3) should be done in your daily journal, which you can write in the morning or evening.
After the introspection, repeat steps 1 to 3 every day. No matter what obstacles come up, if you keep trying to fix them, you will.
The only thing is to not compromise on the system – follow it regardless.
B. Operate on a scale of ‘one day’
The biggest downside of new year’s resolutions is that when things fail, we wait for the next year to make the next set of resolutions. Also, it is too hard to control your actions for the next one year. But it is much easier to control what we will do today.
That is why, the above system of iteration should be done daily. Even if one day goes haywire, no need go get frustrated as you can fix it the very next day.
Note: This requires you to make journaling a daily habit, which is something we should all do anyway.
C. To build good habits, start with the easy/fun stuff
We want to build many habits and bring many changes in our life. But start with the enjoyable ones first. Once you make a habit stick, it boosts your confidence and over time, it changes your identity – you start seeing yourself as a person of self-discipline.
And once your identity changes, you can do the harder things. It is almost like lifting weights to build muscle, which helps you lift more weight!
So start with the easy stuff and then ladder up.
D. Find buddies and communities of like-minded people
Almost all new friends I have made this year are my running buddies.
Running with friends makes it fun to run long distances. Similarly, for anything you aspire to do, if you can find like-minded people for the journey, things become easier.
E. Things will go wrong. But it doesn’t matter
No matter how excited you feel now, over the coming days, your motivation will dip and there will be setbacks. Despite your best intentions, your resolutions will some day break. But when that happens, don’t get frustrated.
Instead of ruminating about yesterday, fix the mistake today.
That is how real change happens. Every morning, put down the burden of your past and start each day like it was the first day of your life.
As James Clear says, “You don’t rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” Is that true? Find it out for yourself.
Good luck. I am confident that we can make 2023 insanely better. The secret – keep trying.