You read that right. This year, we think you shouldn’t make a New Year’s resolution.
In a post last month, entrepreneur and self-improvement expert James Clear argued that the key to accomplishing things is to create systems, not goals.
What’s the difference? A goal, like a resolution, is a specific end-point that you want to reach. As Clear explains, a runner’s goal could be to run a marathon. A writer’s goal could be to complete a book. The system, on the other hand, is the strategy you use to achieve those goals. For the runner, that would be the training plan. For the writer, it’s a writing schedule.
What would happen if you ignored the goal entirely and only focused on the day-to-day? Clear says you’d still get results, and you’d be happier, too. The problem with goals, he says, is that you trick yourself into believing that once you reach that goal you’ll be happy and successful. That mindset puts unnecessary stress and weight on your shoulders.
A better way to motivate yourself in the long term is to commit to a process, not a goal or series of goals. The runner is better off leaving some workouts unfinished, if that helps him stick to a long-term schedule. The writer doesn’t necessarily have to pen 1,000 words a day, so long as she sits down and writes something on a regular basis.
“Goals are about the short-term result. Systems are about the long-term process. In the end, process always wins,” Clear writes.
So in the spirit of using systems and not pursuing goals, consider not making a New Year’s resolution this year. Instead, start a system. If you want to lose weight, move more and eat better rather setting a benchmark number of pounds to shed. If you want to read more, try getting in the habit of picking up a book after work instead of challenging yourself to get through 50 of them in the next 12 months.
Creating a system and sticking to it has the power to change your life. But individual goals come and go, and can be overwhelming to achieve. That’s why we think you shouldn’t make a New Year’s resolution, at least in the traditional sense, for 2014.
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