If you find you're one of many Americans whose New Year's resolutions fail, you might assume you have a willpower deficiency. Not true, says Brian Moran. The real problem is that a year is just too much time — switch to 12 weeks and you might finally reach your goal.
Moran, co-author along with Michael Lennington of the New York Times best-seller “The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months,” says thinking annually lulls you into thinking you have months to make changes, feeding procrastination. He instead suggests:
» Realize that success is created in the moment. Most of us define success as the completion of a project, but he argues that success is all of the little things you do throughout the year to make your goals happen. Adopting this definition of success, you'll want to make the most of your time.
» Redefine your relationship with deadlines. Most of us see deadlines as the bad guy. “But realistic deadlines are actually great motivators. They are tools that can help you create end-of-year energy, focus and commitment throughout the year.”
» Put a little less faith in your yearly planner. In other words, be realistic about your ability to plan. Life — including what we want out of it — can change in an instant.
» Keep score starting Jan. 1. It's relatively easy to ignore or rationalize procrastination when you have to look at the numbers only once a year. But when you start measuring on a more frequent basis, you can't hide behind the illusion that the present moment isn't important.
» Be honest about your track record. Shortening your time frame for goals means you'll encounter fewer unforeseen obstacles, changed priorities or waning interest.
» Stop saying “have to” and start saying “choose to.” “Saying, 'I choose to attend night classes so I can rise in my field' feels a lot better than saying, 'I have to attend night classes so I won't be stuck in this job forever.' ”
» Be proactive, not reactive. Most of us don't make the most of our time because we engage each day reactively and are driven by input triggers — the phone rings, the email dings, a new task appears. Consciously choose activities that align with your goals.