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'Achieve What Truly Matters To You'

One thing at a time

Mar. 08, 2012 | Cindy Lee

QUESTION from a reader:  What do I do about my new years’ resolutions?  I set several and am kinda disappointed that I’ve already quit them all.  I kind of want to just forget that I set them in the first place, so they’ll quit gnawing at me.  That’s better than feeling guilty all the time, right?

My ANSWER:  I agree it’s not healthy to feel guilty all the time.  But I do NOT think the answer is to drop the goals altogether.  In fact, that will lead to a worse feeling, as you will subconsciously begin to lose trust in yourself.  It’s not a good situation when you can’t take seriously your future goals, or worse yet, when you second-guess your ability to achieve things that you set as important.

I’ll share a quick tip on getting things done / time management… beyond just new years’ resolutions, because we all also have strategic goals and massive to-do lists to get through.

First, take a fair look at what you’ve “set” — some are things you can do and eventually check off a list (eg, clean out the garage, hit the gym x times a week, target goals at work); others are shifts in attitude and perspective that you’ll want to work on for a lifetime (eg, be grateful, compare myself less with others, assert myself more at work).  Have a realistic expectation for yourself, that some will be “done” and others will be ongoing.

Next, no matter which it is (done vs ongoing), the approach is the same:

Tackle it one thing at a time.

Sounds so simple, but ask yourself honestly – Do I ever overcommit during the start of the new year, whether at work or in my own life goals?  Or, How often do I ever eagerly begin strong on several things but lose juice partway in?  Jumping on everything at once might feel productively appropriate or a good way to funnel your passion, but ultimately it may be disappointing.

Take a moment to choose one item with priority (NOT necessarily the most urgent!) and then focus on doing it with diligence and purpose (a whole other topic in itself).  When you’re “done” with one task, start the next.

For ones that are more ongoing, figure out some tangible steps you can DO to get closer to that goal.  For example, if you want to “not be so consumed with work,” decide what that means for you — perhaps it’s reducing the number of hours/week you work, or the number of hours you continue to work at night when home, or the amount of mindshare that it consumes at any given moment.  Also, choose what you’d like to do instead with the time/energy you’re no longer going to be focusing on work.  Pick one area to try out for a week or two.  When you feel like you’ve found something that works for you and has become a decent habit or discipline in your life, THEN pick up another one.

Of course, if you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know from an earlier post that a crucial intermediary step is to celebrate hitting that goal before starting the next.  Tackle one, celebrate, and repeat.  One resolution or task that’s successfully accomplished is WAY more thrilling than many ongoingly left undone!

I love the questions… keep ‘em coming.  :)