It’s a new year, a new blog, and a new reason to procrastinate doing what’s important (like how I put off writing this post for 3 days.)
You go to bed at night worrying about what you need to get done the next day and tell yourself “tomorrow will be the day I finally start to get my shit together.” You wake up the next morning and fall back into the same bad habits that have only weighed you down. You know what you want out of life, you know what you need to get it, but you still take the easiest route and do what’s comfortable. It’s not productive, it’s not helping you – but it’s easy… it’s safe. I’m not going to pretend like I don’t have bad habits and procrastinate, I do. I waste time goofing off on the internet, waste time playing video games, waste time drinking, waste time watching Netflix.
Every new year, people seem to believe that somehow they will become a “new me” even though they know it’s a lie they tell themselves to feel better. They will keep doing the same shit and keep getting the same results. They only have vague New Year’s “resolutions” and no step-by-step plan on how to achieve these goals. It’s a sad routine that people find themselves in every year, and I am ashamed to admit that I ain’t any different. Every new year I tell myself I’ll achieve X and Y by Z, but rarely do. I always fall back into my bad habits, my addictive personality, and my stubborn ways.
I came up with an easy-to-remember method to actually stick to your goals and actually become a “new me.”
Analyze. Arrange. Act.
Analyze – What happened? Why did it happen?
Take some time to be alone. Get rid of any distractions. Turn off your phone. Grab a notepad and a pen. Lock the door. Sit and think about what you did in 2015 and if it got you any closer to your personal goals.
What did you do in 2015 that you were proud of? What did you do that you aren’t proud of? Why?
What habits helped you? What habits hurt you? What are some bad habits you want to get rid of? Some good ones you want to create?
What did you waste time on? What did you learn? Did you grow, stagnate, or decay?
What challenges did you overcome? What challenges were too much to handle?
Did you start any new relationships, were they fulfilling? Did you end any old relationships, were they holding you back?
Write down everything you did this past year – the good and the bad.
Arrange – How can I do better? When will I do it?
After you take the time to analyze the past year, you have to figure out how to make this year better. Write it down.
If you did something you were proud of, figure out how to keep doing that. If you did something you weren’t proud of (and I’m sure you did), figure out how to prevent that from happening again this year. Write it down.
If your habits helped you, figure out what you can do to keep those habits. If your habits hurt you, figure out how you overcome your negative patterns and become a better you. Write it down.
If you wasted time, figure out why you wasted time – were you bored, were you lazy, were you escaping your problems? Write it down.
If you overcame difficult challenges, figure out what strengths you have that allowed you to do so. Write it down.
If you were overcame by difficult challenges, figure out what weaknesses you have that allowed you to do so. Write it down.
If you started any new relationships that you value, figure out why you appreciate this person in your life. Write it down. Tell them why you appreciate them.
If you ended any old relationships that were holding you back, figure out why you are better off without them. Write it down. Don’t tell them because they’d probably be upset.
Figure out what’s working and stick to it. Figure out what’s not and get rid of it. Write it down.
Make a schedule. Make daily goals. Make weekly goals. Make monthly goals. Write it down. Stick to them.
Smartphones and the internet give us so many ways to schedule our lives and stay on task – and so many ways to distract us from what’s important.
A fun and unique app I use to create and complete goals is an app/website called Habitica. It’s based off of Role-Playing Games where you get experience points (XP) and gold coins for completing quests. Habitica lets you create “quests” for yourself in the form of a to-do list, daily “quests,” and habits. You get experience points and gold for completing quests and sticking to good habits, and lose health and gold when you don’t complete daily quests or continue with your bad habits. When you get enough XP, you level up. If you save up enough gold, you can buy 15 minute breaks, health potions, armor and weapons to protect your character.
I’ll admit it – I used to be addicted to World of Warcraft when I was in middle school. If you can get hooked on the dopamine rush of completing digital quests on a computer screen, imagine how good you’ll feel when you complete actual quests in your real life.
Write down your specific goals and specifically what you will do to achieve them and specifically when you do so.
Act – Just do it.
After you make a plan to improve your life and a system to keep track of it, just do it. There’s nothing I can say to you that will suddenly “motivate” you to do what you know you need to do.
There’s not enough clever metaphors, song lyrics, or inspirational quotes that will magically make you get off your lazy ass and get to work.
Do you think successful people need to motivate themselves to get shit done? Do you think Donald Trump watches TED talks on YouTube every morning? Do you think Putin browses Reddit to find inspirational memes? Of course not – they are internally motivated. They have the drive inside of themselves to get shit done. If you need some sort of external stimulus to motivate you, your success won’t last. It has to come from within.
Personally, 2015 was a great year. I made a lot of mistakes and wasted a lot of time. I burned a lot of bridges and a hole in my pocket. I succumbed to my addictive personality and took unnecessary risks (anybody want to adopt two cats, by the way?) I don’t regret any of my mistakes – they’re learning opportunities. Despite of all of my failures, 2015 was probably the best year of my (admittedly short) life. I spent a few weeks in France, saw my photo in the Louvre, learned the basics of two languages, read good books, learned a lot about the world, got a good job, kicked bad habits, found God, met a wonderful girl, and fell in love.
Most people reading this article will fall back into their old habits and stay the same person they’ve always been. When ball drops on December 31, 2016 – they’ll be wondering why they are still the 2015 version of themselves. It’s a new year – are you going to take responsibility for your own life and be in control, or be the victim to circumstances?
So ask yourself: do you want to become the best version of yourself, or continue being the easy version of yourself?
Hell is meeting the person you could have been. – Keith Cunningham