Traditionally, as a culture, we look at the New Year as a time of change and renewal, a time to recharge, set goals and make better progress at crossing off that never-ending list of to do's. Many have the desire to finish a project, others to achieve certain benchmarks with their business. Weight loss is a perennial pursuit. Maybe finally cleaning out your garage and closets is the thing you really know you need to finally do.
These are outcome goals, and knowing where you want to end up helps you chart your destination. However, outcome goals can also feel overwhelming and it's easy to get lost in a battle with resistance and put off getting started or set your sights to high and quit because you can't keep pace with your own arbitrary or possibly unrealistic targets.
Tim Ferriss writes about this very issue and how he dealt with it to get himself over the finish line writing The Four Hour Body, a 608-page book:
"Make it small and temporary: the immense practicality of baby steps. Take the pressure off. Michael Levin has made a career of taking the pressure off, and it has worked. Sixty literary works later, from national nonfiction bestsellers to screenplays, he was suggesting that I (Tim) do the same: set a meager goal of two pages of writing per day. I had made a mental monster of the book in your hands, and setting the bar low allowed me to do what mattered most: get started each morning. take the pressure off and put in your five easy sessions. The rest will take care of itself."
Indeed, it's these simple disciplines, these daily habits, that help us to achieve our outcome goals over time. That's why setting process goals is equally if not more important than setting outcome goals. It's also why many people don't achieve their goals, because, as Jeff Olson writes in his succinct but on-point book, The Slight Edge, "every action that is easy to do, is also easy not to do. Why are these simple yet crucial things easy not to do? Because if you don't do them, they won't kill you ... at least, not today. You won't suffer, or fail or blow it—today. "
But achievement is a process and success is a mark of slow, gradual progress. Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady has been playing professional football for 20 years and is still at the top of his game. Why? Because he famously does that 2% more every day. People who lose weight and keep it off don't go on diets, they change their diet. Those who build solid businesses create systems and structures that help maintain consistency and monitor them daily. People who have clean, organized houses and workspaces don't let things pile up. They attack them little by little every day.
So if you have a goal this year, say, to finally clean out that garage. You don't have to tackle it all at once. Do a little bit every day or every week and implement organizational systems as you go along. If you want to be more consistent at your workouts, set a goal of 20 minutes a day five or six days a week. Wish you had more time to read? If you conquer ten pages a day, by the end of the year, that's 3650 pages in a year, or roughly twelve books.
Set the bar low. Make it a daily practice. Rinse. Cycle. Repeat. Over time, your goals won't feel like far-off dreams, they will become present-day habits and realities.
Happy New Year from PopUP CleanUP.