“After a Thirty Years’ War with himself peace was at last concluded: but the time was lost to him.”
-Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books
The third week of January marks the beginning of Resolution Relapse season in gyms across America. And it’s not just newly minted fitness buffs who feel fatigued. This week, all that New Year’s enthusiasm begins to waver, and your will power becomes depleted by the fact that there are just as many demands on your time and attention as ever, only now you’ve added One More Thing to your pile.
Whether your goal in the New Year is to quit bad habits or establish good ones, this is the time of year when the war with yourself begins to swing into high gear. Your better self starts losing ground to the old habits, and you start forgetting why you set those goals in the first place.
So how do you go back on the offensive? Whether your goals for the New Year were set for yourself or your business, the strategies for sticking to them are remarkably the same. Here are three ways to keep moving forward
- Take Measurements
Whether your goal is to waste less time at work, be more physically active, or just to get enough sleep, one of the first things you can do to get back on track is to make sure you’re working with accurate data. There are a surprising number of tools available to help, or you can keep tabs with good old pen and paper. The important thing is to make sure that you’re closely tracking that which you want to change.
- Quit Bad Strategies
Nobody likes to think of themselves as a quitter, but the war with yourself isn’t going to be won if you won’t quit your bad strategies. As Seth Godin explains in The Dip, it’s important to realize when you’re on a path that will never yield your desired result. When you quit those strategies that aren’t working, you free up more time and energy to reinvest in the strategies that do. And by having accurate measurements to work with, you can more easily identify both.
- Know Where You’re Going
You might think your goals are clear – lose weight, make more money, expand my business – but are they clear enough? To paraphrase Cal Newport, if you’re not exceptionally clear about where you want to go, you will wander. Clarifying your goal doesn’t just make it easier to measure and establish good strategies – there is evidence that focusing on your goal actually improves performance. The more clearly you see your goal, the more easily you can narrow your attention on it.
If you find your resolve flagging this week, take these steps: measure your activity, quit your losing strategies, and clarify your goals. Don’t lose more time at war with yourself.