And Why you Should start on December 9th
It’s that time of year again, with the New Year lurking. Are you someone who loves New Years Resolutions, prefers to soften the approach with an annual theme, or hates the whole concept? Regardless of your stance, here are some tips from Daniel Pink’s book “When,” combined with good business planning techniques that will set you up for success in the upcoming year.
Imagine Failure in Advance
Fast forward 12 months. There are no masks in view, and you are milling among other humans. Suddenly, you see an old friend approaching. Still, instead of delight, you are cringing inside, hating having to answer their inevitable question, “What have you been up to?”
Your year was a disaster. Everything that you had planned went awry. You had such goals for the new year, but, in hindsight, this year was ugly. You thought you’d be svelte, your phone would be full of photos from an extraordinary international vacation, and you’d have a new baby/puppy/bicycle/relationship by your side. None of that happened. You seek the nearest exit rather than relate to your missteps and false starts.
Pause, and write down the upbeat version of that encounter.
Conducting a pre-mortem on your next year can help you gain some insights to create your ideal experience. Wouldn’t it be nice to be excited about your life?
Create Personal Outcomes
By spending some time tapping into a future you really care about, you can clarify what really matters to you. Instead of creating New Year’s Resolutions, borrow from agile business planning to create personal outcomes. Spend some time exploring a problem, you have that you want to fix. Envision that problem being magically fixed!
Now, ask yourself, “How would I benefit from that problem dissolving away?” That benefit becomes your personal outcome.
This is how a few typical resolutions could evolve into personal outcomes.
- Losing weight → could evolve to → become more fit so I can be active with my loved ones
- Saving money → could evolve to → feel more secure about my financial health
- Travel more → could evolve to → be a citizen of the world
Once you have those outcomes in mind, spend some time thinking about how else you can reach those same outcomes? And go crazy! Have some fun thinking about some intriguing ways you could meet your objective.
An outcome like “becoming more fit” could lead to activities like
a) start bicycling again
b) join the beach volleyball team
c) go kayaking in Costa Rica
Now you have personal outcomes (why) and have defined a few activities (what). Go a step further to think about how you can quantify those activities. Consider how to give yourself choices about how to meet your personal outcomes. “Becoming more fit” could have several measurable inputs that can help keep you on track but still give some flexibility in how to approach your outcomes.
a) bike 1,000 miles over the year
b) join the local volleyball team and play for 3 months
c) kayak 10 miles on each of 3 local rivers
Pause here, and quantify how you will measure your activities
Intentionally Plan Fresh Starts
Plan some iterative mid-points to inspect and adapt. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is how to pivot when life throws you a face mask.
In “When,” Pink lists 86 days that seem to be “especially effective to create a fresh start.” These include the first day of the month, Mondays, your birthday, or your country’s Independence Day.
Pause here and add at least 4 calendar entries on your smart-phone or a work calendar — anywhere where you will see them — to intentionally review and adapt your personal objectives and planned activities.
Your personal review will give you a chance to inspect your progress, examine extenuating factors, and make adjustments in your plan to re-align you with your objectives.
A knee injury in June? Perhaps July means you start swimming instead of jogging. Had an unexpected expense in March? Consider doubling up your savings in the next quarter.
Use these focused times to review your outcomes, progress, and most importantly, allow yourself to adapt. Planning for change means that we can expect, even welcome, change. Along the way, it changes failing moments to learning moments.
Start on December 9th, not January 1st
On December 9th, you will have 21 days before the New Year starts. We know that 21 days of doing anything can be a great kickstart to new habits. Little habits can reinforce good routines. Like adding to your savings a little at a time, perhaps by matching your weekly savings to your coffee spend, to examine your spending habits. At the end of 21 days, you may find you have more disposable income than you thought, which can influence your personal outcomes.
It’s also three weeks before the near year — a chance to design and run 3 week-long experiments. You can use this period to experiment with possible outcomes, trying them on to see if they fit your desired lifestyle. Planning on investing in a new bike? Get your old bike tires pumped up and gears oiled, and take a quick ride around the neighborhood. You may find that it’s good enough to get started until you decide what to do next. Or, you may decide that bicycling is not for you or your sit bones. If you find out you really love it, plan on making that new bike purchase a little later in the year. There are great deals to be had in the marketplace after others give up on resolutions.
Instead of planning on signing up at a new gym on January 1st, visit several facilities with free two-week offers, or try a new outdoor activity. This might be a great time to try out a paddleboard rental or hit some balls at a driving range.
By the time January 1st rolls over on the clock, you will be well on your way to your new routines.
Pause here — Comment below on how you are thinking about approaching the New Year and if you have created some personal outcomes for yourself.
Or, you can just stop by to say hi.
Hone your craft, speak your truth, show your thanks