Goal setting is in the air at this time of the year. We reflect on the year that just passed and look ahead to what's possible this year.
As we get older, we tend to get into a bit of a habit in the way we do things. It takes a conscious decision and some initial effort to shake loose of our typical routines and do something new.
So while I don't go for the whole "New Years Resolutions" thing, I do think it's great to reflect on what worked and what didn't, set some goals and try some new things.
(Yep - that's generally what happens with most of the goals we set)
The biggest difference is that instead of setting year-long goals, I will be breaking them down into 30 day and 90 day deliverables. This is the best way I've found to make sure December 29th, 2016 doesn't roll around and I realize that I didn't reach my goals for the year.
With that in mind, here's how I'm making 2016 a year of achieving my goals.
Respect The Completion
One thing done is awesome. Five things started...but undone is quite the opposite. The internet never sleeps, and there is an unending amount of things that we could be doing at any point in time.
...but if you try to do all of them, you'll get absolutely nothing done at all. Then you'll feel like a complete loser.
This year, I plan to start less projects but see them through to the end. One of the first projects for me this year is a bit of a vanity project - publishing a short fiction story.
I'll go into several reasons why I've chosen to do this as this post continues, but suffice it to say that it's completely new territory for me in many ways...which leads me to my next point.
Do Something New
"If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got"
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"
These are two quotes that come to mind as pretty good reasons why we could all stand to do something 'new' in our lives.
I'd be lying if I said I was exactly where I want to be in my life. My net worth is in the negatives (WAY in the negatives) and I live with my parents (yes...I did say that).
But believe it or not, it's much improved from where I was a year ago, when I was still digging myself into a deep hole to nowhere. I've stopped digging and there's no where to go but up!
So, if I want to break out of old habits, right the ship and improve my life...I'm going to have to do some new things. New can be intimidating at times, but it can also be invigorating.
This year, if I'm considering doing something and it has an element of "newness" to it, I'm going to use that as an excuse to make it happen rather than going back to the old, familiar route.
Embrace Social Networking
I'm a self professed introvert, and I generally hate asking anyone for help...even when I seriously need it.
But something I heard Noah Kagan say last year stuck with me.
Starting a business or attempting to change your lifestyle is hard enough already, without you purposely avoiding anyone who actually may know, like or trust you already.
It's sort of like stepping into the ring to face Mike Tyson in his prime with one arm tied behind your back - good luck with that.
(It didn't go too well for this guy, and he had the use of both arms!)
So in 2016, one of the new things this introvert is going to do is tap social media and see what happens.
I don't expect it will solve all of my problems, and I've already had some curious results to my limited social engagement thus far...but I'm purposely putting my stuff out there and seeing what happens.
One example, again is the short story I'm publishing later this month. I went to Facebook with it first.
I shared it with two groups of people - my "friends" on Facebook (friends, family, co-workers, classmates from high school etc.) as well as with a group of online gamers who the story is perfect for.
- I'm crowd-sourcing the editing of the book.
- I'm soliciting feedback ahead of the publishing date.
- I'll probably have some sort of a cover competition before all of this is said and done as well.
All of this on Facebook; a place I generally avoid like the plague.
Repurpose and/or Leverage
Working your ass off and then abandoning your project unfinished and leaving it for dead is usually a bad idea, but it happens to me more often than I'd care to say.
Another piece of advice that stuck with me from The Science of Getting Rich:
The more things we do efficiently each day, the more successful we become.
The key word is efficiently. If we do too many things inefficiently we fail.
Think about good old Mother Nature. If the fox hunts non-stop in an inefficient manner - it catches nothing and will eventually starve.
It needs to spend less energy catching it's prey, then it receives by eating it, or it dies.
This is the same as with business; all business needs to earn more than it spends (profit) otherwise it dies.
By the same token, borrowing from Peter Drucker - there's nothing as bad as doing efficiently that which need not be done at all!
So where am I going with all this stuff? Being able to use existing assets to your advantage is smart.
This is all about leverage; profit versus waste.
So how am I applying this? Once again, my book that I'm publishing later this month consists of a short story that I wrote about 15 years ago.
I already put the time in and created something, but I put it up on an old website and left it for dead about 15 years ago.
Out of the blue, I stumbled upon it and thought it would be cool to publish it, so that's exactly what I'm doing.
I re-read it a few times. Gave it some tweaks, clarified a few things and edited it twice. I commissioned some original artwork and added a couple of versions, along with an audio book. I even ended up finding an editor on Facebook.
This took time and energy and money, but I'm looking to leverage something that already existed previously that was just languishing. I'm hoping that by adding value in this way, that other people will be willing to read it and will hopefully enjoy it and maybe...just maybe....pay me for it.
I'm not looking to get rich, or become a full time author - but there is something rewarding about turning what was essentially "nothing" into "something".
I'm not looking for profit here, but if I can break even and create something I'm proud of...I will consider that a big win.
Investing In Myself
I've been online for a long time, and most of the time I've attempted to avoid spending money, because there wasn't much to spend.
But saving money and doing it yourself is not smart - especially if you're attempting to save money doing something you're not all that good at doing in the first place.
Have you ever heard the saying that there's nothing more expensive than bad advice?
Many people consume free advice by the bucket-load, just because it's "free". Then they have to sift and sort though all the information presented, try to figure out what applies to them, what is actually true and what doesn't contradict all the other free advice they're getting.
In the end, they've wasted a lot of time, and probably did something themselves in a crappy way that didn't inspire anyone.
So even though I'm not fabulously wealthy, I'm spending my actual money with no guarantee that it will return. But I have to say it is a great feeling to see your vision come to life.
James Schramko is a strong advocate of delegating your weaknesses to others, to be the "conductor" of the orchestra rather than trying to be a master of every instrument (and ultimately falling short).
Invest in yourself by hiring others.
Do what you're awesome at and let someone else handle the rest, but you control the vision of what the final result is going to be.
Time Tracking & Accountability
I started this post talking about how to achieve what you want this year. One way I'm doing this is I'm embracing the concept of the "Zero Based Calendar" that I first heard from a cool dude by the name of Bryan Harris.
What it means is that you put everything on your calendar that you plan to do.
Plan to goof off and play video games this afternoon?
Put it in your calendar.
Want to wake up early Monday to Friday and spend an hour writing the novel that's in your head?
Put it in your calendar.
Want another great reason to “time-block” out your calendar? How about Calendly?
It’s an appointment booking app that integrates with Google calendar and works like a charm. For instance, I can set aside a few blocks of time each week to do some web consulting. Let’s say Monday from 7 – 9 pm each week.
But next week, my son has a hockey game at that exact time. Well – I put in my son’s hockey game and then Calendly won’t let anyone book an appointment during that time.
So, if I keep on top of my calendar I can be more productive, get more of my own stuff done and get more consulting gigs while still allowing for real life things like hockey games during weeknights (in my particular case).
I’m trying this out with limited degrees of success already; sometimes I book way too much and other times not enough at all…
But I’m taking it all in stride because
Don’t Beat Yourself Up For Not Hitting A Home Run
Stephen King shares a great quote in his book On Writing: A Memoir of The Craft.
Only God gets it right the first time.
Nothing worthwhile is easy, and not succeeding initially doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen or that you “suck” at whatever it is you’re going to do. We have to overcome the inertia of our “old” way of doing things.
We have to form new habits, and this takes time. Depending on who you listen to, anywhere from 21 to 90 days to truly change a habit.
When’s the last time you did anything new consistently for 90 days? > Same here, NEVER.
Whatever you want to accomplish this year, it’s not going to just “happen” and I can guarantee that it’s going to be harder than you thought it was going to be – that’s just the way it always is.
Yes, it’s going to take some doing and we’re not going to get there as quickly as we like, but even small progress adds up over time.
How would it feel to earn an extra 10% this year and every year for the next 10 years? That works out to something like 235% increase in your income. Small changes add up!
Next thing you know, it’ll be you crossing that finish line.
What goals are you looking to achieve this year? What are you going to do differently to make sure they happen? Can you get out of your comfort zone? Get back up when you fall down and keep going?
Share your story in the comments below.