It's the time of year when we're thinking about our New Year's Resolutions, which for many of us can end up being a long list of items that by January 15 have gone out the door.
I'm no exception.
The planning I did a few weeks ago with my mastermind group led to a long laundry list of things I needed to work on, which already feels overwhelming to me and I haven't even started!
We know that multi-tasking doesn't work. We also know that when we're in choice overload, we tend to give up and stick with what we've been doing. Too many little decisions and we feel like giving up. Knowing this, having a long list of resolutions seems foolish.
And in truth, not everything we think about changing will have the same impact. Some changes will give us more bang for our buck than others.
Peter Bregman writes about this in To Change Effectively, Change Just One Thing:
Typically, people overwhelm themselves with tasks in their eagerness to make a change successfully. But that’s a mistake. Instead, they should take the time up front to figure out the one and only thing that will have the highest impact and then focus 100% of their effort on that one thing. (My emphasis)
In thinking about your resolutions for the New Year, think about that one area of your life that could have the most impact:
- Is it your physical health?
- Your career?
- Your relationships with friends and family?
- Your spirituality?
- Your creativity?
What is that ONE area that if you focused on it, you could see the most payoff for your effort?
Once you've identified that area, now think of ONE thing you could do differently. What is that single high-payoff change?
To make that change feel even more do-able, treat it as a month-long experiment. Don't make your resolution for 2016. Make your resolution for January 2016.
See what happens when you stick with it for 31 days. What impacts do you see?
You can re-evaluate at the end of the month to see if it's a change you want to stick with or if you want to try something else.
Your change also needs to be specific and concrete--"lose weight" or "improve myself" isn't an action that you can take. They still leave too much room for choice and ambiguity.
"Eat 1200 calories a day," or "Read 2 books a month" --those are concrete actions.
For me, January is going to be a month when I give up sugar. I love dessert and all things sweet and I think that if I can eliminate or at least reduce it in my diet, it will help me feel better physically, which will benefit me in all other areas of my life.