Beginnings, Systems, and Habits, Not Resolutions

January 7, 2018

Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.
—  attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

You can’t go wrong starting with a Goethe quote, can you? (Except, it appears not to be from him.)

Still, the sentiment holds. Welcome to 2018, a year in which I can promise you that all kinds of stuff will happen that will be outside your control, and which you’ll care about a lot, or you won’t, but there won’t be much you can do about it.

Good, we got that out of the way.

Let’s talk about things we *can* control. Let’s talk about beginnings.

I mentioned last time that I’m one of those whose not a big fan of new year’s resolutions (wait, we’re already a week into the new year, am I still allowed to talk about them, or do I have to wait until next December?). Instead, I’m a fan of systems and habits that help you achieve what you want to achieve. Want to lose weight or save more or write more words or whatever, think about systems and habits that will lead you to that. What would setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier every day help you do? What would parking further away, closing your Apple Watch rings, or setting up an automated debit nudge you toward?

Also, it’s important you don’t fall in love with the search for the perfect tool. If you’re doing the equivalent of being the writer trying out a hundred word processors instead of writing, then you’re doing it wrong. People (*cough* like me *cough*) who like tech, especially, fall prey to this. Get on with reinforcing the habit or strengthening the system or doing the work.

Here’s an example from my world: shutting down social media. When I’m writing and trying to be otherwise productive, I close down the Book of Face and the fiery hellhole of Twitter, and ignore (or turn off) their notifications. Some people have success by limiting the social media apps to one device (like a phone or an iPad), but for me, shutting them down works. Also, I relegate Wastebook to its own browser (I’m mainly a Safari user, so FB lives in Chrome, which I think also limits its ability to track non-FB activity, but I won’t swear to that in court.) So, what’s my system and habit? Shut ‘er down.

Finally, you have my permission (not, though, like you need it) to screw up, so long as you do better the next day. Did you eat the donut? Miss your word count? Watch Jane the Virgin instead of going to the gym? Not to worry. Tomorrow (or later today) is another day.

So, over to  you. What system or habit can you put in place to ring in the new year and help you say next December, “Well, that was worth doing.”?

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