This post was written by Leo Babauta, originally for Zen Habits. Republished here with permission.
With every year, comes renewed optimism. And while I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions that you’re just going to toss aside when things get busy, I am a fan of creating new habits. Here are 5 ideas to create an amazing year, regardless of what month you get started in.
5 Ideas to Create an Amazing Year
There isn’t any magic involved — you have to do the hard work. But if you’re committed to gradual change, you can change your habits completely over time.
If you want to continue this year with renewed vigor, here are some ideas to help you get there.
Ideas for an Awesome Year
If you follow these ideas for the next year, I think you’ll create something truly amazing:
Create habits, not goals or resolutions. Resolutions are like wishful thinking, that fade away inevitably as the year’s newness wears off. Goals are great, but it’s hard to juggle 5-10 new goals when you have a lot of other things always going on. Instead, focus on one new habit at a time, and give it your full attention, until it becomes automatic. Then do another new habit. After a year, you could have 12 new habits, and you’ll be a lot closer to any goals you might have wanted to reach.
Be all in. Most people fail at their resolutions because they write them down, start taking action, and then let themselves quit when things get hard. But what if you committed to doing the habit of meditation in January, or you’d have to give up your favorite food for a year? What if you had to pay $10,000 if you missed two straight days of meditation? Would you stick to the habit then? Of course you would — because you’d be fully committed. Find a way to be all in, and you’ll make your habits stick.
Focus on weekly adaptations. Most people try to focus on something that will take a year to achieve, but you lose motivation, and what if things change during that year? Instead, focus on one week at a time. That’s a doable chunk of time — you can do a week at a time, but you can’t really do a year at a time. And each week, see how you can adapt what you’re doing so that your method gets better and better over time. Review how you did, find the obstacles, and plan around them for the next week.
Find your crew. You can do great things on your own, but you’re much more likely to get them done if you have a group of friends who are holding you accountable, and who you’re holding accountable too. Hold each others’ feet to the fire. Root each other on. Hold regular meetings to make sure everyone is staying on track, and don’t let your crew fall off track.
Fill your year with curiosity and a learning stance. Many people get discouraged if they fall off their goals or habits, but that’s because they have an all-or-nothing mindset. They see failure as evidence that they can’t do it. Far from it: failure is evidence that things need adjusting. It’s a way to learn, so that you can get better. Be curious about what will work for you, about what this new habit will be like (instead of having a preconceived idea), and about what happens when you make adjustments. See all your successes and failures as learning, not a sign that you are good or not good. With this flexible mindset, you’ll be able to weather out any kinds of disruptions, missteps, obstacles or changes.
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