The holiday season is over, and a brand new year has started. What’s on your mind as you kick off the new year?
Perhaps you want to do achieve something more this year, but just don’t know where to start. Or, perhaps you are wondering if you’ll finally be able to finally see through your New Year resolutions this time. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s common for people to start the new year full of zest and conviction, but find their initial enthusiasm fizzling out within weeks, or even days, as the day-to-day grind and old habits kick in. [Read more about the Power of Habit here]
Well, here are 3 things you can apply to any area of your life, to make a real difference this year. They are simple, practical, and impactful. Even if you slip up along the way, just forgive yourself, and resume the practice. The key is to commit to do at least 1 of the 3; and if you can, progressively add in the other 2, until all 3 form part of your daily habits.
Here we go!
1. ASK QUESTIONS (in place of statements or even affirmations)
Instead of statements like “Work is so hectic”, try asking, “How can I make work more manageable?”. Instead of sentences and affirmations like, “I will lose 5 kg this year” or “I feel good at 80kg”, reframe them into questions like “How can I lose 5kg this year?”. Because questions trigger your mind to go into solutions-mode, and remove the negative feelings like guilt, fear, doubt that get in your way when you use statements.
Keep asking new questions until the most actionable piece emerges. For example, you may start with “How can I adopt the habit of asking good questions?”, and the answer is “I need a constant reminder.” Then, ask, “How can I have a constant reminder to ask good questions?” and you may have, “get a ‘question buddy'”, “set a regular reminder on my phone”, or “put a note next to my mirror”… Keep asking questions until you have a concrete, actionable solution in front of you. Then do it.
2. KEEP A JOURNAL
If you pay attention to any situation or problem in your life, answers are likely to emerge. In fact, you probably have tons of ideas and inspiration coming to you each day that you aren’t even pausing to consider, much less take action on.
If lack of time is a problem for you, start tracking your time-use for a week, and make a note of any questions, frustrations, goals, and internal-conversations that emerge on time. If money is a concern, start tracking every cent you spend, and your conversations, questions, doubts, hopes and worries about money. If relationships are an issue, start tracking the words, images, feelings and associations that emerge during happy vs unhappy moments. When you pay attention – putting aside blame and judgement – insightful patterns (and by extension, answers and solutions) can emerge.
Or, take a fun approach to journalling, like what renowned genius Da Vinci does as a key habit. Be curious about everything around you, and make a note of your observations, questions, feelings, sensations, theories, reflections…. Get more ideas from this article.
3. Review with the Pareto Principle
Most of us would have heard of the Pareto Principle, or the 80-20 rule. The idea is simple – eliminate 20% of “stuff” that creates 80% of problems and frustrations, and focus on the 20% that creates 80% of your desired results and happiness.
Yet, how many of us actually apply it?
Obviously, it’s easier to identify the 20% if you’re already aware of how you’re spending your time/ money/ energy etc. That’s why the earlier 2 habits, especially journalling and tracking, lay a good foundation for this 3rd practice. Systematically focus on your top 20% and eliminate your bottom 20%.
But, don’t wait till you have perfect information. You can start applying this powerful lens to any area of your life, immediately. At your next meeting, weekly/ monthly review, or major decision-point, ask questions like, “If I (we) had only 20% of time/ resources/ energy, what would ( (we) use it on?”. Learn more about the Pareto Principle from The 80/20 Principle summary, get more tips/ideas under the “Elimination” segment of the 4-Hour Workweek, try using the ultimate focusing question from The One Thing:
Ready to up the game? After you’ve selected the 1 habit above to start with, leave a comment below with your commitment for the new year. Let us become your accountability buddy (yes, we’re doing to check in on you to see if you followed through). Or, share this article with your commitment on social media and let your friends and colleagues support or even join you in these new habits!
It’s a brand new year. Make it count!