Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Now is about the time that most people start forgetting and giving up on their New Year's resolutions. I say, get out your list and let's refresh your motivation to get them done!

Hopefully you wrote down your resolutions. If not, get out a paper and pencil and write them down. Put it someplace you can check on it about once a month.

The important thing is, train yourself not to feel bad about the parts you haven't completed. Remember, you have a whole year to get them done! Take the first one from the list and write down the very next step you need to do to accomplish it. Do the same for the second one, third one, etc. These "next steps" must be simple, achievable actions you can take in a reasonable amount of time, say in 1 hour, or 1 day. For example, let's say your Resolutions are:
  1. Lose 20 pounds
  2. Stop complaining and being irritable
  3. Make $100 from a passive income web site
None of those 3 are actions, specifically, that you can do. Let's figure out the very next action you can do on each of these:

  1. exercise for 20 minutes with that new dancercise DVD I got for Christmas
  2. catch myself the next time I complain about something, try to stop it in time.
  3. write down that web site idea (from my head), research keyword demand & competition.
About exercise - you probably need to repeat it over and over, so scheduling a regular time of the week for it is a good idea. Maybe "exercise 20 minutes every Tuesday at 6PM" is a better next-step. Write it on your calendar, and make sure you really do it when it's time. Getting started is the hardest; once you've done it 4-5 Tuesday's in a row, your body will get used to the pattern and not complain so much. If you use an electronic calendar like the one in Outlook or Google Calendar, make it a "recurring" appointment.

About complaining - you trained yourself to complain and be irritated, originally. That means you can unlearn it as well. But it's work. The first few times you'll realize you just complained for the last 10 minutes and it's too late. But at least you remembered afterwards. Keep trying. You'll do the same thing 4-5 times in a row, and it will feel like you're not getting anywhere. Do Not Give Up! Soon you will catch yourself right at the end of a complaint-session, and you'll want to keep complaining because it feels right to you. Try to just stop it right then. Don't open your mouth or say another word for at least a minute. And stay conscious - don't let it start again 1 minute from now. Keep trying. Very soon you'll be able to stop it near the beginning, and soon after that, you'll catch yourself right when you were about to open your mouth - before it happens. It takes many tries to get to that point. What should you say, instead of complaining? Nothing. Your mind will be in complaint-mode, the best thing is to say nothing for a minute or two until your brain un-tangles and you can say something different without irritation.

About web sites - there are plenty of good ideas out there. Building the site is not the hard part; getting enough people to come to it and buy something is the important part. Because of that, research is vital before you even get started. For the same amount of work (building the web site) you can make lots of money, a little money, or no money at all. Which do you really want? Research is how you can predict this - you want to know how many people are searching for that thing, and how many other web sites (your competition) are trying to meet the same demand. Once you like what you see it's time to reserve the domain, pay for hosting and get started.

What Next?

That's fine for this week; but what about next? Next week, go back to your Resolutions list and write the new next-steps for each one again. You'll feel a sense of accomplishment already, because you began each one; you've made some progress; now it's time for the next step. Each week, or each month, go back to your list. Where are we at on each item? What's the next step? This is a highly effective way to complete any project - in your life, or at work.

The important thing is NEVER give up and NEVER feel bad about not accomplishing something. Don't think that you "failed": you just haven't done it yet. If you think you "failed", then you're giving yourself permission to stop working on it - that may relieve a little tension right now, but makes you feel the pain of failure for years to come. "not having done it yet" leaves the window open for future success. Think about it: If you didn't learn to ride a bike when you were 6, maybe you're going to learn it when you're 7. Or 8. Or 20. Or 30.

It's never too late.