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Give it 30 days

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Do you have any big audacious goal you want to accomplish?

If you think back to Jan 1, 2016, what were your goals?

  • Lose weight/get in shape

  • Make more money/start budgeting

  • Learn a language

  • Learn a skill

  • Read more

  • Stop doing something (smoking, drinking)

Statistically, all of these efforts failed within the first few weeks of 2016.

I believe that May 16th, 2016, is a far better day for a SHORT exploratory period of a goal.

You won’t complete bad goals #

None of the items in the above list meet the criteria of a good goal. A good goal needs to be:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Assignable

  • Realistic

  • Time-related

(See the acronym those words make? SMART. heh)

A nice time-period for me is a month.

I can do something regularly for a month, and I am way more motivated to give it a good go than think to myself “well, today’s the first day of a new thing that I want to do, and I’m going to do it every day for the rest of my life.

(Easy example is right now I’m publishing something every day. For a month. I’m about half way through. No way I would be motivated to stick with this for a year, or the rest of my life)

Failure to keep a goal provides valuable insight #

If most Americans have a New Years resolution, you can be sure that most of those Americans then guilt themselves some time later about not actually completing the resolutions.

They shouldn’t. We have a powerful sense of inertia in our life, and this keeps us powering through the day-to-day without any major problems. It’s a good thing that we can’t rewrite our habits quickly or easily. It’s just also a frustrating thing.

Don’t be frustrated that your habit didn’t stick. Press into that frustration and dig into “why did the habit not stick?”. I’m of the opinion that habits only work if you make it really really easy to keep the habit, but this front-loads the effort of making a new habit, which is hard.

Plan on failing. Since failure provides information, don’t beat yourself up over it, just regroup, re-evaluate, and give it another go.

Time-boxing lets you (makes you?) decide where you want to be in a month #

I’ve been trying to learn French recently, and trying to improve my Spanish. It’s not plausible to do these simultaneously, and “improve my {language}” is a terrible goal.

So, today, I told my French-speaking language buddy I needed to postpone our next session by a month, so I could spend time on Spanish. Then, in a month, I’ll take a few days of a “break”, and move back into French mode.

This makes me feel very motivated to make progress in Spanish, because I’m “time boxed”, and once this month is through, it’ll be at least another six weeks before I practice my Spanish again.

So, I’m going to work on Spanish for 30 days. Coming soon is “How I find native Spanish speakers to practice with.” (It has nothing to do with being in a Spanish speaking country)