Start Your New Year's Resolutions In December

Forget Goals. If You Want to Succeed, You've Got To Prepare

11.28.16

There you go. There's some of my best advice, right there in the title and subtitle. If you want to stop right here and just go and execute on that advice, go nuts. I won't hold it against you. Get started.

In the rest of our time together, I'll explain why I'm giving that advice, so you'll understand that I'm not just putting words into neat sentences to make myself seem smart.

I'm not a believer in New Year's resolutions. For that matter, I'm not a huge fan of locking into any goal and putting blinders on to get there. Yeah, I know, you hear this kind of thing all the time -- in sports in relation to championships, in academics while striving towards a big test, in the workplace barreling forward to the end of the quarter or the fiscal year.

But this advice is not for you, it's for the drones.

A good coach tells his or her players to march forward with blinders and earmuffs and keep chopping and grinding and all sorts of cliched useless platitudes while keeping eyes on the prize with one heartbeat to shock the world.

But the coach is not marching to those orders. The coach is constantly monitoring and reassessing and changing the game plan based on perpetually incoming new information.

The coach knows there's no direct route from the beginning of the season to the championship. The coach is working his or her butt off to lay new path just ahead of the team and building walls on either side, while telling them that this path was there the whole time and they should just focus on that newly laid piece of path that he or she just put down.

In life, you're not the player. You're the coach.

Which is also the reason I tend to discredit life coaches.

I've also been told my lack of belief in the strict goal is unconventional. It's not. So I'll explain that one too.

Goals are a great way to fail, because for the most part they're meaningless and arbitrary. And this is not your fault for setting goals that are too vague, it's by design.

Your goals actually aren't vague enough.

In life, you don't have goals, you have minimums. You have to pull down a certain amount of money to afford your lifestyle, you have to exude a modicum of health effort so you don't die, you have to shower once a day.

There's a good goal, shower every day.

But what are you really trying to accomplish?

My goal as an entrepreneur isn't to make a million dollars or get my face in a TechCrunch article. It's to be happy when I wake up every morning. There's my goal. The numeric representation of that doesn't fit into a neat equation, and it's hard to break down for 2017.

Again, I have minimums, I'll need to make $X and I'll need to deliver Y units. But if I'm going to arbitrarily increase X and Y and call them goals for 2017, ignoring all sorts of unseen factors and external stimuli along the way, why would I use X = $100,000? Why wouldn't I put X at a million? Or 10 million?

I'm going to be working 110% the entire way, regardless of X. So shoot for the freaking moon.

Is it that I need to tell someone (the word "investor" is ringing in my head here) that my goal for 2017 is to do $1 million in revenue? Is that my target? Is it my minimum? Because that's important. But that minimum number isn't super impressive, so I don't walk around touting that.

Yesterday, November 26th, I started running and dieting and taking vitamins and all of those things that are going to help me drop a few pounds in 2017. And this morning, I'm assessing where all that got me. I already lost a half a pound. Yay for me!

But losing weight is not my New Year's resolution. Because it's stupid, and I'll fail.

Instead, my New Year's resolution is to feel awesome, every day. That's my goal. I'm shooting for the moon here.

I'll take December to figure out what that means, physically, and how to get there. Then, by January 1, I'll have figured out how to shift my lifestyle to accommodate that. I won't quit three weeks or three days or three months into my resolution.

And honestly, when's the last time you checked off a completed New Year's resolution in March or June? We fail because we're human and we forget because we lost the championship and there's always next year.

This year, be the coach. Keep laying that new path with each new bit of information, each disappointment, each failure.

Hopefully you read this in December. But if not, no worries. Make 30 days from now your January 1 and remember this -- The coach doesn't just show up for pre-season training. The coach's job is year-round, with plenty of preparation and game-planning before the players arrive.

Be the coach of your own life. And get started now.
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