New Year’s Resolution Time… Again. You start a New Year fresh, but you’re still you, so how do you make actual changes that stick?
Everybody makes resolutions to change at the start of a New Year, but almost everybody breaks them…
Does it have to be this way?
Of course not!
Here’s how it goes wrong, and
No, you don’t have to wait for the start of a new year either, this works any month of the year!
The New Year Resolution Cycle
Everyone has some version or story of the resolution cycle, it usually goes something like this.
Shiny Idea – you have a great idea that will change your world.
You try it once, get excited
- 1 week later, tried it 4 times
- 2 weeks later, mostly didn’t do it
- 3 weeks later, feel guilty but you tell yourself “My New Year’s Resolutions don’t ever work”
- 1 year later… try again
The Problem with Resolutions
The usual problems include choosing a:
I will lose weight, I will exercise more, I will write more songs, I will write better songs, I will be happy
It sounds good but not what you really want: I will be famous, Everybody loves my songs, Everybody loves me
A great idea, but first I need to create several intermediate goals to build up to it. This goal is out of reach without breaking a goal into smaller steps or getting help.
There’s nothing wrong with a stretch goal that’s slightly out of reach but choosing a high goal without a plan only leads to frustration.
The Underlying Problem is…
The big problem is “change.”
We don’t really want to change… we say we do, we know we should change, yet we make excuses not to change. Or rather, we don’t change (much) and then rationalize why it didn’t work, usually blaming the resolution instead of admitting we didn’t do the work to change.
For the most part, today we’ll repeat the things we did yesterday and then do them again tomorrow…
Inertia keeps you doing what you are doing … Resistance keeps you from changing yourself and your behaviours.
You Can Change Yourself
You can keep your New Year’s Resolutions. It just takes a plan… here’s how…
The Solution for New Year’s Resolutions:
- Choose a Well Defined Goal
- Make a Plan
- Do the work with consistent practice
Choose wisely, choose a goal that will make you happy.
Be specific, if you can imagine accomplishing it you will find a way.
Many failed goals are vague. They don’t include a measurable result or are too ambitious without intermediate goals to build towards the big goal..
Sit down with a blank page or two and start writing things you want to do….
Review them, modify the best ideas, put some on your New Year’s Resolution short list.
A common problem is working on too many goals at once. Pick one or two goals… put some on your “go for it in two months list” and the rest on your bucket list!
Two Types of Goals
A specific achievement or final result.
Product Goal Examples
- Write a song every month,
- Record an album or EP,
- Get 1000 YouTube subscribers or Instagram followers.
An action that you repeat to achieve a product goal.
Process Goal Examples
- Work on songwriting for 30 minutes after supper every week day.
- Spend 3 hours a week recording tracks in the home studio
- Record a YouTube video each week for 6 months and regularly spend time on YouTube commenting on videos
- Spend 45 minutes a day posting interesting things and interacting with other people on Instagram
Pick Your Product Goal(s)
Trying to change too many things at once usually means failing all goals.
Start with one personal and one professional/musical goal.
Once you have steady progress on these two goals consider adding one new goal at a time.
To choose effective process goals start with there questions:
- How will you accomplish your product goal?
- What actions are necessary?
- What do you have to start doing?
- How often do I need to do these things? (hint: start with a small amount each day)
- What have I not been doing, that needs to get done?
Then do it, choose a regular daily minimum and work consistently.
After 3-4 weeks your habits can become automatic and self sustaining. Although there is conflicting research, the minimum is 21-30 repetitions to make a “permanent” change in behaviour.
My main instrument is saxophone, but I’d stopped playing regularly so a few years ago I decided to play my saxophone every day for a month. I eventually played every day for 14 months, missing only 2 days. I choose a process goal of playing my saxophone for a minimum of 5 minutes a day. I averaged 15-20 minutes a day. After two months I expanded the process goal to include playing my clarinet or flute. Once a process starts getting easy, you can adjust, expand or increase it.
To practice brainstorming, I choose to brainstorm at least a page every day for two months.
Later, I chose a different process goal. For two months I worked on songwriting. I choose to write 5 days a week, 20 minutes/day minimum. If I skipped a day, I added 30 minutes to the next day if I skip a day. Can’t skip 2 days in a row.
Start with an easy amount and repeat it… adjust your process rules to boost your improvement and keep yourself interested.
Do the Work
- Regular Practice, consistent effort creates momentum
- Be Thoughtful, reflect on your songwriting practice (and on life choices),
- Pay attention to what works, what doesn’t and be ready to change and improve your practice
- Connect with people who are already doing what you want to do
- Find an accountability partner… regularly updating a musical friend with your progress lights a fire under you.
New Year’s Resolution: Summary
There’s no magic bullet, no secret pill… but you can make an effective plan.
Start with a product goal and develop a process goal to get you there!