How’s that resolution going?
January 17th was the most common day that people give up on their “New Year, New Me” goals. The day even has an official name: “Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day.”
Research shows that only 9% of people achieve their resolutions and 42% abandon ship by the end of January.
That “This is gonna be the year! I’m gonna (insert your resolution) …and have the willpower, determination, and discipline I’ve never had before!” dopamine hit can feel amazing. But how do you separate yourself from the masses and become part of the elite minority who actually succeeds?
First, let’s look at why most resolutions fail through one of the most important, fundamental FEARLESS principles: Tension is life.
Napoleon Hill interviewed more than 500 millionaires for his 1937 classic, Think and Grow Rich, and he found that every single one of them had one thing in common: They made decisions quickly and changed their minds slowly, if ever at all.
New year’s resolutions themselves are flawed because they amount to an excuse to do the opposite of what Hill found was so important in success – an excuse to avoid the tension of making a decision and taking action on it until an arbitrary date (January 1st). Then, as the tension rises – you get a reality check of what is required to accomplish – you avoid that tension by quickly changing your mind about how important or “realistic” the resolution is on a daily basis compared to the rest of your life. …Hello, cake! Goodbye gym, goodbye taking that side-hustle seriously, goodbye working on your confidence and dating life in a real way.
We need to talk about this relationship…
Most people don’t have a good relationship with tension, and society often teaches us that tension and stress is “bad,” unhealthy, and something to avoid at all costs.
But life is all about tension; you need tension to grow. If you’re at the gym every day but you don’t put enough tension (in the form of weight) on your muscles, you won’t get stronger or bigger.
Making important decisions and taking risks is facing tension, running into a burning building or towards another emergency to rescue people is tension…showing up when the pressure is on is tension, and those who are great with tension (firemen, police officers, athletes, successful businessmen, etc) are also usually the most attractive to women.
Your Beliefs About Stress Can Kill You – Literally
Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal has a great TED Talk on “How to make stress your friend” where she reverses advice on stress (a form of tension) that she’d been giving clients for a decade. McGonigal presents research that suggests that your beliefs about stress are the big factor in your health and mortality, NOT how much stress you experience.
Those in the study with the worst mortality rate experienced a lot of stress and believed stress was bad for you. People who experienced a lot of stress but didn’t believe it was harmful had the lowest chance of dying…even better than people who dealt with little stress! McGonigal even goes into evidence that your blood cells react to stress differently based on your beliefs.
So when that tension of prioritizing and making time, effort, and energy for your resolution hits, it’s time to start changing your relationship to tension and stepping right into it – instead of sidestepping it…even “just for today.”
Realize and start believing (watch the Ted Talk) that tension is the path to your growth, progress, success, confidence, long-term happiness, and health.
Get out of Survival Mode…and into Scheduling
A lot of people get into “survival mode” around their daily lives. Wake-up, get to work, come home, have dinner, sink into the couch and/or drinking at night and on weekends, repeat. Just trying to get through the days, weeks, and months.
You’ve got to get yourself out of survival mode and make those resolutions and goals a priority, bottom line. A real priority.
This is about living bigger, better, and happier, and that takes more than surviving.
How do you get out of survival mode? Schedule it! That’s how things get done. Schedule and block out regular, repeating blocks of time to work on your resolutions – put them in your calendar. Gym time, time to shop for and make healthy meals, time to work on your new idea and your education for a new income stream, time to go out and work on your confidence with women. Make weekly and daily appointments with yourself to build your FEARLESS Dream Life.
You choose how you spend your time – you’ll make time or you’ll make excuses.
Success or Failure Happens Little by Little
Two more crucial fundamentals here are Consistency and Compounding interest.
Jeff Olson’s The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness is a book I suggest to clients all the time because of its overlooked, powerful simplicity. Consistency is imperative to real change and growth that sticks, and the compounding interest that happens over your weeks, months, and years is unmeasurably huge.
In the scheme of things, scheduling and following through on manageable blocks (start small) of time for working on your resolutions is easy to do. But, as Olson says, it’s also easy not to do.
And you probably won’t see a big difference – if any at all – whether you work on your goals or not on any particular day. Your resolution probably won’t succeed or fail in a week, even.
But the compounding interest and consistency of all your daily decisions determines your success or failure. Skipping on…working on your side business, going out to practice meeting women, your daily meditation today when you don’t feel like it, makes it that much easier to skip again and again as you move towards failure. Doing it even when you’re tired or stressed makes the habit stronger and moves you closer and closer to success.
One day, you find you’ve succeeded or failed on your resolution, and it’s which side of compounding interest and consistency you’ve been on that determines the outcome.
Your little, seemingly insignificant, daily decisions and actions matter.
Surround Yourself with Resources for Success
Along with reading the book, create a habit of reading, listening to, or watching content that supports your development and your resolution.
That can help keep your head and your heart in the game. Both personal development material and content specific to your resolution (ie: business blogs and podcasts) are great – just don’t get addicted to consuming vs taking action, forming habits, and producing. (If listening is more your thing than reading, you can get a great audio version of The Slight Edge – it’s abridged but gets the job done and comes with a special, substantial forward read by Olson himself.)
I like using Habitica to track my daily habits and to-dos. It’s a free habit building and productivity role-playing game with rewards and punishments. Simple, easy, fun, and motivating! Trello is another highly-regarded free system for organizing and work through your tasks and projects.
Create Social and Financial Tension to Motivate You
Sometimes a little peer pressure and money on the line can really help you stay on the success side of consistency and compounding interest.
Using a free app like Buffer, you can schedule social media updates that will call you out for failing to stick to your resolutions. If, for example, you want to get up earlier, Buffer can be set to send out a message to your facebook friends or twitter followers calling you out and promising $5 to the first five people who respond if you’re not out of bed in time to cancel the post. (Schedule yourself enough time after your alarm goes off to cancel the post.)
“College Info Geek” blogger, Thomas Frank created a whole system to automate both the post and the punishment that you can read about, but one of my clients just payed people using Venmo. You could also use PayPal.
Another free tool some of my clients use in teams is Stickk, where you set your weekly goal and pledge an amount of money that they’ll charge you if you or your referee (someone you know and choose) say you failed to stick to your commitment. The money can go to charity or “Anti-charity” – a charity you don’t want to support, which is an interesting motivational twist. Stickk points out that financial stakes increase your chances of success by up to 3x, and a referee increases your chances by up to 2x.
Leave No Doubt About Your Success
What gets measured and tracked gets improved, and journaling can be incredibly impactful in a few different ways. But first, let’s establish something:
Is your resolution quantifiable, measurable, and specific? If not, I want you to refine it.
How will you know you’ve succeeded?
If your resolution is “be confident with women,” “start a business,” or “get healthy,” that’s a problem from two perspectives. First, those aren’t quantifiable. Second, because they’re not specific, your mind and lack of focus may lead you to a result that technically fulfills that resolution but isn’t what you were really looking for. Ie: you feel more confident with women but you’re not having successful dates, or you have an awesome website and an Instagram account with 20k followers for your new business, but you’re not making any money.
Be as specific as possible with your resolutions and goals: “Be dating a woman who I’m attracted to physically and emotionally by Thanksgiving,” or “Be earning $2k per month in passive income by December 1st.”
Another useful tip that can really help is to small chunk your way to your goals and resolutions. Have one measurable goal that you can manageably achieve in a few weeks or a month that plays into the larger resolution. Then accomplish step-by-step, month by month.
Journaling Isn’t just for Women
Now that you’ve made sure your resolution is specific and quantifiable, track your progress. It will keep you focused, feeling good emotionally, and driven about what you’re doing and where you’re going.
Emotional, experiential, and thought journaling can also make a big difference in your success. I encourage all clients to keep a “gains journal.” It can be similar to tracking but can be more flexible to keep track of anything and everything you feel like you’re getting out of your journey.
The gains journal is about lessons you are learning and also to keep track of all your wins, tiny and huge.
What’s Your Why?
Where are your resolutions coming from?
If the answer is, “It’s a new year, and I should ___,” or worse, “I HAVE to,” that’s a recipe for ending up in the 91% of people whose resolutions fail.
You can be in avoidance, have to, want to, or choose to around your resolution. Avoidance obviously means you’re not getting anything done. “Have to” is forcing yourself to do something – and how long will that will power last? For the sake of brevity, “want to,” is more positive, but when you’re in “choose to” that’s much more of a decisive, unstoppable state of mind. (I have another blog post coming out soon that goes more in-depth on these states of mind.)
Get into “Choose to,” as much as you can around your goals and daily tasks and habits that support the resolution. Get your head and your heart into alignment with the resolution, and all the decisions and actions that support it.
And have a powerful, emotionally meaningful “why this is important to me” and review it daily.
Love Your Way to Success
It also boils down to loving yourself and your daily life. Can you slow down your mind for a moment, FEEL love for yourself, and find enjoyment in even the mundane tasks you’re doing?
If you love yourself right where you’re at and you love the daily journey of your resolution, that makes it that much easier to move forward, and with higher and faster degrees of success.
You’re Always Steering
Finally, remember that another FEARLESS fundamental is that success is all about course correction. When you’re driving down the freeway, you’re actually making constant, tiny course corrections to stay in your lane – it’s never truly a straight line to your destination.
So when you take a wrong turn, just get back on the right route.
You’re perfectly imperfect – don’t fall into the trap of “all or nothing,” whether it’s course-correcting a detour from your resolution or taking imperfect, partial action. Do what you can even when you’re sick or dealing with personal challenges, and then keep on course correcting. Something is always better than nothing.
This is a lot because I really want you to have plenty of tools to succeed. But if you schedule, work on your relationship to tension, and use just one or two of these other tools or teachings, you’ll be well on your way to being part of the 9% realizing their resolutions and more of their FEARLESS Dream Life.
And don’t wait for December to make new “resolutions” after you achieve your current ones. Goals should be part of your monthly, weekly, and daily life.
Lastly, consider joining me at my next “The Fearless Man Live” seminar! For two days, we’ll dive deep getting good with tension, confidence, fear, women, sex, success, and more. The focus of this event is on confidence, masculinity, and dating, but it’s really about who you’re being as a man throughout your life. And in the evenings, you’ll have a group of like-minded men and some of our coaches to take you out and get you practicing, pushing your boundaries, and progressing right away. Tickets are very affordable. Check out the event now.