2019 is a New Year. Or is it?

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The new year begins at one minute past midnight on January 1. That’s just on the calendar.

Your 2019 will be a whole lot like your 2018 unless you make specific changes. Resolutions are not enough. Hope won’t do the trick. Miracles happen, but you can’t plan for them.

Meaningful change starts with two things. You should review your life right now and decide what you want to be better. Then you need to decide what behavior you want to change.

What’s Your Life Like Right Now?

A different 2019 starts with a look at your life today. You can find detailed processes for reviewing your life in books like How Will You Measure Your Life? If you need an extensive process, go for it. If not, I suggest a simpler process. Ask yourself a few important questions.

What’s your quality of life right now? Goals and targets for achievement are important, but I think you should start with a basic sense of whether you have a quality life. Are you healthy? Do you get enough sleep and exercise? You don’t need a wellness expert to help you. You know whether you feel good and if you’re getting enough sleep.

How much are you working? My research and life experience both tell me you can be both productive and happy up to about a 60-hour workweek. Beyond that, you get both less happy and less productive.

Do you have space in your life? If I realize that I’m overscheduling when I have trouble finding time for a coffee for a friend or talking with a grandchild

Are you getting the most important things done? You may have a formal goal system that helps you assess this, but just like with general wellbeing, you know how you’re doing. If you’re in doubt, check through your checkbook and comb through your calendar. They will tell you what you’re spending your time and money on.

What do you want to change?

If you take the time to determine how your life is now, you’ll also notice the gaps between the life you want and the life you’re living. Next year, do things differently if you want to change your life.

Start by deciding what you will not do anymore. If you don’t start with this, you won’t have the time to put other things in or leave space in your calendar. Don‘t cut back by looking for ways to snip 15 minutes here and there off your work. Look for big things you can stop doing without changing your productivity very much. Then stop them. You’ll gain time for other things. Remember that saying no to something means you can say yes to something else.

Once you’ve made the big “What will I stop doing?” choices, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will I do less of?
  • What will I do more of?
  • What will I do differently?
  • What new things will I do?

Temporal Landmarks and You

The new year is something that the people who’ve studied these things call a “temporal landmark.” A temporal landmark like New Year can give you a nudge to change, but you don’t have to be a slave to the landmark.

You don’t have to finish your analysis and make your changes before the sun sets on January 1. Take as long as you need. If you procrastinate or make little progress, set a deadline.

You don’t have to do this once a year on New Year’s. I do this kind of analysis twice a year, once in the space between Christmas and New Year’s and again around the 4th of July.

Making Those Changes

Analyzing and deciding are not enough. You must make the changes you want to make. Two books that will help you are Heidi Grant-Halvorson’s Succeed and Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness.

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