Hellooooooo I’m back! Sorry for being away for so long (my previous post explains why), but I’m back and I’m so happy to see you. Gimme a hug!
(Okay Lionel, you need to calm down.)
We’ve got a lot to catch up on, but since it’s the New Year, let’s talk about how to kick ass this year. After all, it’s 2015, it’s Singapore’s 50th birthday, and we’re now closer to 2030 than we are to 2000. Ain’t that crazy?
This could be the year where you build your portfolio, get promoted, start your own business, get an IPPT Gold and become an overall awesome-r version of yourself.
And do you know how we can achieve all that?
By NOT setting resolutions.
Resolutions And Goals Are Stupid
Let’s take the example of Resolution Robert. Every New Year, he sits down and makes a list of resolutions, like:
- Exercise more
- Learn how to invest
- Start a business
- Eat less carbs for every meal
- Have amazing fashion sense like Lionel (ok, I made that up. Everyone knows I wear the same 5 shirts all the time)
Then when next year rolls around, Robert looks back and finds that he’s accomplished nothing, and he repeats his list for next year, and the following year, and the year after that!
We all know that resolutions don’t work. So why do we still keep making them?
Here’s Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, on why goals are stupid:
“Goals work great for simple situations. But the world is rarely simple these days. You don’t know what your career will look like in a year. You don’t know what the economy will be doing, or which new technologies will hit the scene. Your personal life is just as unpredictable. The future is a big ball of complexity if you look out far enough. And that means your odds of picking the one best goal for you are slim, and the odds of achieving it are even slimmer, because everything is a moving target.”
It’s not like Adams doesn’t care about achievements. If not, he wouldn’t have one of the world’s most beloved comic strips and dozens of businesses under his belt, including 2 failed restaurants, a food company, and a calendar app.
But he knows that roughly 9 out of 10 of his ideas won’t succeed, so he doesn’t let it hold him back. Side note: I highly recommend his book How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big (aff link).
Soooo with that in mind, let me propose the simple formula for doing epic shit this year:
Forget Goals; Do Projects Instead
I wouldn’t bother coming up with a list of 10 things to achieve this year. Heck, I usually can’t even plan out what I wanna have for lunch.
Instead, I prefer to just focus on the next project.
Whadayamean by project?
Why, I’m glad you asked. A project is an activity done within a defined period of time.
- Research one investing strategy for one month
- Train for IPPT Gold in 3 months
- Declutter my room until everything is in its proper place
- Write the first draft of my manuscript
There are several reasons why projects are way better than goals:
- Goals focus on results (which set you up for disappointment) while projects focus on the behaviour (which help you learn and test things out)
- Goals are abstract, while projects are concrete
- Goals could drag on indefinitely, while projects have a defined end-date
When I have a goal in mind, I live in a state of perpetual sadness because I keep thinking of what I haven’t achieved. When I was trying to lose weight, I kept weighing myself and going “Ugh – still 4kg away from my target weight”, and felt like a failure, even though I was making progress!
But when I have a project, I’m excited. I don’t know if it’ll work, but it doesn’t matter. I only know that I have to do that activity for the next 1,2,3 months. I also know that the result doesn’t matter – I’d have grown, learnt a ton, and enjoyed myself.
Better yet, I know that if I do enough projects, at least 1-2 of them will turn out to be winners.
- I choreographed 10 crappy performances in secondary school before I hit one that won the best item in a Scout campfire (yes, I realize how dorky this makes me sound)
- I started 3 other blogs which no one read before I started cheerfulegg.
- I spent months writing a personal finance book (which I never released because it sucked) before I launched Automatic Investing
I would have been seriously disappointed if I framed any of these as goals. But because I saw them as projects, I could focus on simply doing the next one and learning from it.
Do this for the next 10 minutes
This all sounds great. But let’s be honest – in 10 minutes, you’re going to continue checking your email, surf SGAG, and forget all about this.
But you’ve already invested your valuable time reading this article – you might as well get something out of it. So here’s what to do right now:
1. Think about ONE project that will make your life better
Pick one. No, really – just one.
There’s overwhelming research that people are bad at multitasking. If you really wanna accomplish your project, focus on just ONE at a time.
Examples of easy projects you could do in the next 1 month:
- Learn to cook 3 dishes
- Run 5km in 20 minutes
- Conceptualise an app
- List 20 items on Carousell
- Don’t eat carbs for 6 days a week
- Research ONE investing strategy
Remember: Focus on the BEHAVIOUR, not the RESULT.
2. Define a fixed timeframe for it
For your first project, make it no longer than a month. Why?
- It’s long enough to help you accomplish something worthwhile
- It’s short enough to prevent you from getting bored / wasting too much time if it sucks
Stephen King had this to say about keeping your timelines short:
“The first draft of a book – even a long one – should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”
Think about it – even something as epic as writing a book shouldn’t take you more than 3 months. Keeping your project timeframes short forces you to set boundaries and stay focused.
Annnnnd that’s it! That’s how you do epic shit for 2015.
Forget goals – start kicking ass right now, one project at a time.
What’s your next project?
P.S: If you’re trying to turn “learn investing” into a project, I’m releasing something reeeeaaalllyyyy soon that could help you out 🙂
Image credit: Zach Dischner