Over winter break, I discovered the drawstring on my favorite flannel pants had been pulled completely into one of the holes. This rendered the drawstring unusable and made the pants not fit properly.
This kicked off a frustrating, hours-long effort of using a safety pin to try and pull the drawstring back through the hole, before I realized the string was stuck in the waistband of the pants. That setback led me to look for a new solution: I fished a USB-C cable all the way through the pants, pulled the drawstring out, attached it to the cable with tape, then used the cable to pull the drawstring through both holes.
It worked, and it felt like a huge accomplishment after many hours of struggle.
Take this story as an analogy for your goals for 2024: progress often won’t actually feel like progress until suddenly it does.
Longtime readers of Friday Forward will recall I’m not a big fan of new year’s resolutions. There is a reason that gym parking lots are full in the first two weeks of January and then empty again by February.
However, some research says that the beginning of the year is one of the times where our motivation is naturally highest. That makes it a good time to set goals, recommit to best practices and set yourself up for a big year.
Over the years, I have developed several best practices for setting annual goals and wanted to share them:
- Don’t Be Busy: Make 2024 the year you stop answering every “how are you?” with “busy”. Being busy doesn’t mean you are productive or effective; often you’re just focusing too much on things that don’t matter.
- One Thing and Domino Effect: With goals, less is more. The past few years, I have developed a one-page plan of three or four high level goals for the year that are most important. Under each goal on the page, I list many different tactics that, if executed properly, should help me reach the goal, leveraging the domino effect. I review those goals and that one page each morning.
- Be Honest About Time: We all have the same 24 hours in a day; some of us are just better at focusing this time on what really matters. For example, if you converted 30 minutes of daily social media scrolling time into writing time over the next 90 days, that would add up to 2,700 minutes of writing time. That’s more than enough to write a few chapters of a book. Or, you could dedicate those same 2,700 minutes to another hobby, such as learning a new language. High achievers focus their energy on what is most important and do that first—they use their time well.
- Nail Your Morning: Getting the most out of a year requires getting the most out of each day. Perfecting a productive morning routine is the best way to do that. For a good template, check out Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning, which I’ve discussed in a previous Friday Forward and on my latest podcast episode.
- Get In Alignment: It’s crucial to ensure your daily actions are aligned to your big goals. I’ve created two tools that have been downloaded by over 1,000 people that help get people aligned to goals: the Whole Life Dashboard and the Goal Ladder. You can use either tool each morning as part of a morning routine to focus your energy correctly.
- Visualize Your Goals: As part of an annual tradition, we started off January 1 in my family by making family vision boards. A vision board is a great way to document your goals for the year and keep those objectives front of mind. I hang my vision board in my office every year to keep me focused, and each of my kids hang theirs in their bedrooms.
- Make A “Stop Doing” List: Achievement is not about doing more. For every new thing you add to your plate identify something you can stop doing. There are few categories of things to put on your Stop Doing List.
Last but not least: while the new year is a good time to look forward, it’s also valuable to look back. I saw this list of 10 questions that ButcherBox founder Mike Salguero shared and I made a point to start answering a few each day as part of my own morning routine this week.
I hope you take the next few days and weeks to focus your efforts on 2024. Start by moving from resolutions to actions and sustainable new habits.
This post originally appeared on Robert Glazer’s Friday Forward newsletter and is reprinted here with permission.
Contributed by Robert Glazer, a former EO Boston member who is the founder and chairman of the board of Acceleration Partners, a global partner marketing agency and the recipient of numerous industry and company culture awards. He is the author of the inspirational newsletter Friday Forward and No. 1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of five books: Elevate, Friday Forward, How To Thrive In The Virtual Workplace, Moving To Outcomes and Performance Partnerships. He is also the host of The Elevate Podcast.