With the New Year here, many are setting out to change their lives. As ubiquitous as New Years resolutions are, they almost universally fail.
There are at least three approaches to New Year’s Resolutions. Some better than others depending on what you hope to accomplish.
Most people confuse a goal with an intention. For instance “I’d like to lose weight” is an intention. “I will loose 10 pounds by eating 2 healthy meals a day for the next 60 days” is a goal. Use the tried and true framework “SMART” to help you articulate a goal you can succeed at:
Unlike a goal, a habit is a change of lifestyle. Examples of habits include “exercise daily” and “never check email before 9am.” The best way to learn a new habit it to subvert an existing one.
In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg, talks about how he broke his mid-morning cookie habit. He realized that what he enjoyed was not the chewy chocolate chips, but the opportunity to move around and socialize. He replaced his cookie break with a short time to walk around the office and socialize. The cookie was hardly missed, and he even lost a little weight.
We all have abilities we’d like to attain, like speaking a foreign language, learning to paint or write code. While mastering a skill may take 10,000 hours, basic competence can be achieved in only 20 hours.
According to Josh Kaufman,
[Rapid skill acquisition is] a way of breaking down the skill you’re trying to acquire into the smallest possible parts, identifying which of those parts are most important, then deliberately practicing those elements first.
The amount of time it will take you to acquire a new skill is mostly a matter of how much concentrated time you’re willing to invest in deliberate practice and smart experimentation and how good you need to become to perform at the level you desire.
Kaufman’s 10 Principles of Rapid Skill Acquisition are:
- Choose a lovable project.
- Focus energy on one skill at a time.
- Define your target performance level.
- Deconstruct the skill into sub-skills.
- Obtain critical tools.
- Eliminate barriers to practice.
- Make dedicated time for practice.
- Create fast feedback loops.
- Practice by the clock in short bursts.
- Emphasize quantity and speed.
How do you want to change in 2014?