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Making Your Resolutions Stick

Published 1/1/2016

Happy New Year! In today's episode, I talk about resolutions. It's 2016, and you're probably making resolutions for the New Year. Listen to this episode if you want to make them stick.

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Today's episode is sponsored by OneMonth.com! Go to onemonth.com/developertea to get 25% your first month today!

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and today I'm going to be talking to you about how to make your resolutions stick. Thank you to today's sponsor 1month.com. We are kicking off the brand new year with 1month.com as our sponsor. It's appropriate that 1 month is the first sponsor of the year because that was true for last year as well. 1month was the first sponsor for Developer Tea. Thank you again to 1month for sponsoring the show for so long. If you are looking for a learning resource as a digital entrepreneur, definitely check out 1month.com. We will talk more about what 1month has to offer to you as an entrepreneur later on in today's episode. But I want to jump straight into talking about making resolution stick. Most of you probably celebrate the new year. We probably celebrate January 1st and a lot of us make resolutions around this time of year. We start thinking about the new year. Resolutions are definitely a trendy thing to do. If we decorate for Christmas with a Christmas tree or for Hanukkah with a menorah, the new year is decorated with black eyed peas and resolutions. In today's episode we're going to talk about resolutions. The new year is a psychological reset. We take a short sabbatical by having a few days off from work. Typically we have some time to reflect. Budgets are reset, even the small change of writing 2016 instead of 2015 forces our minds into a new context for the new year. And when we change context, we're more likely to adopt behavioral change as well. A colleague of mine mentioned this recently. His wife is a teacher and her entire focus is on creating systems for education for elementary aged students. People are most likely to adopt new behaviors if they are placed in new scenarios, new context. This is one of the reasons why she told us one of the reasons why when a student is found to have behavioral issues in a classroom, the student is often removed from that classroom and placed in a different environment. And at that moment they are given new rules, they are given new behaviors to follow. And this is shown to be an effective solution to changing that child's behavior. And in many ways that's exactly what a resolution is for yourself. You're kind of creating a new rule or a new norm for yourself. So with that said, making resolution stick is still kind of difficult because change is very hard to accomplish, change is very difficult to bring into your life. People tend to stay the same most of the time. In this episode we'll discuss ways to adopt your resolutions and to stick to them. And we're going to jump straight in. I've got six different ways. We're going to go through three. We're going to talk about one month, the sponsor, and then we're going to go through the other three. The first one is set a resolution with a specific goal. You want to make the goal you set a variant of a range rather than a static solitary figure or a specific number. If your goal is, for example, to lose weight, then you want to set a target weight and create a range for yourself that starts below that target weight and goes above that target weight. The reason for this is because quite simply research has shown that people are better at hitting ranges than they are at hitting specific goals. It is much easier for you, for example, to think about working between 35 and 45 hours a week than to think about hitting an exact 40 hours per week. The idea here is that you have a range that is both challenging and attainable. In fact, that's an exact quote from a Harvard Business Review article that I will include in the show notes. The idea is to create a range that is both challenging at the high end of that range and attainable at the low end of that range. If you hit the middle of the range, then all you're doing is creating a compromised value between the challenging overachieving goal point at the high end and the minimum viable at the bottom end of that range. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, then you may want to set a goal of losing between 15 and 25 pounds. The most important part of setting this range is number one, making sure that the low end of the range is the minimum attainable and the minimum viable number or minimum viable goal point. And then the maximum side of that range being actually possible. You don't want to set a maximum so high that it's actually impossible to achieve. The reason you want to make your goal specific rather than general, for example, you wouldn't want to create a goal like lose some weight. Instead, having a very specific determining factor of whether or not you have met that goal that is absolutely essential to goal setting. If you don't have a specific goal to shoot for, then you don't have a way of understanding when you have succeeded and perhaps more importantly, when you have failed. A goal without specificity is actually just an ideal. And if you want your resolutions to be about progress and about change, then you will turn your ideals into specific goals. Okay, so number two, use the most proven psychological reinforcement, positive incentive to help you achieve your goal. We won't spend a lot of time on this, but the most important thing to understand here is that positive incentives are incredibly important when you want to change behavior, whether that is your own behavior or the behavior of others. And there's many different types of positive incentives. For example, if you have a resolution to read more books, then perhaps every book you read, once you finished it, you give yourself the permission to go and buy an Xbox game. By giving yourself the reward system and by establishing it without any flexibility, you're creating a mental connection. Even if you are completely cognizant of that connection, it still has been shown to work. That positive incentives are incredibly powerful, even if they are constructed. It also helps to have an accountability partner or somebody who knows what your goal is. And that's exactly what number three talks about. Tell someone about your goal, but don't tell them too much. Tell someone about your goal, but don't tell them too much. The reason that you want to tell someone about your goal is because that creates social accountability, which is basically the pressure to follow through with the things that you say you're going to do to your friends. The reason that we want to do this is because we don't want to look like we are weak. We don't want to look like we are inconsistent or that we lie. This is very important in a social setting. When we say we want to do something or we say we are something to another person, we are much more likely to achieve that particular goal. Now, the reason you don't want to tell them too much is because telling someone about your goal, telling someone about the thing that you have realized that you want to change in yourself, that can also psychologically trigger some of the same releases that accomplishment triggers, that accomplishing your actual goal would trigger. This is also visible when you see a lot of people at the beginning of the new year who want to be more physically active and they go and they buy a gym membership. Even though buying that gym membership didn't necessarily make them more active, that simple action that stepped towards their goal gave them that sense of release, that sense of accomplishment that they actually really haven't earned. You have to be careful about doing things that give you a sense of accomplishment before you've actually taken steps towards your goal. This goes back to the number one tip that I gave you today, which is set a resolution with a specific goal within a given range. This will show you, hey, just because you bought that gym membership or just because you told your friend that you want to read more books, that doesn't mean that you've actually taken any steps towards making that happen. Instead, you actually have to go to the gym to be more active. You can't just buy the membership, you also have to follow through and get up and go to the gym. So a quick recap, number one, set a resolution with a specific goal that goal should be a range rather than a solitary figure. Number two, use the most proven psychological reinforcement, positive incentives to help you achieve your goal. And number three, tell someone about your goal, but don't tell them too much. Now I want to take a quick break to talk about today's sponsor, onemonth.com. I already mentioned that one month was the very first sponsor for Developer Teaat the beginning of the year last year. And they are the first sponsor for this year as well. Onemonth.com can help you become a tech entrepreneur. It's not about getting a degree. It's about applied learning 15 minutes today from the comfort of your own home. You can learn skills like programming for non programmers, growth hacking, iOS development with Swift, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, content marketing, Ruby on Rails or Python and plenty more. If you have an idea for an app or a product and you've been trying to find a place to gain the practical skills to make that product a reality, then enroll now at onemonth.com slash Developer Tea and you will get 25% off your first month just for being a Developer Tealistener. Again, it's one month, 15 minutes a day from the comfort of your own home. Onemonth.com slash Developer Tea and as always you can find that link in the show notes at spec.fm. Thank you again to onemonth.com. So let's get right back into talking about setting your resolutions and making them stick. We've already talked about setting specific goals, not talking too much about those goals, being sure that you don't create that psychological release before you've actually done anything to accomplish those goals and of course providing yourself with positive incentives. Now I want to talk to you about how you follow up with your resolutions. So the fourth tip I have for you today is to set an automatic reminder for the beginning of February and March to review your progress on your resolutions. As the truth is, resolutions often stay strong throughout January but by February and March people tend to fall off the map because we aren't thinking about the word resolution except around the beginning of January. This is why you see a ton of people at the gym in the beginning of January but as the spring rolls through you're going to see fewer people. So when you have that reminder set to review your resolutions in February and March now you have that reminder that isn't necessarily coming from the culture around you but rather it's coming from yourself. You're reminding yourself to go back and review your resolutions, review your progress to that range goal that you've already set. Of course you can set a reminder in just about any to-do app these days. iOS has the built-in reminders. I assume Android has something similar as well. So just set a reminder in one of the many systems that you probably already use to review your resolutions. Of course that requires that you have your resolutions taken down so when you set your resolution make sure you write it down. Make sure you have some sort of way of knowing exactly what that resolution was. And that goes along with tip number five and that is formalize your resolution. Formalize your resolution. Make it an event. Start with some kind of kickoff where the changing moment was that you committed to your resolve that that moment is marked that you remember that moment whether it's on a calendar somewhere or maybe you just create a video of yourself talking about the resolution for you to watch at the beginning of February or at the beginning of March. There are many ways that you can formalize your resolution. Some of it kind of depends on what your resolution is. But the most important piece of formalizing is making it concrete, making it tangible. Making that you have created a resolution not just that you have some lofty goal that you're not really sure what it is. Making it concrete, making it visible, verbalizing or writing it down in some way. That is kind of the definition of formalizing it. Making it a true commitment that you can see in front of you. Now my final tip for the day to making your resolution stick is to determine in some way how your resolution actually plays out day to day. It is easy to make a resolution and feel accomplished without actually doing anything. Like we talked about going to the gym and getting a membership doesn't actually make you more fit. But for progress to be made, it is important that on a given day you know whether or not you have taken a step towards your resolution or if you have failed to take a step towards your resolution. Like your progress towards your goals or else your goals will change from concrete and measurable to idealistic and impossible. Determine how your resolution actually plays out day to day. If you want to lose 20 pounds in one month, you can do the math to determine about how much you need to lose each day for 30 days. And that is how you make your idealistic resolutions more concrete. You start looking at them at a day to day level. If you want to read a 500 page book in 365 days, you have to read more than one page per day on average or else you have to have a bunch of binge reading sessions. If you go a few days without reading, you have to catch up. And the only way to actually accomplish large resolutions is one piece at a time. You only have one day at a time to be able to accomplish these things. To make sure you start looking at them at that day to day level, not just at that large idealistic level. So let's recap the six tips for making your resolution stick in 2016. Number one, set a resolution with a specific goal that has a range from the minimum viable all the way up to the ultra overachiever. Number two, use the most proven psychological reinforcement, positive incentives to help you achieve your goal. Number three, tell someone about your goal, but don't tell them too much. Otherwise you may feel that same psychological trigger as actually accomplishing that goal. Number four, set an automatic reminder for the beginning of February and March. And perhaps beyond that to review your progress on your resolutions. Number five, formalize your resolution, make it concrete, create an event out of the beginning of that resolution. And number six, determine how your resolution actually plays out on a day to day level. I hope for each of my listeners that you create some daring and exciting resolutions this year that the work and the play that you do this year is the best that you've ever had. I'm excited for the year and I hope you are too. Thank you so much for listening to this show. And thank you to today's sponsor onemonth.com. Of course, if you are a tech entrepreneur and you're looking for a practical learning resource that you can consume from your couch, go to onemonth.com slash Developer Tea. Of course, you get 25% off. That link and every other link from today's episode will be in the show notes at spec.fm. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Happy new year. And until next time, enjoy your tea.