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Setting the System for 2014

I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I dislike using the turn of the year as some kind of magical starting point. It encourages delaying changes you know need to be made so that they synch with this now fetishized date, and results in each December 31st being a time when you’re focusing on all the things you failed to accomplish. (Sure, that’s a pessimistic view, but it’s also realistic . . . more endeavors fail than succeed.)

I prefer to start working toward goals as soon as I realize I desire them AND have done the necessary preparations to give the effort a reasonably good chance at success. Of course, sometimes these goals coincidentally make themselves clear to me as the New Year holiday approaches, and in those cases I’m not so hidebound as to avoid kicking them off BECAUSE of the cultural fixation with the date … but even when I do, you’ll almost NEVER find me CALLING these changes “New Year’s Resolutions.”

As it turns out, somewhere around the middle of December 2013 a handful of desires, hopes, and practicalities led me to realize that there were some goals I’d like to achieve that were either entirely new, or were existent but not making any significant progress. So I began thinking about what goals I’d prioritize and how I’d go about achieving them. Somewhere in the run-up to New Year’s Eve, though, my social media feeds pointed me to James Clear’s blog post Forget About Setting Goals—Do This Instead, and my perspective changed.

The gist of the article (which is pretty brief, so I highly suggest reading it yourself) is that identifying goals is significantly less effective than is instituting new ongoing systems of behavior when it comes to getting things done. Odd, I know, since a “goal” is a “thing you want to get done” . . . but I have to say that, when I think about it, the most effective results I’ve ever gotten in just about every facet of my life have come from making systematic changes, not from setting specific goals.

I’ve been thinking about this, and I’ve decided that rather than set goals based on my month-ago realizations, I’m going to attempt to make changes to my systems. I’m not going to think about end goals, I’m going to think about the process. Rather than setting a target number of cartoons and illustrations to complete, I’m going to set a number of hours per week that I spend drawing.

Honestly, this change is more significant than I first thought. It seemed to me that it was a trick to convert a goal into smaller, more easily achievable goals that added up to the original one. But as I think about actually APPLYING this change to my life and work, it’s actually much different than that.

I’m just about ready to start rolling out my new systems. I doubt anyone but me will notice the difference, since it’s only FINISHED work that the outside world generally sees . . . but I’m still excited about the prospect. And if this way of doing things IS, in fact, more effective at getting things done . . . well . . . there should be an increased number things for you to see as the year rolls along.

Stay tuned for more.

One Comment

  1. Naomi wrote:

    Rock ON! I love the feeling I get when I am making positive momentum in my life. It’s exciting to hear you are feeling good about your plans, and I can’t wait to hear more!

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

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