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The Anti-New Year’s Resolutions: Systems, not Goals (Part 2 of 2)

Part 2 of a 2-part series (click here for part 1 to learn about why New Year’s resolutions don’t work.)

I love that freshly-washed feeling of the turn of a new year.  It could just be that I get more sleep in the 10 days between Christmas and New Year’s when the kids are off from school,  But I seem to have more energy to clear away any unpleasantness I’ve been tolerating. And like many people, I look ahead to the coming year.

Over time, I’ve changed my perspective on how helpful resolutions can be.  I’ve had my own varying degrees of success, and have stopped setting so many “goals.”  Now I focus on intentions or themes for the year.  Last year’s theme was “clarity” and this year’s theme is emerging as “release.”

If intentions and themes are too vague for you, then consider using “systems” rather than “goals.”

I learned about systems when I read cartoonist Scott Adams’ book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.”  The book is an insightful and entertaining tale of his trek to success.  (Spoiler alert:  fail until you succeed.)

He says a goal is a “reach-it-and-be-done-with-it situation, a specific objective that you either achieve or don’t” sometime in the future.

Deciding to lose twenty pounds is a goal.

A system is “something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run.”

Deciding to eat healthily is a system.

Adams offers an oh-so-true-for-me description of what it’s like to have goals and why they don’t work: “Goal oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out.  Systems people succeed every time they apply their system, in the sense that they did what they intended to do.  The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn.  The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system.”

A personal example:  Some years ago I got tired of feeling like crap after a night out because I drank too much alcohol. I knew that I could have up to two drinks in a night, enjoy myself, and feel fine the next day.  Yet time after time I would drink two, say “what the hell” and order the third.

Eventually I figured out that if I started my night with a non-alcoholic drink and then alternated from alcoholic to non-alcoholic I could enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and not feel the desire to drink more.  After reading Adams’ book, I realized that I’d created a system.  Even when I’m a feeling a little indulgent, I can stick to my “every other” routine.

Systems aren’t based on temporary feelings.

Often goals such as “I’m going to lose weight!” come while standing on the scale. You react to a bad feeling about the number.

At that moment, we’re not actually faced with hunger or an offer of homemade cookies from a co-worker.  Later when we are, the sting of the scale has worn off and we can’t remember why it was so important to only eat vegetables all day.  If we again react to our current feelings, we’ll overeat.  Systems bypass the emotional check-in.

Here’s why it works for me. Usually, we  look inward to find flaws that interfere with reaching goals.  Then we put an effort into fixing flaws.  But there’s nothing wrong with us, so fixing ourselves is futile. If I don’t apply the system as I would have liked, I can simply look back and understand that I didn’t apply the system, NOT that I am a loser who can’t ever keep promises to myself.

Even though I know that the “New Year” is a time concept made up by mankind, one tiny blip in the eternity that is our universe, there is something powerful about turning the page.

This year, for each goal or resolution you want to set, think about a system that you can put into place instead. Put those systems into practice and over time you are sure to experience success.

Cheers!

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Want to make more money and get more clients with ease? 

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3 tips for getting everything you want this holiday season (and in life)

My mother used to tell a story about a Christmas morning early in her marriage to my father.

She had her eye on a certain camelhair coat displayed at a department store. Her anticipation grew as Christmas drew near because a box appeared under the tree that was exactly the right size for the coat. She described how she reserved opening that particular present for last.

Finally, she tore off the paper, opened the box, and… it was a toilet seat cover!

Even telling the story decades later her face would contort in an expression of disappointment and resentment. It was meant as a practical joke by my father, but it fell flat, and he still rues the day he bought it.

Tip #1 – Ask for what you want – specifically!
I can’t say for sure that my mom didn’t ask for that coat directly, but I do know that he didn’t buy it and it didn’t end up under the tree. I’m guessing she had an assumption that he would know what she wanted, and get it for her. The number one mistake we make when we want something is not asking for it specifically!

I get exactly what I want during the holidays. Why? I not only tell my husband what I want, but I find it online and then send a link to him with a note saying “This is what I want.” We both end up happy – me because I got what I wanted, and him because there’s no pressure for him to figure it out on his own, risking disappointment.

Tip #2 – Ask for what you want, not what you don’t want
When I was younger, people often gave me clothes as gifts. It was a perfectly reasonable gift to give, but it really rankled me. I was very particular about what I wore, and I disliked feeling obligated to wear something I didn’t like. I complained about it, saying things like, “I wish people wouldn’t get me clothes.” or “You can get me anything except I don’t want clothes!” Guess what the universe heard over and over? Clothes, clothes, clothes! No wonder people were always getting them for me. As the saying goes, what you resist, persists. Instead, ask for what you DO want!

Tip #3 – To have what you want, want what you have
At a company holiday gift exchange, my husband once received a compact floor heater. I thought that was just about the dopiest gift you could ever give at a company gift exchange. Rather ungraciously, I remember poking fun of it at the time. Guess who ended up using that heater more than anyone else? Yep, me! In fact, I used it so much that I literally burned it out.

Part of experiencing the abundance of having what you want is wanting what you have. As Deepak Chopra said, “We never need to seek abundance. We simply need to notice and open up to what’s already there and allow the bounty of the universe to flow through us.” So be open to receiving what is coming your way. It may not be exactly as you imagined it would be, but if you practice receiving it gratefully and graciously, you might be surprised at how the gift becomes exactly what you want. And if it doesn’t, well, it’s perfectly OK to let it go.

The media bombards us with images of happy children gleefully opening presents on Christmas morning and men standing with blue Tiffany boxes behind their backs beside beautiful and unsuspecting women. These images imply that the joy of giving and receiving is in the surprise. Hogwash, I say.

The greatest joy in getting what you want, is getting what you want.

Getting what you want is as simple as asking for it.  As I always say: the most important thing you can do to begin your journey to abundance is to ask for what you want. To learn how to harness the power of asking, download my free guide “The Power of Asking” today!

 


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A post-election-day-candy-bar conundrum

I woke up yesterday angry at America. Angry at the world! And angry at my kids. Someone ate the Reese’s peanut butter cup right off my dresser, the one that I’d been saving, the one, truth be told, I took without asking right out of my son’s Halloween candy stash. Found the wrappers in the trash can, right within view, no hiding that. When confronted, neither my son nor daughter admitted to having eaten it. Could my husband, who is out of town, have eaten it? Nope, he texts me. Back to the kids. My son did his “I’m lying but pretending not to be” shrug, twice, and I shrugged it right back at him. He also claimed to have completed all his homework on Election Day – back to that in a minute – on his day off. Nope. Lying again. I looked straight at him and said, “I don’t understand why saying you didn’t eat a candy bar that I know you ate is worth defending.” At no point, however, did I admit that I had taken it right from the stash strewn over his floor. So that technically it was his. I was waiting for him to admit it first. Which being 13 he was not likely to do. Continue reading


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New Year’s Resolutions: Friend or Foe?

When I was a child, we had a family friend who we would often visit on Saturdays.  They had a wonderful big old house, and being scholarly types, had bookshelves full of books.  There weren’t many there that were kid friendly, but one day I came upon a hardbound collection of Wonder Woman comics.  I would spend hours poring over the stories of this amazing and heroic woman.  In later years, when Lynda Carter starred as Wonder Woman in a TV series, I felt like I knew her personally. Continue reading