Getting drunk with some great works of reverse engineering when it comes to personal development, I’ve come to conclude, mostly through books, that where successful people excel is strategically planning for the future. But then again, as happens increasingly, planning alone leads to frustration. People often set larger-than-life goals, and though this doesn’t necessarily mean anything wrong, many fail to follow through.
New Year resolutions are a perfect example. Perhaps even the timing of this article serves an obvious point- right around the end of this month most of us abandon our resolutions. By extension, we draw conclusions based upon a broken model.
Introducing the modular resolution setting approach
From all the flaws I see in big-picture goal setting, one carries significant weight. Namely, of necessity, we focus our entire attention on one thing only and sooner rather than later both boredom and frustration kick in.
In effect, we lose on novelty, the occasional surprise, flexing our creative muscles so they can adapt and carry us out of the comfort zone.
Yet for all this, we still chose to go with the broken model. So I’m about to offer an alternative. A modular New Year resolution, if you will.
Instead of having one thing to focus your entire attention on, you go with 52- one for each week.
At a glance this probably seems counterintuitive. Why on Earth would we choose to chase 52, when we can’t seem to catch the tail of a single one? But here is the twist- there is nothing inherently wrong with thinking small as opposed to setting larger-than-life goals. So it goes that instead of aiming sky high, you try to build your modular approach by filtering through goals that can yield results either within a week, or few more down the road.
And this is what makes your journey doable, while at the same time fun and engaging. Every week is a different challenge, and each success piles up.
You can do this with exercise, healthy habits, eliminating bad foods from your diet… you name it.
Take working out for example – you don’t have to go to the gym and pledge loyalty to the process for an entire year. No! Instead, sign up for an online fitness platform and complete one set of workouts each and every week. Fitness subscription services like Daily Burn offer infinitely long libraries of workouts, so you can complete a set of 5 this week, and another set of 5 the one after.
Getting out of the comfort zone
Getting out of the comfort zone builds and strengthens the character of a person. Trying to adapt, we let the best version of ourselves surface. And, like any other challenge, it is a form of work. In sync with these realities, within reasonable limits, the goal is to aim for getting out of balance, out of our comfort frame.
And this modular pattern leaves plenty of room for such behavior. Simply put, you get a new opportunity within a week. Without much in the way of obsessing, each week will bring novelty to your lifestyle. At a bare minimum, you will at least always have the opportunity to stretch.
After a while this transforms into a habit. A habit to push yourself in different verticals, and areas of life not necessarily related. This, with the risk of sounding quaintly archaic, will improve your life.
I never tried bowling in my life, but somehow I know that if I force myself to do new things on weekly basis, I might go within a month or two. And albeit there is significant number of unknowns into this approach, the certainty remains that there will be more opportunity, more excitement, more room for adopting the new and, with it, adapting.
Modular approach means modular disappointment
In a setting where you are not dealing with absolutes, disappointment takes a different shape. It is, if any, only temporary. Much is easier when you know that you can try again next week, or postpone for a time when you feel ready.
Admittedly, this might lead to procrastination, but for some people it is way more important to create a pattern of goals where deadlines are not necessarily taken so serious.
In context, this might also set the tone for this modular approach. Instead of betting your life goal on it, you can step down a notch and experiment with others of minor importance (or seemingly minor importance as it often happens).
Abundance of creativity and novelty into your life
While a single, well planned goal commands attention, the modular pattern relies on creativity, innovative ideas, novelty. It is, in its core, a model for adventurous living.
And it can be approached in two ways.
The first, which I’ve taken to calling it the fixed template, is a more robust approach. Say you are into books, and want to read more. Following this model, you will give yourself the goal of reading one new book each week.
I, myself, resorted to learning a new recipe each week. Doesn’t need to be flashy, doesn’t need to be a French Tart Tropezien right out of the blue, but it has to be different, it has to be new.
You can even chose to go to the movies or theater each week and see a different performance or a different screening from the repertoire. Same can be done for dinning out, discovering new and interesting places for your lunch break, coffee with friends.
This, while introducing serious change to your character, welcomes excitement in your life. You also get to take more initiative, and become the type of person who gives ideas as for what to do or where to go. This is a significant improvement over waiting for chewed ideas and looking up to other people. Friends, and especially dates, love this.
The other approach to this modular goal setting method is starting something new each week; or cutting something out, if you so prefer. And while it might be a fad proposition, at least you are going to be doing it (or not doing it) for almost a week. Rinse and repeat this behavior for handful of times and it becomes deeply embedded as a habit.
Take this model, play with it, improve upon it, customize it, and see what happens within a month. In contrast to the traditional premise of a New Year resolution idea, it might create an image emporium out of which you will constantly draw new and exciting activities, supplying into your life new and exciting ideas, people, places, experiences, ways of seeing the world.