Get off the new year’s resolution merry-go-round

It’s 5 days into the new year and we’re already tempted to cave in on our newly formed, I’m really gonna do this resolutions. Before you get sucked back into the vortex of bad habits, I’ve got a few ideas that might help.

This year, I only have two resolutions — to adopt two very simple principles that will open up the world of possibility in everything else I want to achieve this year. Let’s call these meta-resolutions.

After much failure and frustration in my own life, I realised the problem is busy-ness. In other words, I was doing stuff but ultimately progressing very slowly. This was true in my career, playing the guitar and finances.

The meta-resolutions in a nutshell:

  • Cut your options down — focus on a few things
  • Quit looking for the magic bullet

Too many options

Realise that too many things — be they books, websites, audio and video material or whatever — is ultimately a distraction. To make progress, cut your options down to a few resources, and focus on reinforcing the fundamentals of what you’re trying to learn/achieve.

This is the root meaning of the word “decision” — literally to cut off. The more “stuff” the more time you’ll spend sifting through it rather than actually learning.

Psychological research has shown clearly that it is not always a good idea for a company to expand its product line. There comes a point too many options makes it hard for the consumer to make that snap decision in the store, therefore the decision can be delayed or even completely withdrawn.

Cut to the chase

  1. Find out what the fundamentals are: the 20% you can focus on critical content — those actions that will result in 80% of successful results. (This takes a bit of upfront research).
  2. Take everything you have on the subject you’re wanting to learn and choose the top 3. These resources will cover off all your critical content and action steps.
  3. Focus on these resources exclusively.

It may not be necessary to focus on everything a particular resource has to offer — in fact you can cull even further by finding the absolute essential chapters and action points that will contribute the most to your progress.

Then stop searching for more. If something good comes up, great, but once you’ve decided what is most important, make sure you focus most of your time on that. Stay on the path!

There is no magic bullet

It is human nature to look for the one thing that will change the game but this kind of thinking is illusory. The Next Big Thing (NBT) can at best give you a new idea or approach but the problem  remains: you still need to take action.

Ultimately, the search for the NBT is fruitless because (a) it doesn’t exist, and (b) all you’re really doing is delaying action (and most probably using the search as an excuse for why you’re not succeeding).

The neediness cycle
You see, another thing humans are great at is doing a bunch of stuff that makes us feel better but ultimately is not leading to our goals at all. Once in place, this self-fulfilling failure cycle doesn’t stop. As long as you continue to think there is something better, the more you’ll fall into trap of seeking. and reinforcing that failure cycle. This distracts from what you should be doing which is using what you have and extracting as much juice out of it as you can.Positive momentum
By focusing on the fundamentals right now (which you can usually find in one or two good resources) you create a foundation for success as well as the habits of success in your chosen area. Quit searching for more and start using what you have.

The perfect consumer
Marketers love people in the neediness cycle, in fact they actively try to amplify that neediness. It seems to work.

Central to the chase for the NBT is a scarcity mentality. People that exhibit this form of neediness are essentially saying “what I have isn’t good enough, I need something else”. As mentioned earlier, this insecurity is the symptom of something that “more stuff” cannot fix.

If you’ve seen the TV show Hoarders knows the last point too well, but we all do hoard to a certain extent.

The solution: Use what you have

Whatever you want to do, chances are there are tonnes of material and experience you can draw inspiration and knowledge from. The basics are always present and while approaches vary in scope and effectiveness, the next ebook, next course, next book, next new way is mostly a marketing gimmick and definitely a distraction from what you should be doing now.
So use what you have. It is (often) enough and when you’re in the position to say you’ve conquered your present resources, then you can expand your knowledge.
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