The Focus Course

How to Show Up in 2020

We’ve done a lot of speculating recently, and now it’s time get honest. The sooner we say out loud what we hope to accomplish in 2020, the sooner we can get to how we’re going to make it happen.

Writing down your goals or saying them out loud feels vulnerable.

What if I miss? What if I bomb? What if everyone points at me and tells me I’m a loser?

Well, all of those are a possibility. But, they are also 90% worse in your head than they are in reality. So you don’t hit the exact target you were hoping for — who cares? So you didn’t even come close to achieving your goal — what’s the big deal?

The biggest chance you have at achieving your goals in 2020 is to make them known — to yourself and others — and the only way your goals are going to come about is through your decision to show up everyday for the next twelve months.

Write Down Three Things

No more hypotheticals. It’s time to write down what you’d like to achieve in 2020. The only way you are going to know what actions will lead you closer to your goal is by making your goals known.

Write down three goals you have for the upcoming year. Make it as concrete as possible. Instead of I want to read more, put, as a reader in 2020, I will read one book per month. Instead of, Eat healthy, write as someone that eats healthy, I will prepare one new meal per week in 2020 that fits my criteria for a balanced diet.

Grab a piece of paper or pull out your smartphone and write it as a note to yourself. I’ll do it with you.

  • Goal 1
  • Goal 2
  • Goal 3

Look at your list. Are you happy with them? Does three feel like too many? Does it feel like not enough?

Here’s the deal, it’s hard to make a decision like this on the spot. It’s kind of a big commitment. How do you know if you chose the right three? If you’re serious and you really want to see progress, I’ve got a challenge for you.

For the next five days, write out your three goals every single day.

Like you did just now. Only, let your mind work on these goals for the next five days. As you write them out each day, be okay with making some changes.

What exactly are you trying to accomplish and why?

(We’ll get to how in a moment.)

If you read last week’s article, you spent some time thinking about what you’d like the next twelve months to look like. It can feel overwhelming to think about all the things we want to make progress in, so much so we end up making no decision in the end.

Three goals is a lot, but it’s also not too much. At the same time, three things can feel too small. We’re going to focus on less, more often.

How to Win

Now that you’ve identified some goals for the upcoming year, the real question is how will you accomplish them.

Achieving our goals requires change. It could be adjusting a current practice or learning a new skill. The gap between where we currently are and where we hope to finish is our ability to consistently take action on things that will inch us closer to our destination. Easy, right?

The best thing that we can do is stack the odds in our favor, such as giving ourselves a really good advantage to win by creating circumstances that favor what we’re trying to accomplish.

We do this in a few ways. Identifying lifestyle practices that align with our overall goals, tracking progress to keep ourselves on target and accountable, and making necessary adjustments along the way.

Let’s dive in.

1. Lifestyle Practices

Simply put, lifestyle practices are intentional habits, routines, or rituals that align with an area of life in which you are trying to affect change. They are the vehicle that moves you toward your goal. The right lifestyle practices automate your goals.

For example, this new year I have a goal of waking up early before the rest of the house. This goal is not a destination goal as much as it is a habit I’m trying to cultivate. But even with a goal such as this, there are still lifestyle practices I can implement to help set me up for success.

Supporting Lifestyle Practice Examples

  • Start bedtime routine at 8:30pm
  • Only allowed to snooze my alarm and go back to bed after showering
  • Set out morning coffee stuff the night before
  • No evening TV time Sunday through Thursday

Instead of focusing on the goal itself, setting my sights on these practices will help keep me on track to accomplish my goal. Implementing one of these would help, but it will probably take a combo of a couple to really help ensure I’m waking up on time.

Lifestyle practices are like bumpers at a bowling alley. They keep you in the lane. You may not get a strike every roll, but at least you’ll hit a pin or two.

Whether your goal is an achievement goal or new practice you are trying to create, what lifestyle practices are going to keep you on track?

Write down three lifestyle practice ideas that would help you achieve one of your goals.

Lifestyle practices essentially become your game plan to dominate your goals. Without them, your chances of success dramatically decrease. If 92% of all New Year’s resolutions fail, you should have a bullet-proof plan to avoid becoming a statistic.

Think through and write the lifestyle practices that are going to move you toward accomplishing each goal. Statistically, the odds are stacked against you. Lifestyle practices is the first step to being one of the 8%.

2. Track Progress

Lifestyle practices are the first step to showing up in 2020, and the second is tracking your progress.

Ideally, tracking progress is something that can be measured daily, is within your control, and has a direct effect on achieving your goal. Tracking progress is how you know if you are likely to achieve your goal. It’s a form of accountability to help you follow through on what you said you were going to do.

Tracking progress is something you should be able to visualize. It’s powerful to be able to see progress. It could be a log that you keep in a notebook, or a digital habit tracker like Streaks, as long as it’s simple enough to be updated regularly and doesn’t feel like a burden.

Back to my example goal of waking up early, a good place to start would be tracking my supporting lifestyle practices. Over time, I’ll be able to see trends emerge.

  • Am I consistently starting my bedtime routine at 8:30pm?
  • Did I keep the TV off Sun through Thu evening?

If I’m consistently hitting my lifestyle practices, but still struggling to wake on time, then I may need to make some adjustments. More on that in a moment.

Tracking progress plays a crucial role in achieving any goal. And whether we realize it or not, we are probably doing it subconsciously.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing how you will track your progress.

  1. Is it easy to update?
  2. Does it motivate you to keep going?
  3. Is it readily accessible?

Tracking progress has a positive influence on helping you achieve your goals when it is easy to use, helps you visualize progress, and doesn’t cause goal shame. Meaning, it’s meant to help keep you accountable and keep you on track.

But the final key is making small adjustments as necessary.

3. Course Correct

It’s rarely the case that what we think a goal will require at the start is actually required throughout the entire process. We don’t know what we don’t know, and that’s okay. The first days are fueled by the adrenaline of starting something new, but as time goes on we begin to realize the lifestyle practices are not as effective as they used to be. We feel ourselves slightly drifting off course.

That’s perfectly okay! Don’t overreact by quickly mandating a new habit. It’s normal to make adjustments along the way.

Whatever area of life the goal is you are trying to accomplish, there is an acclimation period in which your body and mind are catching up with these new practices. Depending on how much of a change the new lifestyle practice is to what you are used to, it may take varying amounts of time before you fully adapt.

It’s important to keep in mind through this phase that it is perfectly okay to make minor changes to the methods you are employing to keep you on track.

A simple question to ask yourself is: does this lifestyle practice still move me toward my ultimate goal of X?

Sometimes a little perseverance is needed to push through a plateau. Other times, a minor change needs to be made.

As a note, I try to give myself a solid four weeks of consistently implementing a new lifestyle practice before I start making changes. I try to be as consistent as possible for a full month before making any drastic changes. Once through that full month I will allow myself to more thoroughly review my progress and see what changes need to be made.

The point is, you will inevitably have to correct your course. Don’t be thrown off by this. It’s part of the process. Just keep leaning into the lifestyle practices you’ve established, keep tracking progress, and the right changes will present themselves.

Behavior change is hard. The reality is, there is no easy way. If you want to make lasting change toward things that truly matter, it’s going to be a fight.

But, that’s not to say that making lasting significant change isn’t possible. That’s the beauty of it. There is all the possibility in the world. But it’s going to take every bit of intentionality and determination to stay the course.

These concepts are nothing new, but they are what’s proven to the greatest chance of success:

  • Absolute clarity about what it is you are trying to achieve.
  • Supporting habits and routines that will inch you toward your goal.
  • Consistently tracking and reviewing progress being made.
  • Making needed adjustments along the way.

Showing up in 2020 starts with you deciding what you’re going to pursue. Remind yourself why it’s important and what is at stake. It could be simple or fun, in which case it matters all the more as fun is hard to find these days.

If you’d like more tools for dominating the new year, Plan Your Year 2020 is a fantastic next step. The 2020 edition iterates on our previous two years. The overall design and layout got a hefty facelift. New videos coaching you through the reflection and planning process. New prompts and questions to help you identify what’s most important for the upcoming year.

Plan Your Year will be available on December 10th.

Hero image by Marvin Ronsdorf via Unsplash.

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