Better AT Business Season II Premier! New Year’s Resolutions NEVER WORK

We discuss New Year’s Resolutions. Are they important? Aren’t they? What works?

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  • 1:30 Shanna talks about the risks associated with “winning” at your New Year’s Resolutions.

  • 3:00 What is a New Year’s Resolution anyway?

  • 8:00 How habits tie into resolutions. How good are you at habits?

  • 8:30 How big changes cause so many follow-on shifts that you can’t predict what will happen.

  • 10:00 Marina uses parenthood as an example of making a big change when you can’t anticipate what happens — and how it sometimes turns out better than you anticipated.

  • 14:30 Why Shanna thinks a year is too far to commit to

  • 19:30 Marina and Shanna share their New Year intention-setting rituals

“It’s not so much about making the plan, or the resolution, or the word. It’s the ritual of returning to it, that means whether or not it’s going to succeed or fail.”

  • 28:00 The art of building the ritual of review and breaking down how to track progress

  • 30:30 How caring about your “resolutions” matters more than what they are.

    What do you think? What's your experience with New Year resolutions? Have they ever truly work for you?

You Can On Operate One Man At A Time. Where Do You Start?

“You know, they give this test to all novice field medics...
Say, that you get three wounded men: one with a belly wound, one with a serious thigh wound – open break, blood loss, shock, the works – and one with a glancing shoulder wound. You can only operate on one at a time –  where do you start?
Surely, all the novices say, it’s the belly wound.
Bad guess, says the examiner. While you’re busy with him, and it’s nine out of ten that he’s going to die anyway, the guy with the thigh wound will get complications; he will at least lose his leg, and most likely die, too. So you have to start with the most serious wound among those with a decent chance of survival – in our case, the thigh wound. As for the belly wound, well … give the man an analgesic and leave him to the One’s will. “
-- The Last Ringbearer, K.Eskov


This morbid scene from an excellent fanfic illustrates a decision many of us struggle with daily. Well, not literally, unless you’re a medieval field medic. But deciding what’s the next thing to do, even if it’s not a life-or-death matter, can be overwhelming to the point of paralysis. Either there's too much to do, or the stakes are too high, or the task is too unfamiliar, or it feels too long, or too tedious. Or all of the above.

Ever noticed that a to-do list is much easier to write than to actually do the to-dos?

The Steven Covey quadrant (the urgent-important grid) isn’t always a good solution, because you might get stuck in placing the tasks into their quadrants. Is cleaning my house really more important than settling that medical 4-digit bill with my insurance company? Is booking an hotel for my vacation more urgent than writing to my subscribers? My readers would be expecting an email next week, and my vacation is in a month. But maybe there won’t be any rooms left, because we travel in high season?

This can go for hours without anything getting really done.

So... for those who get stuck choosing a task, here is one handy tactic:

1. Choose ONE "thigh wound". In productivity jargon it's often called MIT - Most Important Thing. I find a "thigh wound" to be more emotionally charged, and therefore more likely to stick. So let's use that.

What the ONE thing you can do today that will give you/your job/your business/your relationship the best chances of... well, a better tomorrow?


2. Start operating. START operating. Don't think about the entire surgery, don't look at the poisonous arrow (yet), don't plan the neat bandage bow at the end. Wash your hands and pick the best scalpel for the job.

In other words, find the first tiny step to heal that thigh wound. Do it. Now. Seriously, this very moment, your patient is bleeding.

What's your "normal"? (from Mostly Dead to Fairly Functional, part 7)

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Welcome to the final piece of “Getting back to Normal”!
I have a single question for today: What’s your “normal” pace?
How do you measure it? Spend a moment giving it a thought.

What does your “fully recovered” look like?
Are you going to get back to writing 3 posts a week, or just to working 6 hours a day, finally?
Is it simply having the energy to plan more than an hour ahead?  
Or maybe recovery in your case means that you're ready to dive head-first into your next project?

It's easier to do anything, make any kind of progress, if you know where you going. 


What  are you expecting of yourself?
Once you know, you can map the way, and celebrate small wins. Big wins too, actually. You wrote a post? You worked for 3 sprints of 15 minutes? You rock!

It’s been a week. That went fast!
Any chance you’ve rested enough to take a moment, and ask yourself “when do I consider myself fully recovered?” It’s OK if right now it’s not the time. But be sure to do this soon. Put a reminder to ask this question a week from now. (“OK Google, remind me to ask myself “what it means to be fully recovered” a week from now”).

This way the road to that blissful state of “normal” would be much easier, or at least much clearer.

Hope you loved this series. Let me know what you think!


P.S. If you missed the other pieces of "Mostly Dead to Fairy Functional" series, no worries. Life happens.

I put together a handy list below for you to catch up. I think you'd like it.
P.S. If you missed the other pieces of "Mostly Dead to Fairy Functional" series, no worries. Life happens.
I put together a handy list below for you to catch up. I think you'd like it.
Day 1: You survived the Big Crunch Time. You're "only mostly dead". Now what?
Day 2: Let go of inactivity guilt during "still time". Cap it! 
Day 3: The trick to planning your return to "Fairly Functional": Big or Granular
Day 4: The big impact of Small Wins. With examples
Day 5: Skype coffee? How working with others helps you focus your internal resources
Day 6: The un-work "back to life" hack: Get your gym clothes

The un-work "back to life" hack (from Mostly Dead to Fairly Functional, part 6)

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Today we are not going to talk about work per se, because it’s the weekend.
This post is focusing on gradually getting back to your exercise routine.

This is not a straight up productivity hack, but at this point there's plenty of evidence that exercise is one of the best things a person can do for their, well, productivity. 

Let me repeat that and bigger letters:

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for you productivity.

If you have an exercise routine in place, I don't need to convince you. You already know how essential your physical activity is to your well-being. So just remember to slowly renew your regimen if you have neglected it during crunch time. 
"Slowly" being the operative word. You’re recovering, it’s not the time to push for personal records.

If you don't, how about using this time to build a beginners exercise routine? You're useless anyways! It'll do wonders for your mental and physical state, I promise. 

It doesn't mean that you need to run a marathon. It doesn't mean that you need to lift weights, if you hate it it. It absolutely doesn't mean that you need to do yoga, if you can't stand any kind of yoga. (I was in that camp until recently, I know how it feels).

The only thing it means that if you don't have an exercise routine now, find some kind of exercise you enjoy, and experiment with it. 
Good luck! Tell me how it goes in that Skype coffee we're planning.

Skype coffee? (from Mostly Dead to Fairly Functional, part 5)

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It's day 5 of "Mostly Dead to Fairly Functional" series, and today we won't focus on you.
We'll talk about people around you. Mostly.


One of the biggest factors helping us get back on track is the support from human environment. Your teammates, your clients, your family , your coworkers, your boss or coach. 

In other words, get together with people. Start scheduling social commitments, small ones at first. A session in your mastermind group, a coffee date,  may be a one-on-one with your supervisor or a coaching session.

Why is that important?

Because even the most introverted introverts, tend to be more focused, energized, and say smarter things in conversation with another human being. 

We tend to mobilize our internal resources when we communicate LIVE.

If you're fortunate to be surrounded by supportive and positive people, first - you’re probably a wonderful person yourself. Want a Skype coffee?

I digress.
What I meant to say - you know, you can straight out ask a friend or a colleague “can I work with you sometimes? Can we Skype for half an hour, and just be present, each doing her own thing?” If you need to collaborate on a project, even better.

The presence of another human being gives us the focus and the accountability to perform. I was going to write to "perform much better", but when you're mostly dead, it's often "to perform, period".
If you’re a solopreneur, this is truer by an order of magnitude.

So use your social environment, use your network, work with people. You might be surprised as to how much results it provides.


What Small Wins? Could you be more specific? (From Mostly Dead to Fairly Functional, part 4)

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As you may remember,  last time I mentioned creating a repository of small wins. What are these small wins, exactly? And how do you make them work for you?

We are on day 4 of "Mostly Dead to Fairly Functional" series. 
Let’s take a closer look.

Small wins usually have to do with somewhat mindless work. 

That's because they're, well, small, and don’t require too much mind power. 

 - For example, sorting through your bills will make you feel highly accomplished.
 - If that idea makes you cringe, make a short to-do list.  Short! 3-5 entries max.
 - Schedule a doctor's appointment. 
 - Read an article for 15 minutes, then stop. 
 - Look for cute animal pictures for your next post. (Like these adorable pandas in parts onetwo, and three. You're welcome).
The idea is to convince you that you can plan and execute.
See? You've just done it. You have the power.
Go look at baby elephants!

A side note: the idea to look at baby animals to help you write, and to feel productive in general, came from the amazing Maria Granovsky, a writing coach, and all-around brilliant overachiever. 


Feel free to let me know what other simple tasks you can use for small wins. 
Always love hearing more ideas :).