Get Your New Year's Resolutions to Stick [Goal Setting]

Coding (Psicology)

Jan 12, 2020

How many New Year's resolutions ever stuck with you? Improve your career by learning how to set the goal that will set you for life
 
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The new year has arrived and it brought new motivations, goals and wish of starting again.


During the last two decades, one of the trends during the Christmas holiday is to write new year resolutions.

 

Even though this is a very positive attitude and the goal is to create a better ourself statistics says that less than 8% accomplish their goal, actually less than 25% still work on accomplishing them after 30 days.

 

That is why in January the gyms are always busy but by March or April, there are half of the people.
 

 

Plan your career by setting goals

 

One of the quotes I like the most is from Angela Duckworth and it says “Live life like is a marathon, not a sprint”.

 

To understand this concept I’ll tell you about one of my personal ones.

 

One of my biggest goals so far was to move to another country to pursue a career in web development becoming a PHP developer.

 

This goal included easily fit into a new culture, learn a new language, moving to a bigger city, and all the duties that come along, and try to remain healthy throughout.

 

By working on the smaller milestones I achieved the main goal in circa 3 years.

 

This may seem a long time and very difficult to stick with but you need to consider that the situation will stay in this current state from the moment the goal was accomplished till retirement (or until I decide otherwise).

 

Plus the life expectancy in my new country is currently 79.2 years, which means it took less than 4% of the total time to achieve it. 

 

Another quote to stress this concept is 

 

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years”

 

The person that said that spend all his spare time, night and day in a room coding and learning all he could about computer for more than 9 years during his teens.

 

You might think it is a waste of time and he could spend that time in a better way,

 

I am just going to add his photo below and give you a few seconds to think again.

 

 

 

How to set your goal

 

Once established how important goals are and why you should set them, let’s have a look at how to do so.

 

In my opinion, there are two main reasons people find so difficult to stick with a goal:

 

  1. Goals setting is a skill, you need to learn it before actually working on your goal.
  2. Once you set a goal the right way, procedures that need to be followed to make sure you follow them through.

 

 

The science behind GOAL SETTING

 

“I want more money”

anyone everywhere

 

I can respond to this sentence with “Here is 1 dollar now get out of here” and it will make perfect sense.

 

Do you see what is going wrong with the sentence above?

 

This goal does not mean anything.

 

To be clearer the sentence cannot answer any of the following questions:

 

How much money is more? Is 1 dollar enough? Is there a time limit on this goal? What is the surplus of money for?

 

The same concept worth for sentences like “I want to be in better shape this year”

 

There is no way to track these goals and this right here is the main reason people do not stick with new year resolutions.

 

You see, goals must contain certain characteristics that will make them actionable thus more likely to be performed and achieved.

 

Stefan James from Project Life Mastery used the acronymous S.M.A.R.T. which represent the features that each goal should have.

 

The S.M.A.R.T goals

 

Specific

 

We already saw this one, you need to be specific, you gotta have a clear destination of where do you want to go.

 

Do not be afraid of use number, time and add as many details as you can,

 

One of my 2019’s goal, for example, was to study all 100+ array function of PHP, and I did it and post them in the series PHP array exposed 

 

I also wanted to create at least 2 projects while learning a Javascript framework (React in my case) by December 31st.

 

This year I’ll have some other goals such as deepen my knowledge of design pattern, also use containers more ( both Docker & Kubernetes) by creating and managing 1 web application before summer starts and enrol to 1 course plus attend at least 2 meetups about GoLang by the end of the year.

 

Do you see how specific these goals are?

 

Measurable

 

This goes hand in hand with the previous characteristic,

 

Let’s says, like me, you are interested in design pattern in PHP this year,

 

They are divided into 3 categories: creational, behavioural and structural.

 

In my opinion, a good foundation is to know at least 5 for each category.

 

That 15! 

 

There are 53 weeks this year so 53 / 15 is equal to 3.5.

 

You have 3 weeks and a half to learn and really understand about a design pattern before passing to the next one.

 

To be fair I have already started a series on design pattern in PHP 

 

Have a look if you want to set this as one of your goal this year

 

Attainable

 

There are two currents of thought here and which one to use really is up to you.

 

I personally prefer to set attainable goals, I know in which position I want to be 10 years from now and I can steadily work my way up there, that is what I have been doing so far and it helped me keep my mental health and improve 1% more every day.

 

Another path you can follow is the 10X goal setting made famous by bestselling author Grant Cardone.

 

This is his login in a nutshell:

 

You want to learn how to code in 3 months? 

 

Realistically, in that time, if you study every day you can become good in HTML and learn a few basic styling commands in CSS.

 

Well, the Cardone way is to 10x this goal,

 

In 3 month you have to learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP procedural, how to manage a database and the basic on Object-Oriented programming in PHP.

 

The motivation behind this style of setting goals is that now you will probably end up with HTML, CSS a bit of Js and PHP in your bag which is more that you would if you follow the regular path.

 

A disadvantage of this is that you are set to fail 99% of the time, which can affect your motivation and willingness to continue the next 3 months.

 

Realistic

 

As you saw in the previous chapters it is better if a goal has realistic expectations.

 

Since the farther in the future a goal is the easier is to achieve it a trick is to visualize where you want to be in 5 or 10 years then just plan each and every step you need to act on.

 

Divide the steps by the time-span and here you go! Here are your realistic and measurable career and life plan.

 

Timely

 

Another quote for you:

 

“A goal without a timeline is just a dream” Robert Herjavec

 

If you notice in the previous example I have always set I timelike or deadline to each of the goals I set.

 

“I will ... before summer starts”, 

“I am going to … by the end of the year”,

“I am gonna … in 3 months”,

 

Did you ever had an exam and end up studying for it the night before, even though you had the whole year to study.

 

This is described as the Parkinson law, named after Mr C. Northcote Parkinson a British historian and author, 

 

The law says that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion".

 

 

Your brain is going to make you use 100% of the time available to complete a task or a goal.

 

To make a real work example this means that if you want to change career and learn to code but not set a timeline you might learn to code and be ready to get a web developer role only the day you are supposed to retire.

 

 

That’s not fun!

 

The 3 categories of goals

 

This is a blog post written thinking about web developers and we mainly focused on programming examples but there is another expect we need to consider when setting goals which are enjoying the process and not burning out as well as not setting 1000 goals in a short period.

 

An idea that I shamelessly stole from Clark Kegley from his youtube channel is widening the categories of your goals in more than just work-related stuff.

 

He also adds 2 more categories such as play and rest,

 

If you think about it doing sport or learning something not related to PHP or web development is also a fundamental part of the journey to becoming a better person.

 

The aim is to have a balanced triangle among these goals, not spending too much on one of the angles.

 

 

 

Work (Achievement goals)

 

These are about masculine energy.

 

This is the classic area where people make goals,

 

They are focused on achievement, 

 

They are analytical goals, like how much money do you want to make this year, 

 

what business do you want to run? (if you want to run a business), 

 

Do you want to start a blog? That’s perfect!

 

How many blog posts do you want to publish this year

 

Metrix, revenue, things to do, they all go in this category

 

 

Rest (body and spiritual energy)

 

I bet this in an unusual category to write goals in,

 

As we said the logic behind this goals setting structure is to have a balanced work-life experience.

 

Still making sure we can stick with the process of achieving our goal.

 

In this category, we are going to set a goal like improve the healthiness of your our body,

 

Do you have a percentage of body fat you want to get?

 

Create the habit of going to the gym, or play some sport consistently might be an idea as well, set the goal to attend one or more competition this year.

 

How about yoga or pilates class?

 

If you are a busy person another goal could be to book some time off to sleep more than 8 hours at least twice a week,

 

In this category, you can also add spiritual goals, 

 

Maybe you want to increase your mental energy by drinking avocado smoothies for 100 days in a row, you can meditate or following a morning routine to improve your wellness.

 

Also, How many books do you want to read this year?

 

 

Play (Adventure goals)

 

This is the fun category,

 

In here you can write all the material stuff you want to buy, do you want a new jacket, or buying a car/motorbike.

 

Or maybe you want to move to another place.

 

If you have fun playing some instrument or designing write some goal about it in this section,

 

You can also write about the concerts or festivals you want to attend,

 

Dreaming to get a holiday on a golden beach in the Carribean? This goal goes here as well

 

 

How to achieve your goal

 

I am such a great believer I am surprised I haven’t written about the Pareto principle yet in this blog.

 

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule), states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

 

It is an axiom of web development that "80% of bugs come from 20% of lines";

 

If you have followed the steps described in the previous paragraphs you should now have a list of goals divided (more or less in the same weight) in three categories,

 

Since it will be very difficult to focus on 100% of these goals 100% of the time what I do is to apply the Pareto principle to it.

 

Highlight only the 2 most important goals for each category.

 

Another process that I like to add and helps me a lot is if the goal is are measurable, to have a piece of paper with boxes written on it hanging on the wall and tick those boxes every time I accomplish one milestone or I am getting closer to the main goal.

 

 

Write Down Your Goals

 

In 2007, at the Dominican University in California psychology professor Dr Gail Matthews, performed a study on goal-setting using 270 participants.

 

She found out 42% of them were more likely to achieve your goals if they had written them down.

 

This is an easy trick, 

 

Do you want to become proficient in PHP this year?

 

Write 365 boxed in a piece of paper and fill them every time you study for at least 1 hour on that corresponding day.

 

I guarantee your PHP is going to be amazing next year.

 

 

 

Make them a daily or weekly habit

 

In one of his content, Matt D’avella mentioned a rule that he has created for himself to stick with his goal.

 

The rule he called the “2 days rule”.

 

It simply says that he does not skip more than 2 days in a row of a habit he wants to build.

 

It is okay to not go to the gym every day (he never trained before) and he does not even set a minimum amount of times he needs to train in a month,

anyway having this rule to train once at least every 3 days. Made him train for 10 years consistently.

 

 

Check On Your Goal Progress

 

The problem that any one of us is facing is time,

 

The question here is how to find the time when we in the information age we are so busy we can’t even sit and have lunch properly.

 

The solution was invented by Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582.

 

It is called a calendar!

 

How we use a calendar usually is by checking what day it is or taking notes of some events or appointments.

 

But a calendar can do way more than that. 

 

You can track your day and most importantly block time that you can use to achieve your goals before hands.

 

Also, on a smaller scale using a to-do list is a must,

 

It let you divide the process of achieving your goal in smaller sizes that you can attack one at a time.

 

 

Be Flexible

 

Let’s make a point clear here,

 

None of us has full control of the RESULT or our goal,

 

We can set the goal to finish a new web application this year, 

 

Ending up adding new features you didn't plan for, implementing components or using a programming language that you never used before without actually deploying it.

 

And that is good!

 

You finish the year learning a lot more than you have initially planned.

 

What you have control of is the process of making a cup of coffee, sitting on your desk and work on the application.

 

 

Grit

 

What is the formula for success?

 

Dr Duckworth has spent several years looking for it by studying some of the most successful people currently on the planet and found out the there are several traits.

 

They do not include exclusively talent as TV program tell us all the time.

 

Talent is nothing without effort to improve it and by multiplying them you obtain skills

 

You then multiply the skills you have obtained with the effort to achieve your goal and that is how you achieve it and became successful.

 

As you can see effort came twice, and that why you must maximize your determination and grit.

 

She discovered four elements that help you maximize your grit

 

  1. Develop a fascination for what you are trying to do
  2. Strive to improve each day
  3. Remind yourself of the reason you are doing that (motivation board can help with that)
  4. Adopt a growth mindset, if you subconscious don’t believe you can do that you won’t be able to do it

 

In an article about this concept and how to work daily, I describe Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi philosophy on how to get the flow

 

 

Cardone’s 10x rule

 

I have briefly mentioned Cardone’s standpoint on success above, 

 

I’d like you to understand his 10x rule in more details. 

 

Grant Cardone is a sales trainer, author and real estate investor, 

 

He came from a humble beginning to be one of the most successful influencers in his space, which is equal to Tai Lopez.

 

His point to success can be divided into 2 main parts:

 

10x goals and 10x actions

 

During his career, he found out that people thought that the goal they wanted to achieve was easier and required less time then accounted.

 

This made them less intentional and more chilled about the action they needed to take.

 

For this reason, he is a firm believer or setting the bar much higher than it is supposed to be.

 

At least 10 times more (hence 10x).

 

In this way, you are mentally prepared to make a bigger effort and not give up when something does not work as planned, which it will.

 

He then added a formula to his theory

 

10X (goals) * 10X (action) = 100X (opportunities)

 

The result above is what people for the outside commonly refer to luck (being at the right place at the right time).

 

Another principle of his rule is the concept of F.E.A.R.

 

False Events Appearing Real

 

If you are about to do something and do not feel excited or scared about it, it means the action is within your comfort zone and if you keep doing these activities your will stay where you are.

 

Doing something more, like learning a new programming language will get you in a better position than before

 

 

Conclusion

 

In 1971 Albert King blues guitarist and singer published the single “Everybody Wants to go to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die”

 

Success share the same concept,

 

Keep the mind Goal-orientated and the determination on point for a long period is not for anybody,

 

As I hope you discovered while reading this article there are a few common traits to become successful and achieve your goal (whatever they are).

 

The first one is spending time to actually sit and write down your goal,

 

Then divide them into achievable little milestones that let you keep you on track.

 

Tracking them is the second step, review it every day or week or months make a huge difference

 

Lastly, keep on working, do train, learn, read each and every day.

 

If you decided that this is the year that will make you a web developer in this post about the basics of PHP you will find all the information about starting and developing your skills.

 

Also, below there are a list of resources I found interesting and helped me during the last couple of years

 

Resources

Tony Robbins

Project life mastery

Clark Kegley

Thomas Frank

Matt D'avella

Angela Duckworth

Productivity project

 
 
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