Not everyone makes resolutions like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Most of us pledge to “Lose ten pounds” or “Be more organized,” but his are a little more ambitious, like, “Eat only meat that I kill myself.”
Consequently, when Zuckerberg makes a resolution, it tends to get a lot of attention. That’s why his relatively mundane 2015 New Year’s resolution still made headlines: Read a new book every month. Was he just jealous of the attention Microsoft founder Bill Gates gets for his reading habits? No; reportedly, Zuckerberg asked (on Facebook, natch) what he should do for a New Year’s resolution and this was the suggestion that got the most votes.
Zuckerberg’s first book pick, The End of Power, was immediately sold out all over.
If you, like Zuckerberg, are looking to crowdsource suggestions on what your resolution should be, consider breaking some of your bad tech habits. Promises can be tough to sustain, but here are some tips on how you can be better at keeping yours, even if they don’t involve killing things.
Tell people. One of the advantages of the publicity Zuckerberg gets about his resolutions is that they are heard around the world. People are more likely to stick to pledges that they make publicly. After all, when he started buying his meat at the store again, that too became front-page news. So make an announcement that you plan to “Leave the office by 6:00 pm every day so you can work more efficiently.” Once it’s on the record, you’ll have more incentive to keep it because people will be watching.
Write it down. It may seem strange, but writing down your goals has been scientifically proven to make them more successful, notes Stephen Meyer in Forbes. The act of composing goals gets your subconscious working on making them happen.
Prepare to fail. A big stumbling block to creating new habits isn’t failure to keep them, it’s lacking a path to recover from the failure, writes Joel Gascoigne, founder and CEO at Buffer. “We should instead be calm and expect to break them sometime, let it happen, then regroup and get ready to continue with the habit,” he writes. “A single failure shouldn’t stop our long-term success with building amazing habits.” Meyer recommends creating an if-then statement—a plan to deal with any potential slipups so you can get back on track.
Pick goals that you can control. One surefire way to fail is to make resolutions that depend on others. You have to have control over the outcome. “I resolve to set up a new company-wide email system” won’t work well if someone else holds the purse strings or makes critical decisions. If you are guilty of making these kinds of resolutions, you may be doing it on purpose to give yourself an excuse, writes Belle Beth Cooper, co-founder of Hello Code. “If you don't really want to put in all that effort, setting a goal you don't control is a good way of setting up a fallback,” she writes. “It gives you someone else to blame when you don't reach your goal.”
Switch it up and use reminders. One of the challenges in making new habits is that your life is full of “triggers” associated with the old habit. Smokers, for example, have to avoid the automatic after-dinner cigarette. Changing environments can even help with habits as strong as heroin addiction. So if your goal is to be more organized, block time on your digital calendar each day to clear the clutter from your desk and desktop. Need more reminders? There are apps for that.
Keep company with those who have the habits you want. A few years ago, a study found that overweight people were more likely to stay overweight when they hung around other overweight people. Much like changing your environment, you have to rethink your network and find people whose behaviors you want to model. Want to be an entrepreneur? Join a startup group. Want to get more exercise? Find the people at your company who go walking at lunch.
Whether your resolution is to read more books or kill your meat, better get cracking. You’ve only got 358 days left.
Simplicity 2.0 is where we examine the intricate and transitory world of technology—through a Laserfiche lens. By keeping an eye on larger trends, we aim to make software that’s relevant to modern day workers, rather than build technology for technology’s sake.
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