In his book, When, Daniel Pink explores the importance of timing. He uses an evidence-based approach to suggest times of day that have been proven to be better for pitch meetings and interviews (hint: mornings), why starting the school day an hour later could have incredibly positive results for student learning, when it might be the right time to make a big change, achieve big goals, and the importance of ending strong.
As we plant our stakes into the new year, 2019, I found myself remembering a part of Pink’s observation that people whose ages end in a ‘9’ tended to be more likely to take a risk, achieve an audacious goal… and even run a marathon. According to his research, “someone who’s forty-nine is about three times more likely to run a marathon than someone who’s just a year older.”
T-1 year to 2020
With a significant “9” upon us collectively, we have an opportunity to leverage any peaks in motivation to move ourselves and our work further this year.
Pink purports that one of the reasons that 19, 29, 39, 49, 59, etc. ages are especially significant is because as humans, we tend to judge and recall experiences disproportionately by their endings. You can have had a fantastic year, but if it ended on a slump or downturn–it is more likely to impact your assessment of the entire year.
Even beginning to understand this psychology can help us frame this new year differently. Instead of thinking of resolutions, we can focus on what we want to finish, achieve, overcome, and accomplish so that we end this decade strong.
How can we make the most of 2019 as a capstone to the decade? Here are 5 ways to achieve big goals this year.
1. Visualize clearly and greatly
Study upon study has shown the power of visualization. With that in mind, we should first think about something impossible, improbable, that we can make inevitable this year. It may be something we have been putting off or have been avoiding or haven’t committed to. We can spend some time scoping out our audacious goals, and then visualizing with specificity. How will it feel to achieve that goal? What will it look like? Who will be there to celebrate? What doors will achieving that goal open? Who will it positively impact? How will it change our daily lives?
2. Believing we are almost there
Pink cites studies have shown that we will work harder when we believe we are just a little behind in a goal. If you have ever completed a crowdfunding campaign, you may have experienced this with the relative ease of trying to raise the last 10–20% versus the middle 25%. We should take careful stock and reflect magnanimously on how we might be closer to our goal than on first blush. Maybe we already have the equipment, gear, or training to achieve the goal. Perhaps someone who attained what you hope to was not much further than we are at this time or stage.
3. Boldly remove barriers
What could have seemed like a barrier in 2018, is no match for our renewed will to finish this decade on a high note. With this focus in mind, we can dissolve the digital, mental, physical clutter distracting and impeding our paths. Instead of being active on a half-dozen social media channels, we might choose one or two and bow out from the rest. This digital decluttering may make it easier to focus. I engaged in this bold step just over six weeks ago and have been taking more online courses and setting new learning goals that felt out of reach before. This approach can also be used to declutter your physical space and relationships. With a goal in mind, we can find ways to make it easier to achieve it and finish strong.
4. Find a community, IRL first
Even though we are on the path to achieving our greatest goals, if it is a lonely journey we may lose our will or desire to see it through along the way. While online communities may be helpful in the long run, I issue the challenge of first finding a live convening or gathering to meaningfully begin building community. This can look different based on different goals. And when in doubt, organizing an impromptu hike, brunch, or happy hour might do wonders to attract the right people (even if a small group) who are similarly aligned, focused, and motivated to finish the decade strong with a shared goal in mind.
From an Impactathon® live convening in 2018
5. Celebrate milestones
In the insightful online Coursera course “Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects,” instructors, Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, explain the importance of creating positive neurological cravings for new behaviors and habits we are trying to set. We can create positive cravings for achieving success when we break down our big goal and celebrate our small wins.
I share these observations not as a one-way directive but to co-inspire completion of a couple of audacious goals that I would love to achieve in this decade.
It’s our new year, in all good things let’s #goanddo!