The Value of a Fresh Start

As we’re coming into the New Year, it’s always worth taking a fresh look at things and considering the ways that you can refine what you are doing, scrap things that don’t make sense, and of course try something new.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum from keeping your life the same to totally upending it, it’s worth figuring out a couple of ways to give yourself a fresh start in the coming year.

Maybe you kicked some serious butt in the past year and accomplished almost everything you wanted to get done. A fresh start is a good reminder that nothing is given in the coming year, and that one good year doesn’t guarantee anything in the next one.

If your year didn’t go as you planned it, then a fresh start is a great way to forgive your own past failures and shoot for a better year.

Setting Goals

As you’ve probably seen [we’re a big fan of using weekly goals] to keep yourself honest and focused on long-term efforts. Throughout 2019, I’ve experimented with having a bunch of these going – anywhere from 10 to 35 (?!) at various points throughout the year.

Part of this was, itself, an experiment testing our platform and exploring where weekly targets helped vs. where they did not. So I can’t recommend a good level (aside from saying 35 is too many). You might just want to do 1 thing each week, or maybe it’s 3, or 7, or 20. Whatever your situation, we still argue it’s critical to keep track and keep yourself honest.

I’ve had some goals that I’ve been keeping track of for a while. Case-in-point, here’s my weekly mileage goal for running, which I’ve apparently hit a whopping 41% of the time. That’s slightly embarrassing, but I’ve also run 3 marathons and set a personal best for my yearly mileage, so it’s not that bad. Safe to say my goals were a bit optimistic (and mixed in with dozens of other goals).

Many of my goals look like this at this point. I’ve been a bit more successful with a few of them, but it’s largely a mixed bag. You could say that this is what happens when you have a few too many goals!

Point is though, this presents a conundrum for 2020. These goals have all been a bit spoiled by my own shortcomings on them and there isn’t a clear goal to shoot for. Should I just try to improve on my 41.9% target hit rate? Sure, but that isn’t a clear and crisp vision of what I want to do.

Resetting for 2020

Given that, what I’ve done to reset for 2020 is pretty simple: go through each goal and rationalized it. Some where removed, some were cut down to easier targets, and some were kept pretty much as is.

Part of this was a reorganization that aggregates all the things I track daily into a single form that I’ll fill out at the end of the day. This then comes along with wiping the slate on a few of these goals and just starting fresh. Case-in-point: after hitting only 22% of weeks (13/59) on meditation, I’m happy to move on and start at 0 for 0 and forget about this year’s effort.

In addition, I’ve also made the target easier: just 20 minutes of meditating throughout the week rather than 30 minutes. I’ve tried to do this with other goals as well: start at levels that are eminently doable. This provides a good way to start with some positive reinforcement to get the momentum going and leaves room to make the goals tougher later in the year.

End of the day, this setup places me at 25 goals for the week. That may sound like a lot, but consider:

  • 5 of these goals are fitness related, and will automatically update as data comes through Strava and Apple Health
  • 4 of these are to ensure I make certain weekly entries into my journaling activities in WeAchieve
  • 5 more of these are taken care of if I follow a fairly straightforward morning routine
  • This leaves 10 more which are fairly evenly split between tracking and controlling vices (3), learning new things (4), and some weekly work-related steps I want to take (4)

Point being – 25 sounds like a lot, but none of these goals are all that burdensome beyond what I’d ordinarily do. That’s one of the biggest benefits of WeAchieve – enabling anyone to keep track of more than just a couple garden-variety goals.

Master the Week

One thing that I am going to try this year is attempting to complete one project and one experiment each week. I classify a project as something outside of normal work that I want to accomplish and that can be done within a single week. An experiment is some new process or routine that I want to try for a week.

Some projects I have on the slate include: renovating our bookshelf at home, finishing up a deep reinforcement learning project, finally brewing a batch of beer, and writing a good chunk of a book that I am “working” on. Some experiments include: no drinking for the week, no social media, going to bed/rising early, doing at least 1 random act of kindness each day, et cetera.

These will be some of the most important goals that I have on the slate. I hope to go 52 for 52 on these (though I’m building in “vacation weeks” for each).

Aside from the accountability that this provides, I’m also hoping that it helps focus me on a particular challenge. Given the multitude of things I have going on, I’ve found myself quite distracted between various projects, which seemingly means little headway is made on any of them.

Last Thoughts

All that said, this is my fresh start for 2020. I’m excited to have used what worked in 2019 and refine it and start with zeroes across the board. Hopefully this gives you some ideas about how you can reset for 2020 and get off to a great start to the year!

Oh, and of course: even though the year has started, it’s not too late to remake your year! A new week starts every Sunday in WeAchieve, so get your fresh start ready for January 5th.

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