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Happy New Year… and New Decade!
But, look: In terms of your goals and aspirations, January 1st is much the same as April 17th, or August 22nd. But that’s not how we tick: we put a lot of stock in the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one.
If nothing else, a “fresh start” is a useful thing. If you didn’t give yourself one a week or a month ago, you might as well do it at the new year.
With that in mind—that this is as good a time as any!—let’s talk about how to accomplish whatever it is we want to accomplish in the coming year.
The system that will take you in the right direction has three parts:
- The Target: what we usually think of as a resolution (“I want to run 100 miles every month”).
- The Strategy: how you’ll hit the target (“I’ll run three times a week in the morning, I’ll count my macros, I’ll change my diet in this way”).
- The Reason: why you actually want to do all this—the change you want to see in yourself (“I want to be a healthy and athletic person”).
Links and Resources Mentioned
- Podcast: 464: Why Would You Even Want to Start a Business?
- Blog: Time is personal. Your year changes when your life changes. | Derek Sivers
- Book: Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear
- Book: 12 Week Year Book
- Book: The Spider and the Fly (DiTerlizzi book) – Wikipedia
Note: This transcript of the episode was machine-generated by Descript and has not been edited for correctness. It’s provided for your convenience when searching. Please excuse any errors.
Dan: [00:00:00] And the reason we’re talking about have your goal, your target, and your strategy and break things down into 12 weeks cycles, and then inside the 12 week cycle, have a process where you review things every few weeks. That whole thing is just exploiting the framework of the calendar. You’re exploiting that to build a system that will take you in the direction you want to go.
Ben: [00:00:39] Good morning, Dan.
Dan: [00:00:41] Good morning, Ben.
Ben: [00:00:42] Do we say it? Happy new year?
Dan: [00:00:45] Oh, he said it. We didn’t even get to talk about whether we’d say it or not. Happy new year.
Ben: [00:00:50] Yeah, so we’re recording this. I think it’s important to, to let everyone know as a recording this, it is December 31st.
Dan: [00:00:58] 2019
Ben: [00:00:59] Yeah. 2019 so I dunno. I dunno if there’s some kind of bad luck thing with saying happy new year too early.
Dan: [00:01:07] I don’t think, I don’t think there is no.
Ben: [00:01:10] Yeah. So I’m, I’m cool with it, but by the time you’re listening to this, if you’re not in the community, it’s 2020.
Dan: [00:01:18] It is. It’s 2020 which when you and I were growing up, Ben was, was the future like when you read science fiction or whatever, it was always in 2020
Ben: [00:01:28] Well, I mean, okay, so back to the future too. We just spent the whole pre-show,
Dan: [00:01:34] talking about star Wars and now
Ben: [00:01:36] we’re, so we’re just, we’re on the movies like eighties nostalgia eighties and nineties. So, so in the, um. Yeah. And back to the future too. 2015 was when we had flying cars and animated holograms coming out of things and like
Dan: [00:01:57] I remember.
Ben: [00:01:58] order your Coca-Cola from a robot.
Dan: [00:02:02] And excuse me. Excuse me, Ben, you’re, you’re missing the most important thing, which is, where are my hoverboards?
Ben: [00:02:09] Hoverboards. And self-driving, like the clothes that dry you off, but then the shoes that I think they have the shoes that zip themselves now
Dan: [00:02:19] They probably do. I see kids rolling around on shoes with flashing lights. I don’t know what’s going on anymore.
Ben: [00:02:26] welcome to the future
Dan: [00:02:28] Yes. Welcome.
Ben: [00:02:30] where there, we’re still waiting on a lot of that stuff, especially the flying cars thing.
Dan: [00:02:35] But the, this is, this is, this is my favorite thing about science fiction though, is always what it gets wrong. Like. by 2020. We’ll all live on other planets while we’re not even close. Maybe, maybe Elon Musk has something up his sleeve. I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem like we’re all that close. But at the same time, there’s all this stuff we do have like smart phones that, uh, certainly some people did predict, but a lot of science fiction, you know, uh, never predicted stuff like that.
Except Willy and Gib, William Gibson. That guy’s on top of everything.
Ben: [00:03:08] Speaking of the star Wars movies watching through. It’s, it’s really funny. I’m watching through rogue one right now, and of course, well, if you, if you fall a star Wars, that movie takes place between the original three movies that were released and this, uh, they were at least in the 80s, right? Seventies and eighties.
Anyways, back then. Um, so that that movie in the timeline, it takes place between when those movies were released and when the most recent star Wars movies were released
and really like you, you kind of see it in the most recent star Wars movies as well. They, the, the representation of the technology is based on the, the stylistic.
Interpretations of what future technology would look like as they were imagined in the 70s and the 80s and so they, they look and feel kind of like analog, like more analog than you would think. Whereas movies that come out today, we’ll stylistically represent futuristic technology kind of based on am I, is this.
Dan: [00:04:27] You know what we’re doing. I think the problem has been we, we had such a good pre-show and we got so excited about star Wars and science fiction that we’re just carrying it over. Into their regular show. And the problem is now everyone who, you know, they got this in their podcast feed and it said, setting your 2020 goals.
They’re sitting there, they’re either sitting there going, what the heck is this? Or they’ve already stopped listening.
Ben: [00:04:49] Oh, you know what though? I have to,
Dan: [00:04:51] we’re starting off the new year strong.
Ben: [00:04:53] yes. Yeah, I’m sorry. I do. I do have to correct something I just said so that nobody gets mad at me. And thank you, Garrett, for pointing this out. Rogue one takes place before the first death star is built, so I, I apologize. It actually takes, it takes place before the original trilogy.
Dan: [00:05:13] Yeah, yeah. Or, or it, it might take place. No, no, that’s right. Yeah. It takes place before, because the. The plot of rogue one is they’re getting the death star plans and, uh, a new hope starts with Leah trying to deliver those plans.
Ben: [00:05:28] Yes. So that was my bad for all the star Wars fans screaming at your listening devices now anyways. No, I was, I was going off to the point that you were making that, you know, like, it’s funny to see what. How people predict technology, but you can’t, it’s, it’s hard to imagine things outside of what you are already familiar with.
So like having, having, uh, an entire computer in the Palm of your hand or wearing one on your wrist for that matter. It’s just, you know, who, who could think of that 30 years ago.
Dan: [00:06:04] Well, the, what’s fascinating is the people who do, right. But I think it comes from, you know, they’re, one of the mindsets is what would be cool. So like, you know, what would be cool? A flying car, we don’t know how to make those now, but the future is the future. So maybe in the future we’ll have flying cars, but the reason we don’t have flying cars is because that’s a terrible idea,
Ben: [00:06:23] Huh?
Dan: [00:06:25] you know?
Ben: [00:06:26] Minus, minus like, I think what the right, uh, peripheral technology. And infrastructure. It could be, it could work
Dan: [00:06:35] Well, yeah, but saying with the right infrastructure, all we would, all we need is a worldwide infrastructure to support flying cars. Oh, well, maybe that’s why it doesn’t exist. We’re doing it again, Ben. We got to start talking about goals. My goal for 2020 is to spend the whole year talking about science fiction though, because I love it.
Ben: [00:06:56] yeah. Yup. Okay, so goals. Well, let me, let me tell you, this is something Rachel and I do. Rachel’s my wife. We do this every year. I’m near the end of the year. We’re usually taking a long trip somewhere. Um, or if we, if we don’t, we set aside a couple of hours and we talk through our goals for, we talked through the goals that we set previously.
When you keep this in a document that we can, you know, go back and refer back to. And, um, and we talk about what happened the previous year and then we set our goals for the following year. And it’s been interesting to kind of go back and look at the evolution of those goals where before, you know, like I had, I had kind of, and we’ll get into this later in the show, but I had a lot of lag measure type goals where it like, I wanted to lose a certain amount of weight or I wanted to.
Mmm. Like have
Dan: [00:08:01] I have six
Ben: [00:08:02] written a certain number of now. Nope. That was never, that was never one of the goals. Um, but that is a, that is a lag measure. Um, obviously, so I, you know, to where now my focus is a lot more on the, on the things that, that I can commit to. That will produce the results that I want. And
Dan: [00:08:30] words, lead measures instead of lack.
Ben: [00:08:32] yeah.
And it’s, and it’s also been an evolution from what I would call resolutions, goals. And you could, I mean, some someone could say, well, aren’t those the same thing? Mmm. And I, I think in a lot of ways, resolutions and goals are very similar. But for me, mentally goals just has a different kind of, I think resolutions.
Um, I’ve had enough bad experience and enough negative connotation with the word resolution that that feels, that feels like setting myself up for failure. Whereas setting goals feels exciting and it feels like, Oh, this is something, I have a, I have a shot at. And I can always like, I can tweak my goals, I can, I can reset.
I can restart, you know? Whereas the resolutions, I think for me have felt a little bit more like the, the minute you fall off the horse on your resolution, you’ve failed the resolution for that year and you’re done.
Dan: [00:09:42] Right? Well, I let look when, whenever it comes to things like, these are choices of words, which are very . Important. I always love going to the dictionary definition, so I mean, let’s look at what, what does resolution even mean? And it means a forcible overthrow of a government or social or, no, wait, that’s a revolution.
Sorry, I was reading
Ben: [00:10:00] You’ve been, you’ve been waiting all morning.
Dan: [00:10:05] to do that. You don’t think that was spontaneous? . It wasn’t all morning, but it was the last couple of minutes. Now our resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. So yeah, that there is this absolute quality to it, and this is the, the stereotypical story is of a new year’s resolution is, I’m, I’m not going to eat chocolate anymore or I’m, I’m going to work out.
Five times a week and because, because those things tend to be so rigid and so absolute, um, it’s easy to, it’s easy to screw them up, right, because all you have to do, I mean, the problem with these things, like I’m, I’m, I’m not going to eat chocolate anymore. Well, okay. If, if just once, just once out of 365 days, you slip and you have a piece of chocolate.
That whole thing gets crumpled up and thrown in the garbage. Right. I think the problem with resolutions is, and it goes back to what you were saying about lead versus lag measures. They are, they’re like a cover up for the thing that really matters underneath, right? Like to be honest, it, unless you have a terrible, like a terrible allergy, it really doesn’t matter if you eat chocolate or not.
When you say, I’m never going to eat chocolate again, what you’re really, the reason you’re saying it is because you have some goal. Like, you know, I want to be healthier. Right? And. Now as, so let me ask you, is that, do you feel like the difference between resolutions and goals is that resolutions tend to take the form of an unrealistic expectations of yourself?
Like I’ll never have another piece of chocolate again. You can tell I’m hungry cause I keep using that example. Whereas goals are more of the underlying like I want to be healthier this year.
Ben: [00:12:07] So, so I think, I think for me, really. when I, when I think of the word resolution, I think of how it’s normally packaged around this time of year, new year’s resolution. And so it kind of comes with this attachment to this specific date. And, and the expectation, and this is, again, this is for me, this is, this is kind of how I’ve experienced.
The, the idea of resolution that it’s attached to this reset point that’s at the beginning of the year and it’s something that I resolved to do for the entire year and that it’s, it’s meant to not be broken. It’s, I am, I am resolved. And so it could be. It could be something that you might say as a goal, or you might think of as like, my resolution is to, is to be healthier.
Like there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think for me mentally is, it’s a matter of, and, and I don’t, I dunno, I don’t wanna I don’t want to come across as like, I’m just being realistic. I’m not being. I’m not being negative because I get that there’s power in making a decision to to do and stick to something.
But if you’re realistic and you say, I am going to slip on this at some point, I don’t think that’s setting yourself up for failure. I think that’s preparing yourself for reality and. If you, if you prepare yourself for reality, you can come up with a plan to mitigate that. So,
Dan: [00:14:03] think I’d say it’s quite the opposite, I think. I think the rigid resolution where if you, if you fail to do the thing you imagined, even once the whole thing goes down like a, like a stack of cards, house of cards, rather, that’s setting yourself up for failure.
Ben: [00:14:19] well, that’s, and that’s, and that’s what I mean, so. What, what resolutions don’t leave room for in my mind, is the reality of, of making a mistake, of slipping up, of failing
Dan: [00:14:32] Well. Well, how about this then?
Ben: [00:14:34] I think goals leave. What I think goals leave room for are the, the reality of potential failure and mistakes slipping up, life circumstances, whatever, and the ability to make a plan for.
When that happens to get back on track is as quickly as possible. And it takes, I mean, it takes some humility and I think just being able to be real with yourself, to recognize them in the first place. And then I think it also takes, it takes some grace and, um, and, and just not beating yourself up over.
Over making a mistake or slipping up because the, the faster you can forgive yourself, the faster you can get back on track toward your goals. So I feel like, I feel like resolutions just just creates that hard line goals. Leave open a lot of possibility.
Dan: [00:15:47] I think that the thing with a resolution might be that it’s a starting point, but that’s all it is. So whatever it is you resolve to do, you’re going, you’re going to need more than just a resolution to do it. You’re going to need. Plans, you’re going to need strategies and tactics,
you know, and I think the, again, you know, you’re not alone.
It’s basically a cliche that people create these new year’s resolutions on January 1st and then by February 1st they’re pretty much, they’ve pretty much finished, um, you know, in the chat. Garret, uh, our resident curmudgeon. Um, sad, new year’s resolutions are a marketing tool for gyms and he’s not wrong.
You know that there is a, there is a sort of cultural, almost a cultural imperative when the new year rolls around too, just to come up with, here are all the ways I want to be a different person. And now that it’s January now, now that it’s a new year, now that there’s a new number in the year. Position on the calendar that’s going to happen, I guess suddenly, but that isn’t how change works.
Ben: [00:17:07] Well, so, but I think, I think what gyms and, um, workout equipment, uh, manufacturers like. Diet programs. I think what they’re tapping into is what people believe about themselves, which is . Mmm. I don’t think, I don’t think they believe this incorrectly. I think it’s true. I can’t, I can’t stay committed to a resolution on my own.
I ended up failing by the end of the year. I’m very unhappy with what I’ve done and I got to, I mean, I gotta say like for, for my, my personal goals when it comes to health related stuff, I’m, I’m kind of unhappy with some of the choices I made this year, but I’m doing a much better job this year of giving myself grace.
But I needed help, you know? And I didn’t, I didn’t reach out for self. I didn’t really set myself up for success in terms of getting support around me. And so w what I think, what I think gyms are doing mostly is, is exploiting that. Like, you, you can’t do this on your own. You need us, you need a gym. We are the answer.
And, and for some people. You know, that is the community they get from being a part of a gym. Mmm. Can work. But I want to, I don’t know. I’m, I want to be really careful not to be too, Mmm. Down on or, or like harp on some of these things that have become standard in our culture, but I do, I do want to examine them.
And, and kind of like point at point out the reality. But for someone who’s who, who is listening to this, who is like, well, yeah, I, I joined a gym because I haven’t been able to do it on my own. Mmm. That, that can be a valid way to get help.
Dan: [00:19:33] Well, look, I, I, I agree with you that we don’t know . Sarah Lee have to tap, tap, dance, you know, tap dance on the sort of cultural backlash against new year’s resolutions. I was looking for a specific article before the show, and, uh, it had to do with basically why new year’s resolutions don’t work. And I typed that into a search engine.
And sure enough, there is, you know, from the last few years, there’s an endless stream of blog posts and articles about new year’s resolutions don’t work. Do this one thing instead, you know. Uh, cause that’s how you, that’s how you get the clicks. And, and I agree. Like we’re, we’re not here to just, uh, proliferate that.
But I, I think we, I think there’s, I think we’re expanding on that idea and just to, you know, to address the person who just signed up for a gym membership and is going, did I make a terrible mistake? No. Listen, if you want to get in better shape, going to a gym is a great way to do that. But understand that just because it’s January 1st you are not a fundamentally different human being than you were.
A week ago. And so if you are not, if you’re not yet the sort of person who goes to the gym regularly, don’t think that just going that just signing up is going to make you that person. Maybe for some people it will, but the statistics suggest not. I mean, I always, I hear this stuff at least anecdotally that like frankly, gyms make most of their money from people who buy memberships.
Keep paying the membership, but don’t actually use the facilities, which is not an, not an indictment of the, of the business model of gyms may be, but at the very least, I’m, I, I wanna I want to caution the people who are making these sorts of trades, you know, kind of traditional resolutions. It’s going to take more, it’s going to take a little more than just the gym membership.
What you’re going to have to do is build a system for yourself. That that includes, that might very well include a gym membership, but it’s also going to include things like, like you said, Ben, making it a social thing. You know, finding like a friend to work out with her or joining a, um, a class and getting to know people so that like now you have this, these layers of motivation where it once it’s March 17th and you don’t feel like going to the gym anymore, you still have a reason to keep doing it.
Ben: [00:21:52] You know, if, if there’s an episode that we. Should reference atomic habits. It’s definitely this one. If you, we’ve, we’ve talked about it so much on this show, but, um, at this time of year, a lot of people talk about the books that were the most impactful for them in 2019 and I’ve seen so many people share how atomic habits has changed their life because.
It addresses what you were just talking about, how you’re, you’re not, you’re not trying to, you’re not changing your habits is not as much about changing your behavior as it is about making a vote for who you want to be. And in the book, you know, illustrates that point really well. But the basic idea is every time.
Like this morning for example, I woke up and I could have gotten out of bed. I could have put my running shoes on, you know, it was a little bit cold outside, but I could have like, you know, put a jacket on and stuff, and I could have gone out for a run because one of the things that I want to do in 2021 of my goals is to run a hundred miles a month and.
This morning, I made a vote for the guy who stays in bed. Um, but after this podcast, I’m going to go down and I’m gonna, I’m gonna do a run on the treadmill. So hopefully my vote today ends up being for the guy who runs a hundred miles a month. Mmm. But it’s not. It’s not just like I made a goal and so, well, you know, we’ll see what happens.
Like if I want to be the guy who runs a hundred miles a month, I have to have a running schedule. I have to know when I’m actually going to log the miles. I have to have my, my, you know, running gear ready to go. Um, I need to do some research and learn more about like, higher mileage running and, and what it’s gonna take to do that.
So like, there, there are things that I need to make habits. I need to make part of my regular routine, um, to support that goal. And it’s, you know, it’s not just like, I’ll just, you know, throw some shoes on and go out for a run and hopefully. You know, get a hundred miles this month. Mmm. So anyways, atomic habits is a phenomenal book when it comes to learning how to effectively build new habits into your life that support who you want to be.
And, and I would say, if you haven’t read it yet. And you have some, some goals that you’ve been setting for 2020 you definitely need to read that book.
Dan: [00:25:14] Yeah, your 2020 resolution is pick up a copy of James clears atomic habits. That’s a not, not a sponsor, not a sponsor. But man, we, we love that book. It’s, it’s really good. Um, the, I, I want to hammer on the point she made a little more about the, this idea that is in the book and the idea is about identity based.
Habits that essentially when you make a resolution that you’re going to run a hundred miles a month, or you’re going to lose 20 pounds, or you’re going to, et cetera, et cetera. What you’re really saying is you want to become the type of person who runs. You want to become the type of person who watches their weight.
I don’t even like talking about weight. Who watches their health? Mmm. You know, who is, who is, who stays healthy, stays fit, you know, because weight is such a, um, a weak signal of what your health actually is. There’s all these other factors. But the, um, this thing about, it goes back to what I was saying about the thing is if right now you, you do not have the identity of being a person who runs regularly.
Claiming that identity might be the first step, but what you’re going to find is that you don’t suddenly change because of the calendar changed. That, you know, this is the thing is the thing with new year’s and new year’s resolutions is that you’re saying you’re, you’re, in a way, you’re saying, I want to be a different person.
You know, I want to be a person who runs. You’re not going to become that person. But you have all this evidence from maybe the whole rest of your life that you’re not a person who runs. You’re not going to suddenly become a person who runs just by saying that’s what you want to do. Instead, you have to build up, you know, as James puts it in the book, votes for your desired identity.
And the way you do that is by, by building habits, by doing these little things all the time. That leads you there, right? And so again, if you want to get more fit. Signing up for a gym membership is, is, is a pretty good first step, but steps two through 10 are go to the gym. I think there’s a straight out of the book actually, like start going to the gym three days a week.
And even if you go to the, if you don’t feel like working out, go to the gym and then get back in your car and go back home.
Ben: [00:27:28] Yeah.
Dan: [00:27:30] Because two things. One of them is, well, to be perfectly honest, if you go to the trouble of going to the gym, you probably will work out even if you don’t feel like it. But more importantly, you are building the identity of, I’m a person who goes to the gym three times a week and it doesn’t feel like it.
But building that identity is actually more important at first than doing the actual workouts. Cause one of them follows naturally from the other.
Ben: [00:27:59] I’m, that’s one of my favorite ideas in the book is, is the idea of starting, starting with the thing that you will do. You know, like as you, as you build your habit, maybe you don’t try to build a habit of going to the gym. You, you build a habit of putting your workout stuff on and like. That’s the first thing you do.
Or like if you’re, if you’re wanting to do more at home workouts, like maybe your habit is just do five pushups, you know,
Dan: [00:28:35] Yeah. Or just one, one pushup. You know? That’s, that’s the kind of thing he, James clear talks about. Like, it sounds ridiculous. You’re like, but doing one pushup isn’t gonna make me any more fit. Well, that’s not the point. What’s gonna make you more fit is building an identity as the sort of person who exercises.
And the way to build that identity is to just start by doing one pushup every day.
Ben: [00:28:58] I’m, I’m the kind of person who does a pushup every day.
Dan: [00:29:03] He’s, he’s grinning on the video feed. You can’t see it,
Ben: [00:29:07] Man, I, uh, I get, if I’m ever like down on the floor and my kids are around, somebody jumps on top of me,
Dan: [00:29:18] so yeah. Well, that’s good though, because then you’re doing weighted pushups. That’s even better.
Ben: [00:29:22] I’m doing, I’m doing at least three or four of those a day. Why am I down on the floor? Your guess is as good as mine.
Dan: [00:29:29] I, I just assumed it was cause you just tripped on a piece of Lego probably.
Ben: [00:29:34] I did that several times already today. So, um, so I want to talk about this idea of the new year, you know, and, and like you’re saying, just because just because, and a number was added to the year column doesn’t make you a different person. And I totally agree with that, but I want to make sure that. We’re giving people permission to see this as an opportunity to start something new and not, and not just saying, because it’s, it is kind of, and I’m totally guilty of this, I’ve, I’ve talked before, I think even on this podcast, about how January 1st is just another date on the calendar.
Like, what’s the difference between starting something on January 1st versus starting something on July 30 Beth or August 57th like the dates don’t, those are made up dates, by the way.
Dan: [00:30:48] Wait. There’s no 50 7th of August.
Ben: [00:30:50] No, thank goodness. Um,
Dan: [00:30:52] That’d be brutal. August as long enough as it
Ben: [00:30:55] it is. Yeah. It’s terrible.
Dan: [00:30:57] Yeah. Go on.
Ben: [00:30:58] So there’s a, there was a tweet that I saw yesterday or the day before. It was the day before yesterday from Charlie praying Lee, and I’m the, I’m, I’m just going to paraphrase. I know the new year’s arbitrary and all, but I love a fresh start and, uh, Lasha who I think.
is a community member also said, I hate that it’s become cool to hate on new year’s goals and resolutions because, Oh, why should it be different than any other day or month? Love a good reason to start fresh and and do purposefully uncomfortable things. Most people never do.
Dan: [00:31:40] I, I’d say, I’d say that like that there is, there is this cynical kind of thing. It’s like, you know, it’s cool to think that new year’s is lame, you know, bro, or something. My age is showing right now, but it’s, it’s like. If you never give yourself any opportunity for a fresh start or to reflect on how the last amount of time has gone, new year’s is a good opportunity to do that.
If you feel hemmed in by the requirement to do that at new year’s, and you would rather do it in July instead, Ben new year’s is just another day, right? Like. . It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s the the whole point. What’s actually important is taking that opportunity to reflect and to plan for what’s coming.
Ben: [00:32:28] Yeah. And, and I think it is kind of, there’s kind of a cultural thing, like a lot of people, are you using it as a fresh start? Um, it, it falls into the natural cycle for a lot of companies in terms of like measuring results and setting new goals. And so I think there’s, there’s, there’s a lot of momentum.
in many cultures behind this idea of starting fresh and, and so I think that, I think that does something psychologically to the person who, who feels like they’re, they’re taking on something that’s challenging but doesn’t, but because it’s kind of understood that, you know, like this is, this is a time when everybody’s really trying to start fresh and make a change.
People are generally more supportive and, um, and so like, I guess using, using fitness as, as an example again, Mmm. Somebody who’s, who’s trying to change the way they eat. For example, at some point in the middle of the year, hanging out with their friends and stuff like that, maybe they go out to a restaurant.
And they order something that is not usually what they would get. I think. I think that person is more likely to receive support and, and have the understanding of their friends,
you know, January 1st or like as, as a part of a new year’s resolution. Than they would normally, even just to the smallest degree. So I think, I think there is that, and I, I think it’s important for people to, you know, like you’re saying, Dan, not not to think that you’re suddenly, because of the new year, you’re, you’re going to be this completely different person.
Like, I think it’s really good to caution against that. Mmm. But I, I like the idea of there, there is a lot of momentum here. This is an opportunity and if as long as it’s an opportunity for a fresh start, why not take it and also take the one in July and also take the one in August, like who says? Who says you can’t have more of these moments throughout the year?
And that’s something that I want to get into as well.
Dan: [00:35:08] Yeah. Same here. So, uh, but before we get there, is there, uh, is there more to say about Charlie’s tweet and just, and other people expressing, you know, expressing a delight in having this opportunity to, to take a fresh start.
Ben: [00:35:24] Yeah. I think if you hear anything disparaging, don’t let that keep you from wholeheartedly. Giving yourself to this opportunity you see it for yourself as an opportunity to start fresh, and it could, if there’s any possibility that this could be a catalyst for you, then don’t, don’t listen to the haters.
I don’t, I don’t know if they’re haters. Maybe they’re just trying. I think this is where it’s coming from because most of us. Have set new year’s resolutions or set goals and have experienced failure and B discomfort and pain that comes from that. And so I, I think, I think in a lot of cases we’re just trying to protect ourselves, you know, like it becomes.
Dan: [00:36:26] it’s coming from a place of frustration and so you eventually, well, you know, in the end, the downside, the, the problem, and it’s the kind of thing that on this show we try to help people overcome is that what comes from being frustrated over and over again as a sense of learned helplessness, right?
Where you go. New year’s resolutions are stupid because they don’t work, and yet, I don’t know what else to do. I guess I’m just going to say that I want to be healthy again this year, but then just like every other year I’ll give up in February and it’s just going to go the same way it has been since 2002 and nah, like that’s where this is coming from.
Ben: [00:37:04] Yeah, absolutely. so I guess I take back the haters thing. I, I just, I don’t want you to be so afraid of failure. I don’t want you to feel like, Oh, it’s, it’s silly to use this as an opportunity to start fresh. It’s not, it’s not silly. This is an opportunity. It could be a catalyst. It could work. And, and I think when you, when you couple that optimism with some humility and some reality and actually planned for the reality that you’re going to fail, you’re going to mess up at some point.
Mmm. And that, that’s okay. You can, you can be graceful with yourself and you can give yourself. The path to get back on board with your goals, um, where, where in the past you might’ve given up on yourself completely. So, uh, anyways, I just, I just want to encourage people.
Dan: [00:38:07] Yeah. I think it’s, it’s very important. I F cause I have to talk myself out of this too. It’s very easy to get frustrated by thinking, you know, I’ve tried this in the past and it didn’t work, so why should it work? Now? Something that’s important to keep in mind is that you’re not the same person as you were even a year ago.
Your life is different. The world is different. And so for starters, it’s an, it’s entirely possible that if you do basically the same thing this year, you will have better results than you did in previous years. But then also you can also take the approach of how am I, what am I going to do differently?
And I think that brings us into, we have a couple of strategies to talk about, and you alluded to one of them before. Let’s talk about that now, which is the idea of you don’t just have to wait. Until the very end slash beginning of the year to plan your goals and try to figure out what you’re going to do.
And in fact, I’m going to make an argument that says, trying to plan in units of of one full year is not a good idea. And actually, uh, it’s much better to plan in smaller time increments.
Ben: [00:39:20] Yeah. Yeah. I would say that’s true for most things. I do want to, before we jump into this, I do want to add one more thing too, to the, the two things that you mentioned, because you talked about, I’m taking a different approach. Um, you know, like, what can you do differently and the fact that you’re a different person.
And then I think you can look at your previous efforts and shift the way that you think about them, uh, from, this didn’t work to, you know, to accomplish the ultimate goal that I had. Two, this brought me closer to. Something that I wanted to be, that I would have been if I hadn’t taken any action at all.
So like with my health stuff, if I look back over the past year, like yeah, I, I could have been, I could have ended in a better place, but it could have been a lot worse. And the fact that I was able to. You know, keep getting back on the horse, which I felt like this year I did so many times. Mmm. Really saved me from a lot of trouble.
So I think that shift is really important because it, it kind of acknowledges the fact that you did put forth some effort and that made a difference, even if it didn’t get you to where you want it to be. It made a difference. So going into what can you do differently? I love this idea of
not just having January 1st as a starting point, but having like a routine periodic assessment of how things are going and a reset of your goals. Um, and now I feel like if, I feel like if you do that too frequently, it can, it can become a little bit like, like, like if you’re doing it every week and saying, okay, I didn’t meet my fitness goals this week, but it’s a new week.
Let’s start over again. Like, I think you can, I think you can get to a place where it becomes kind of meaningless, but a long enough period of time to see results. Um, but short enough that it’s not like you’re waiting a whole year before you decide to get back on the horse.
Dan: [00:41:58] Well, I, I, let me, let me then introduce, uh, a system that I came across. Uh, there, there’s a book that I read last year, and sure enough, I put this into practice for the first couple months of 2019 and then fell off the horse. So there’s, there’s your example, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try it again.
There’s a book called the 12 week year, and we’ll put a link in the show notes to that. But just, just like something like atomic habits, it is a super tactical approach to this very problem. And basically the argument of that book is the trying to plan in units of a year is not effective, but, but I think as Ben pointed out, trying to like.
Trying to plan out at the, trying to plan at the level of goals at, at a granularity of just say a week is also not very effective because a week is not enough time to, for most goals that are not, you know, very, very small. A week is not really enough time to make substantial progress, right? And so, uh, you, you know, come up with your own version of this if you want, but the 12 week year, 12 weeks is about a quarter of a year.
And the, a, this book at least argues that that is a much better a system to work in, you know, for, for those of us who do seventh week sabbaticals. This actually fits pretty nicely because the idea there is you’re taking seven weeks of work and stuffing it into six weeks. Well, the six week period between one sabbatical and the next is a pretty good planning block.
And in fact. But reach over here off camera for a second. I recently printed out, we had our last at Shawn West. We had our last sabbatical weekend, December, and I sat down and I printed out a little calendar of the upcoming six weeks until the next sabbatical, so I can glance at that and go, well, okay, my weekly responsibilities are to do the members only podcast on Monday and this podcast on Tuesday.
And then what are other things that I want to get done in this six week block? I think if you, yes,
Ben: [00:44:13] Oh no, I was, I was just saying Dan was just for listeners, was holding a piece of paper. It looks like it was printed in black and white
Dan: [00:44:22] it was.
Ben: [00:44:23] versus having actual color cause nobody who prints in color. Uh. Yeah, just just on plain white paper. This calendar printed out and it looks like he had written some stuff in it and had some lines just trying to describe it visually for the people who are not actually seeing it because, because you were holding it up to the camera.
Dan: [00:44:44] I was, well, we’ll actually have a video feed at some point and then we won’t have to.
Ben: [00:44:49] It’s good practice.
Dan: [00:44:50] It’s pretty good. It’s good practice. Yeah. Uh, so I, I think that, you know, the six week block is good, but then going a little further, if you, if you want to make like pretty, pretty a good chunk of progress on a lot of different types of goals, you’re, you’re going to need something more like 12 weeks, which is about three months, which is about a quarter.
And that’s a pretty good time block in which to. Come up with what do I want to have done at the end of the 12 weeks? And then you can every week evaluate how you’re doing.
Ben: [00:45:28] I think I, I remember reading that book actually, and one of the things I think I’m remembering it talking about was this idea that most of us try to, like, we set goals for things that we want to accomplish in a year. That if we, you know, like. Did it the right way we could actually accomplish within 12 weeks.
Dan: [00:45:53] That’s right. Yes. It does make that point. Yep.
Ben: [00:45:56] And, um, and that sounds, that sounds a little bit intimidating, but the year in which I read that book, I tried to implement that and we had, I think I was going off of kind of like a six week check-in. Um, w w you know, I had a, I had a weekly check in and then every six weeks I may have done an every three week as well.
I’m trying to, I, I’ll have to look back at my notes, but, um, yeah, it was having, having that kind of consistency. And that frequency of, of checking on things and, and seeing my progress and seeing, you know, where I was landing in relation to my targets actually did a lot for me. I ended up getting a lot done and I’ve, I fell off the wagon of doing that a little bit.
Mmm. But I think especially for. For people who have a difficult time. Like when you, when you think about something that you want to accomplish within a year, and this is, I don’t know, like there, there are different types of goals. So this isn’t necessarily like, I want to write a book in a year or, no, no, no, sorry, this, this is the kind of, this is the kind of thing, like, I want to write a book in a year versus, Mmm.
I want to read for 30 minutes a day or, or something like that. You know, like if you have a specific goal that you’re trying to accomplish, that you’d like to do with any year, I think it’s, I think it’s worth asking yourself like, okay, so I think this will take me a year. How could I get this done in 12 weeks?
What would, what would it take to get actually get this done in 12 weeks? And, and to kind of deconstruct it.
Dan: [00:48:02] There’s, there’s a general thing that you’re talking about there that we should touch on, which is this idea of backwards building, because this is the other part of it, is that the kind of goal that you come up with for a whole year is almost by definition. Going to be vaguely defined and have a bunch of tiny little pieces to it.
So if you want to, if you, yeah. Nobody, well, okay. You talked before about like lead versus lag measures, and a lead measure is read 30 minutes, read for 30 minutes a day. A lag measure is, I want to have read 100 bucks.
Ben: [00:48:39] Yeah.
Dan: [00:48:40] Mmm. And you know, there’s the, the problem, problem with lead versus lag measures in, in actually coincidentally, both atomic habits and the 12 week year talk about this very topic.
So I will leave a more in depth discussion of lead versus lag measures to, to those books if you want to check them out. Uh, for the listener, for what we’re talking about here though, I think you, you set. The goal that you set for a whole year is going to look a bit more like a lag measure. Like, I want to be a novelist, or I want to, I gained 20 pounds of muscle or lose 50 pounds of fat, or something like that.
The way that you get there, these smaller goals, when it’s time to get tactical. That’s when you start thinking about, uh, your lead measures and, and with a system like the 12 week, 12 week year or anything else, you’re going to start with a big goal for the year and then you backwards build, you go, okay, well if by the end of the year I want to have written a book or I want to have run a hundred miles a month for a certain number of months, how am I going to get there?
Okay, how will I, what do I have to do every day? Quarter to have gotten there. What do I have to do every month that have gotten there? What then? What do I have to have done every week? And now you’re operating at the level of your lead measures, right? So if you say, I want to be, you know, I, I w I want to be the smartest person at every party by the end of the year.
That might break down to every week saying, well, I’m going to read for 30 minutes a day because reading 30 minutes a day means that I will plow through 100 bucks. Which will make me the smartest person at the party.
Ben: [00:50:33] What does that mean? Being the smartest person at the party.
Dan: [00:50:36] I think you know what it means.
Ben: [00:50:40] I’m not, I’m not sure if I do. Okay. So,
so if I’m looking through my goals, I actually, so we’d like, we typed all of them out and I have
Dan: [00:50:52] Okay. And you’re saying smartest person at the party isn’t on there.
Ben: [00:50:56] no, no, it’s
Dan: [00:50:57] Your aspirations are very different from mine. Apparently.
Ben: [00:51:00] Yeah. So there, there, they’re actually two things. I’m specifically talking about the reading thing. I think like there’s, there’s the idea of the lead measure because it would be, it’d be nice to get to the end of the year and have read a hundred books, but, but the lead measure is spending time reading.
Like that’s, that’s it. And so. You know, I, I don’t know how many, well, and this is something too, like you have to set goals based on what you can actually quantify. Because I can read, I actually, you know what, I’ll, I’ll brag on myself a little bit. I read a hundred books a year, maybe closer to like 250 maybe even 300 books a year.
Dan: [00:51:54] Really,
Ben: [00:51:55] I do.
Dan: [00:51:55] you must be the smartest person at the party. Then,
Ben: [00:51:59] Well, they’re children’s books. So,
Dan: [00:52:01] let’s see.
Ben: [00:52:02] so that’s, that’s the thing,
Dan: [00:52:04] trying to keep one step ahead of, uh, of your kids is what you’re trying to do.
Ben: [00:52:07] exactly. Lots, lots of, uh, lots of lessons in there about being kind and not being a bully and sharing.
Dan: [00:52:18] Those are great, good lessons.
Ben: [00:52:19] yeah. Uh, gosh, we, uh, we read the spider and the fly last night. And, uh, that whole, the whole time you’re like, I don’t want to spoil it for I, I’ll, I’ll go in and spoil it. The fly gets eaten by the spider
Dan: [00:52:35] What.
Ben: [00:52:36] the whole time.
You’re like, fly, don’t go in there. And the spiders like Komen to come into my layer and the flies like, no, I can’t.
Dan: [00:52:45] That’s like the frog and the scorpion thing.
Ben: [00:52:48] Was that a thing too?
Dan: [00:52:49] Yeah. There’s, there’s the parable of the frog and the scorpion
Ben: [00:52:54] There’s one with no, I’m not going to talk about it, so
Dan: [00:52:59] after show Ben after
Ben: [00:53:00] I don’t, I don’t, I don’t know how many hours it takes to read a hundred books because one book could take me five hours to read in another book, could take me seven hours to read. One type of book could take me three hours to read and a book of the same number of pages and words could take me 10 hours to read because it’s so, uh, in depth and it’s, you know, like nonfiction stuff that I really have to concentrate and pay attention to.
So like, that’s it. That’s a terrible way to measure. The success of your goals is by. A certain number of books because it’s so hard to quantify what it actually takes to reach that.
Dan: [00:53:48] okay.
Ben: [00:53:50] But, but I think, you know, like if you, if you back up a little bit, wanting to read a hundred books is not as much about actually having read a hundred books as it is about being the type of person who reads a hundred books a year.
Dan: [00:54:05] Yeah. We got back to that identity thing.
Ben: [00:54:07] Yeah. And. And being the type of person who reads a hundred books a year is a lot more about the time that you spend reading every day and that that needs to become the thing that you focus on, that that needs to become the goal.
And then you get to the end of the year and you say, okay, I only read 95 books this year. I wanted to read a hundred but I only, I only did 95. Failure, but I did, but I did read for an hour every single day, so maybe, you know, maybe you’re on to something
Dan: [00:54:48] I think you’ve dug up, you’ve really dug up something here. There’s cause there’s three, there’s like three different things and you’re going to need all of them. One of them is the underlying identity. I want to be well read, well informed. For example.
Then there is the target and the target is arbitrary.
The target is I want to have read 100 books and lastly there is the strategy, which is how am I going to hit the target.
You need all three of these things, but you gotta make sure you don’t get hung up on the wrong one, right? Because if you read 80 books instead of a hundred and you go, I failed. I feel terrible.
This was a waste of time. You’re missing the point because the point wasn’t really to read a hundred books. That was just the target. The purpose of the target is to just move you in the direction of the actual goal, which was to be a well-read person.
Ben: [00:55:57] Right?
Dan: [00:55:58] So I’m going to say you, you need all three of those things.
Actually, you should have the target, like for fitness, for example. Maybe your goal is to be able to do a two plate deadlift. Well, being able to do a to play dead lift is arbitrary. Who cares. You know, if you can lift whatever, what is a two plate? Dead lift is like 200 and something pounds
Ben: [00:56:20] two two 25 if you’re talking about.
Dan: [00:56:23] Yeah, standard plates, Olympic barbell, that kind of thing.
Okay. You can lift 225 pounds. Well, what there’s no difference between being able to lift two 25 and one 87 or two 72 like the number’s arbitrary. What you really want is to be like a. Uh, you know, conspicuously fit person, for example, or you want to be functionally fit, you know? But a great way to become a functionally fit is to have a target and then implement strategies that will move you towards the target.
Ben: [00:56:58] Right. So, well, doing that exercise and strengthening those, those muscles and putting in repetitions and following a strategy for. You know, improving the amount that you’re able to lift, doing, doing those things and making and that’s, I think, I think it’s good to have something in mind to aspire to, but I love that you’re like, you’re calling out all these alternative motivations because, well, why?
Why do you want to be stronger? Or why do you want to be conspicuously fit. What is it? What is it about that? Um, and there’s, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I think it’s just a good question to ask because it’s like, well, I just, I want to, I want to be stronger because this was, um, I saw this on Facebook, someone.
So they overheard a conversation between these two guys and one of them was like, I want to go to the, I really need to go to the gym more because I want to get stronger because I want to be that guy.
Dan: [00:58:11] That guy.
Ben: [00:58:12] And what he meant was, I want to be that guy that like when somebody is like, they, they need to move and they need someone to come help carry the heavy stuff.
Like he’s the guy they call.
Dan: [00:58:24] You know, I actually have said basically the same thing that like one of the reasons I want to get more fit is like I want to be able to help my friends move without like needing a week to recover after like. I just like, I want to be physically capable in that space, in that way. But you know what you’re saying is, yes, it is worth going a level deeper and asking yourself, why do you even want these goals, right?
Because there are reasons for wanting a certain thing that are healthier and less healthy than others. Right? And especially when it comes to physical stuff. A lot of us have these hangups that drive us to say. You know, I’ve got to, I’ve gotta be, I’ve gotta be like big, strong, you know, muscular guy because I’m in S, you know, and, and the real reason is because I’m insecure, you know, or I have to lose a bunch of weight, like losing a bunch of weight cause you’ll be healthier and live longer is a great idea.
Losing a bunch of weight because you can’t stand the sight of yourself is problematic.
Ben: [00:59:26] right? Yeah. So it’s, and I think, I think it’s good too. Have that kind of introspection and try to drive to the deeper reasons that you have these goals. Because I think it helps you identify places where you might be undermining yourself. So if I really like, if I w if I want to, I’m going to do it to myself.
I want to run a hundred miles a month. Why do I want want to run a hundred miles a month?
Dan: [01:00:01] It’s a good question. What are you running from then? That’s a real question.
Ben: [01:00:05] So many things, Stan.
Mmm, aye. I want to have better cardiovascular health. That’s definitely on the list. Um, I, I, to be honest, I do want to lose weight. I want to run a marathon because I want to be. The kind of person who has run a marathon
Dan: [01:00:33] Fair enough.
Ben: [01:00:36] because that, that’s significant. I think maybe there’s, you know, there’s some something there about like wanting to be able to point to one, just wanting to have something else to point to as like, this is the thing I did, and, and that makes me maybe a little bit more significant in some way. Mmm. So gosh, I’m like, I’m going to have to sit down and write about this or something, but if, but if I’m, if I’m digging it, all of those things and the cardiovascular health, for example,
like if, if that really is important to me, there are other habits that I have that are not related specifically to running, but that, that do.
Influence that specific aspect of my goal, and that’s the kinds of foods I eat. If I really care about my cardiovascular health, that’s going to have to be reflected in other habits and goals as well, so that I’m not, you know, or maybe. Maybe one of the reasons I’m running so much is so that I can eat whatever I want without having to worry so much about how it’s affecting my health.
Dan: [01:01:57] That makes sense. That makes sense.
Ben: [01:01:59] But you can’t outrun a bad diet. That’s what the, that’s what the coaches tell me anyway.
Dan: [01:02:04] Yeah, I’ve heard that. Well, yeah. You know, it’s, it’s, there’s something there though, light, because you can’t outrun a bad diet. But the other thing is. You know, the other side of it is you can’t out die at a bad lifestyle. I think. I think the default, there’s kind of a default in our society, maybe less so as people become a little bit more aware of, of things about fitness.
And not that this is a fitness podcast, but you know, it just struck me when you said that, that, uh, I think most people try to control their diet but don’t get any exercise and it, that puts a, a pretty, pretty strict limitations on what you actually. Achieve, you know what you can actually get. So you can’t outrun a bad diet, but you can’t out diet a bad lifestyle either.
Uh, you really do. You need both. And so the, the thing though is like, so let’s go back to this idea of a target, a target to take you towards your goal. You know, an effective target has side effects. That’s a good reason to have it. So one reason too, let’s say that your nutrition isn’t where it should be and you wish it were better.
And you find it hard to change that. Well, having a target of I wanna run a hundred miles a month among other things is going to require you to succeed at that, to hit that target, you will probably also have to change your nutrition among all the other things you do, right? Because you’ll find that you’re not able to be an effective runner without having your nutrition.
Right. So I’m coming back to this idea of, you know, it’s not about abandoning. Resolutions. It’s not about saying that the targets don’t matter and you should focus on the habits you really need to build your system, your system that will carry you in the direction you want to go. You need to build that system out of all the different parts of this thing.
You’ve got your, you know, your long, your, your underlying goal, your target that you want to hit, and then the strategies that will take you to that target.
Ben: [01:04:03] Yeah. And then maybe adding a number four to that is, is this mentality of if I, if I make a mistake, that’s okay, I can reset, I can restart. I can even adjust my strategy to make, to make, you know, my work toward the goal more attainable.
Dan: [01:04:34] I’ll, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll say that even more forcefully. Expect to have to adjust your strategy. This is a, this is, I think another very common way that we, uh, we, we, we hurt ourselves when we do stuff like this, is that we come up with an idea that we think will work and then we try it. And when we, and when it doesn’t work, we abandoned the whole project cause we go, I expected that to work and it didn’t.
Ben: [01:04:58] Yeah. W what you’re doing is an experiment. Well, I’m trying to think of like what the opposite or or what the, what the different, like a different term. Um, if, if you’re treating it like I came up with this plan and if this plan doesn’t work, that means nothing will work. And, and that mentality is like, you’re, you’re not thinking of it as an experiment.
You’re thinking of it as like.
Dan: [01:05:28] Well, it’s, I, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s too absolute. It’s like, it’s, this is my one and only chance. W we were talking yesterday, uh, we did the fired up Monday is show for the community. So people in the community ask questions and we answer them live on the show. And one of the questions was about trying to come up with a, uh, our customer avatar for the people who had listened to a podcast so that you could figure out what those people’s pain like pain points are, so that you could come up with topics for the show.
And. To be honest, the advice I gave was the song Sean has said before the, these are his words, you, or at least that’s where I heard them first. You can’t steer a parked car. You can’t expect to come up with the perfect plan and then start to take action. You have to understand that your strategy. Is a response to reality.
So you can come up with some things. You’re going to try to hit that target we talked about, but you really do, like you just said, Ben, have to treat it as an experiment. So you try those things and if something isn’t working, you adjust.
Ben: [01:06:39] Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, and it’s important too, to like give it a fair shake. And I think this goes back to what we were talking about with the frequency, you know, like if you’re, if you’re trying it for a week. And things, things are not going to way that you expected them to or wanted them to. You know, like if, if it’s, if it’s really obvious that something needs to change, then you know, fine, change it.
But like, don’t give up on yourself too quickly. Let things play out a little bit, you know, give yourself three weeks or six weeks and then say, okay. This and this and this weren’t working. Or maybe you don’t know what wasn’t working, but you know it didn’t work. And, and you can, you know, try to poke holes and say, okay, well I’m just gonna I’m going to try something else.
I don’t know. And, and I do this all the time, like, especially when I was doing more web development, sometimes you don’t know what’s not working. And so you just kind of have to like turn things off, turn things back on, delete a line of code at a backend like until you, until you figure out, okay, this was, this was what was happening the whole time.
But it’s the, the mentality is like, it’s okay to experiment. It’s okay to, to try new things and to adjust and tweak. And, and not to, and not to feel like this, this code should execute right out of the box, you know, cause that, that’s never how that
Dan: [01:08:24] No, no, that’s really the struggle is real. Ben struggle is real, but now you know what you’re bringing up now. Now is the time to remember that we, we also have to. You know, we’re talking about zooming into periods that are shorter than a year, but we also have to remember this is about the lens. I guess that’s the metaphor, the lens you use to look at, at what you’re trying to do.
You also have to zoom out to, uh, the, the bigger picture and remind yourself that whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish, the fact that you are using the framework of the year is arbitrary. Because. You know, hopefully you’re not, your life isn’t over at the end of 2020 the so trying to get something done yet, you know, if you’re, when you feel frustrated that you spent the first three months of the year trying something and it didn’t really bear fruit, and so then you adjusted and tried something else for a month or two more.
And you’re still, it’s your, it’s struggling, it’s working a little better, but you haven’t quite figured it out. And then you sort of fell off the horse in the middle of the year and you know, now you’re sitting there and it’s like September and you’re thinking, I’m most of the way through the year and I haven’t gotten anywhere.
You know, it makes it, again, it makes it easy to throw away the whole project. That’s the time to remind yourself that again, if you said, I want to. You know, I want to be a marathoner by the end of the year. I want to have written a book by the end of the year. If you haven’t run a marathon or written a book by the end of the year, you’re not a failure because again, that was a target.
The point is to become this person and this, this gets, this gets into a bit of a deeper topic about self acceptance. The fact is it might take you more than a year. To become that person. So the, the point of putting things in the framework of the year of, of the year, and the reason we’re talking about like have your goal, your target and your strategy and break things down into a 12 week cycles.
And then inside the 12 week cycle, have a process where you review things every few weeks. That whole. That whole thing is just exploiting the framework of the calendar that, you know, we humans use to think about time. Basically you’re exploiting that to build a system that will take you in the direction you want to go
Ben: [01:10:59] Yeah,
Dan: [01:11:00] as, as long as you’re doing that and you’re taking yourself in that direction.
This, this is, I feel like, if anything, this is like my theme for the year is. To not expect a given outcome of that process, but to just focus on the process.
Ben: [01:11:19] yeah. You know. You talked about, Mmm. Becoming that person and, and the identity piece. And I think it’s, I think it’s really powerful too. Give more weight to the, the daily and weekly like this, the smaller scale activities as, um, as evidence of an identity. And less weight to the outcome of those activities.
Now, if you write a book, most people would think of a finished book as a big piece of evidence that you are an author, but in your mind, I think it can be really powerful to think of, I’m an author. If I right for an hour every single day, whether I have a book or not to point to, you know, having that commitment and actually being able to point to the last 30 60 90 days that I’ve written for an hour every single day.
That’s stronger evidence of this identity that I want to have. That I think writing a book will give to me. You know, like I th I th I think you should give yourself permission to take on that identity sooner as, as you are doing the things that that person would do and not in a way that’s like, you know, you go around at parties.
I don’t go to parties, Dan, I’m just assuming you do because you talked about being the smartest person at the party.
Dan: [01:13:13] No, I was, I was lying. I don’t go to parties either.
Ben: [01:13:16] So when you go to these parties and people are like, what do you do? And you’re like, Oh, well, I’m an author. Oh, cool. W what book? You know, like I, where can I get your book? I get, I get that. Uh, I get that mentally. It’s like, Oh, if I can’t, like if somebody asks me that and I don’t actually have a. Book to point them to a, can’t really, can I really say that I’m an author, so like there’s, there’s some validity there, but I’m just saying more for yourself.
Allow yourself to take on that identity based on the things that you do and give them more weight to that versus the ultimate outcome of those lead measures. Not that, not that having a book sitting on your shelf with your name on it isn’t strong evidence. Yeah. Like if you looked over at your bookshelf right now and there was a book with your name on it, you know, like you would feel Mike, that strong sense of identity, but give yourself the gift of feeling, that sense of identity from doing the things, because that is what’s going to eventually put that book on your shelf.
Dan: [01:14:34] Here’s another reason to do what you’re saying. it comes from something Sean and I talked about in a recent episode. Four 64 which is called, why would you even want to start a business? And th this was a call. We posted it as an episode of the Sean West podcast, but this was part of a call that Sean and I had and I wanted to get his perspective on that question we were talking about, among other things, the, the problem of enough and how, how easy it is to think that you want something, but.
If you, if you want it for what I will call for now the wrong reasons, you’re going to run into this problem that even when you get the thing, it won’t be enough. And so one reason that I think it’s actually better to put your identity on the, the little things you do every day rather than the big goal you’re trying to achieve, is that if your identity is fixated on this big goal.
You’re going to run into this problem of when you achieve the goal, you’ll find that the goal wasn’t enough. You know? So, so the problem is it, if you’re, if you’re, if you’re like, I got to write a book so I can think of myself as an author, you know, so I can be an author. I gotta write this book, I gotta write this book.
I got to write this book. And then you write the book. And you think what? You think you’re going to step through a gateway and now the rest of your life will like, you’ll always be happy and satisfied and fulfilled, but that’s not how it works. You write the book and then now the next thing you’re worried about is, is the book successful?
And if the book isn’t successful, sure. You get to think of yourself as an author because you wrote a book, but now you’re an unsuccessful author. You know you are, you got to write more books. You got, you gotta write more books in the books after perform better. And the, and your identity keeps being bound to these things that are, that are a, that are largely out of your control.
And B, it’s never enough, right. Much better to let your identity be based on the sort of quiet little while. You know what, every day I write. And that’s, that’s really what matters. And the books and how the books perform in the market, that will all take care of itself.
Ben: [01:16:51] Absolutely. You know, I, I, I think if as we were talking about this, I think of the phase that I, why I don’t want to just call it a phase because I still very much want to produce documentaries
and. And I S you know, like I’m still kind of turning that over and trying to figure things out. A couple of episodes ago we talked about, um, how getting getting into a full time job and kind of suddenly having that freedom to say, maybe I don’t want to do this, or maybe I want to do that.
Um, so, so I’m still definitely still sorting things out, but. I have, I’ve, I’ve made a documentary and I can point to it and I can be like, yeah, I made that thing. But in the two years since then, I haven’t put in even half the amount of work that I put into the three months that it took me to create that one documentary.
And it’s, and so for me to call myself a documentary film maker is honest in the sense that I’ve produced a documentary and I have intentions of making more, but it’s dishonest in the sense that I’m not taking any action from day to day in order to make that happen. And I’ve, you know, like I have to be honest with myself about that.
Um, and so like, I just, I, I S I say that to further solidify this idea that like, it’s so tempting to draw your, to want to draw your identity from the result of those smaller daily actions. Really, I think the smaller daily actions just carry a lot more weight.
Dan: [01:18:57] Yeah. Just to you, you’re saying it’s, it’s tempting to want to put your identity on the big, the big thing, right? Like the big outcome. Like I made a movie, I made a film, I made it, I wrote a book, I ran a marathon, but. it’s better to, if you’re going to identify with anything, you know, you’re trying to find the right words for this.
Like you’re, you’re a person, you know, you are,
Ben: [01:19:28] Thank you.
Dan: [01:19:29] you’re welcome. I just felt like you needed to hear that. But, but seriously, I, I, it’s, it’s. It’s important to like come up with this identity that you want to embody, but at the same time, it’s very important to accept yourself regardless of, of, of what happens.
Like you hear stories like this all the time where, I mean, you know, it’s, it’s an adage that’s as old as, as human beings really, that like, you know, be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. Um, you hear a lot about people achieving something that you might think is maybe what they always wanted.
And maybe it’s what you always wanted. And yet they are, they’re unhappy, they’re unfulfilled, they’re restless. And this I think is because eventually you can’t rely on your identity being dependent on these externalities. Like
if you’re going to embody, if you’re going to go, well, I want to be an author.
But if it turns out that you write 20 books and none of them become New York times best sellers, does that crush you? You know, does that send your life spiraling into a depression? Well then, you know, I think you’re looking at identity the wrong way. Like your real identity is you’re just a person, you know, and then you can choose what to do.
Ben: [01:20:54] Yeah. And I liked that it kind of in some ways takes the pressure off of not that, not that we shouldn’t be aspirational, not that we shouldn’t want to have a new York’s New York times bestseller. Mmm. But I, I think more often than not, the people who achieve those things are the people who are more. Who, who draw more of their identity from the doing of the thing than actually being the New York times bestseller and, and that’s, I don’t know, it’s, it’s hard because like if you make that case, it’s like, Oh, okay, then I’m gonna.
If I, if I really want to be in New York times bestseller, I’m going to draw my identity from like, no, you, you, you kind of have to do the work of like. Is this really what you want to do? If you, if you want to get a million subscribers on YouTube and that’s your, and that’s your goal, you’re most likely going to fail because what you, what you should be getting your identity from is that you are a YouTuber.
You are, you are a person who uploads consistently, who creates value for other people. And that’s what you, that’s what you love. And then out of that activity can come these, you know, really cool results, like getting a million subscribers or whatever, but like, it’s so, it’s so difficult because
it’s a cultural thing, like most of what is celebrated. Are the results of people who have found their identity doing the small things, but not, but not the small things themselves. Like people, people aren’t looking at mr beast and saying, Oh, he’s uploaded a video. He’s uploaded three videos every week for 10 years.
That’s awesome. You know, like nobody’s looking at that. There’s, they’re saying, Oh wow, he’s got 10 million subscribers. You know? Like that’s the thing that people are focused on.
Dan: [01:23:25] Yeah. Again, it’s that difference between the target, the the goal, the target, and the strategy. I think that’s really the framework that we want to. You know, we want to impart along with, you know, sorta with what you’re saying, that all the, the thing is too, all this stuff is arbitrary. You know, thinking that you have to accomplish stuff in a calendar year is arbitrary thinking that your identity is based on being an author or a YouTuber or a runner is arbitrary.
It’s it, it can be a useful tool, but, but it is just a tool.
Ben: [01:23:58] Right?
Dan: [01:23:59] You know, it doesn’t, it doesn’t define your life. I want to give one more tactical thing and then we’ll, and then I think we’ll wrap this up. There’s, I got a great suggestion recently about recording the things you do, like keeping a record and you could do that.
Um, yeah. However, whatever works for you. Uh, one person, a podcast or I was listening to was saying, she does it every three weeks because any more often than that, she hasn’t really accomplished anything substantial. But three weeks is about enough time to look back and go, Hey, I got this
Ben: [01:24:31] Uh huh.
Dan: [01:24:32] Mmm. Uh, but you could do it weekly.
Um, the person who first suggested this to me. Uh, mentioned doing it daily, like he’s G, he’s kept a daily log. And as he points out, and this is pretty remarkable, he can jump back to any day in the last 15 years and tell you what he did that day, which is pretty insane. But, eh, you know, if you do that even a little, the nice thing about it is w everything we’ve talked about so far in this episode is forward looking.
It’s talking about what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to accomplish it. The great thing about having that record and being able to look backwards is it tells you what you did accomplish. It tells you, you know who like who you were, and that’s a very important tool for trying to plan what you’re going to do, who you want to be.
Ben: [01:25:30] Yeah. And every time. Every time . I think about fitness stuff and wanting to set new health goals and that kind of thing. Mmm. I don’t do a great job of record keeping, but what, what records I have been able to keep either through apps or in written form from time to time, provide evidence of what works and what doesn’t work.
And, and every time I arrive at that, that point where I’m going to assess and make new goals and reset, I’m, I’m just just a little bit clear on how to get there and how to do so most efficiently because I have something that I can look back on. And so yeah, I can’t recommend that enough. Like, and that’s, that’s something.
Um, I am kind of making a goal for this year is to do a better job of documenting. Um, and it kind of, it kind of goes hand in hand. Like if you write down your plans ahead of time, you have something to, you have something to refer to as you’re, as you’re going along, but you also have a place to record how things actually went.
Did you follow that plan. And, and sometimes I think we just get lost in, you know, like we, we don’t, our, our minds don’t do a great job of giving us good recollection of what we actually did. So, like, it’s, it’s almost as if our intentions,
Dan: [01:27:13] We’re real bad at it.
Ben: [01:27:15] yeah. It’s almost as if our intentions over time become. What we recall as our actions and when we fail, we think it’s because the action failed, when in fact, a lot of times it’s because we never, we never took something from intention to action and we didn’t give the action a chance to, to see whether or not it would lead us to success.
Dan: [01:27:45] Yeah, I’ve heard, I’ve heard it said that the human brain evolved to forget things, not to remember them.
Ben: [01:27:51] Yeah, so, so if you’re not, if you’re not recording it, it’s really hard for you to have a clear picture of whether or not the, the plan that you had was sound like, was this a good plan? If you don’t, if you don’t record what you did, it’s going to be difficult to make that determination.
Dan: [01:28:10] That’s right. That’s right. Do you have it? Did you have any other points we haven’t touched on yet?
Ben: [01:28:14] No, I think we actually touched on everything in some way or another. So.
Dan: [01:28:19] That’s awesome. Cool. I think this has been a really a really good episode. I, I wanna I want to end it on this point, which, which is kind of my, uh, I, I came across one last thing that I read recently. Uh, someone was talking about having a theme instead of our resolution and people in the chat earlier were talking about having a word for the year.
Instead of a resolution for the year. And I really like, I like this idea and the thing I wrote down in my notes before the show, I said, for this year, I want to be more deliberate that is more organized and using specific tools, but less attached. In other words, I want to expect, like I said before, I want to expect all these little strategies and plans I have to not go smoothly and to be okay with that.
And so instead of this all or nothing thinking of, I have these goals and I’m going to do X and Y and Zed, and then after a few months when I’m not doing X or Y or Zed anymore, like all like, like every other time, instead of, you know, like feeling bad that I’m not meeting my goals, just, you know, except where I’m at and get back on the horse and it’s like, I, you know, I, I wanna I want to have published a book this year.
I wanted to publish a book in 2019 I didn’t do it. But instead of it being like, well, 29 like when the, when the gate drops shut on 2019 it’s not like I have to leave that goal behind. I am just continuing in my life. I’m just continuing along the path towards eventually doing this.
Ben: [01:29:53] And you know what though? Tomorrow, like, like I said, as we record this, it’s the 31st tomorrow get a fresh start. You can take it,
Dan: [01:30:06] Then you want to wrap things up.
Ben: [01:30:08] Dan, where can people go to find us online?
Dan: [01:30:11] You can find firstname.lastname@example.org. And again, I’m going to say, join the membership. You know, it’s a new year and we have cool stuff planned for 2020. We want, we want to see you in the community. The, uh, the conversation that’s been going on while we’ve recorded this show has been been really great. People have been sharing what they are up to.
For the new year and encouraging each other and encouraging you and me to keep making our wisecracks and things like that. It’s
Ben: [01:30:39] Huh?
Dan: [01:30:40] It’s a powerful thing. So, yeah. So, so go to Sean west.com. Check out the shows, check out the courses and check out the membership. Uh, we’d love to see you here in 2020 Ben, where can people find you online?
Ben: [01:30:54] You can find email@example.com and I’m also at Ben Tolson on all of the things. Dan, where can they find you.
Dan: [01:31:02] You can find firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m at DJ Jacobson, author on Instagram.
Ben: [01:31:09] All right. Well, good show. And uh, I’ll see you next year.
Dan: [01:31:14] Good show and happy new year, sir.
Ben: [01:31:59] So I had, I had mentioned earlier in the show about screen time, and this is something like, uh, I’m going to try to relate it to the new years goals thing because this is, I struggle with it is, is actually one of my goals is to spend less time on social media. And one of the ways that I’m going to try to do that is rather than.
Just using any opportunity I can to like scroll and check, Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. Mmm. Like I’ve got muscle memory for finding those apps on my phone. Like, I don’t even have to think about it. It’s just like, whoop, drip tip, tip. And um, and it’s terrible and, and it’s quick, you know, it’s quick.
But over the course of a day, it’s like, it wastes so much time. And so I was like, well, what if instead of like limiting myself, like saying, okay, you only get, you only get to check it twice a day or you only get to check it. You know, like I thought, what if I scheduled time? Like I get 30 minutes of social media time every day and like for that 30 minutes I can do whatever I want on social media and.
Dan: [01:33:23] and that’s what you’re doing.
Ben: [01:33:25] Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, and like, I’m not, I’m not feeling bad about doing it, like, like I do now, like if I check it and then I get, you know, sucked down a rabbit hole or whatever, and then 30 minutes later I’m like, Oh man. Like that was a complete waste of time.
Dan: [01:33:46] This room. This reminds me of the cheap day concept with, uh, with dieting, right where. You know, you eat a fairly restricted diet, but then you have a day where you just do whatever you want
Ben: [01:33:57] Yeah.
Dan: [01:33:59] and it takes some of that prep. Otherwise you’re constantly feeling otherwise, it’s a constant struggle to try to.
It’s, it’s very difficult to make yourself not do something that you want to do. It’s not, it’s not really sustainable. Right. So you’re like giving yourself an outlet for it.
Ben: [01:34:12] Yeah, so, so I’m gonna I haven’t tried it before. Um, what I have tried that does not work. I’ve, I’ve tried worked with a little bit like leaving my phone somewhere else and work until the itch is just too much. And I’m like, ah, I’m just going to go check it. Especially if I’m like waiting to hear back from somebody or, and if, if I open a messaging app to see whether or not they’ve seen my message.
I may as well just click a few buttons and also check social media, you know, so like there’s stuff like that. Um, but I haven’t, I haven’t tried this, like actual scheduled times specifically for social media. So I’m going to experiment. I’m going to try it out. Mmm. But I just as tech savvy as I like to think of myself, I only recently.
Really dug into all of the new time features that Apple built into the iOS where you can, you can limit, you can limit screen time, you can limit specific apps. You can do this on family sharing, which has become extremely handy and necessary as our kids get older and start using phones more. And we’re still like Rachel and I are, we, we’ve.
From day one we’d been doing research on like, what’s a healthy amount of screen time for kids? What are some of the dangers of like having too much? Mmm. Are there, are there differences in like the types of activities that are done on screens and that kind of thing? And, and so like we, we don’t have all the answers.
We’re still figuring out a lot of stuff, but for now we have time limits specifically. And. I just yesterday figured out the family sharing screen time limits and stuff like that to where we might need to adjust the way that we do it to be more of a scheduled thing. So like rather than, you know, the kids get an hour a day of screen time, whether that’s watching YouTube videos or playing video games or whatever, like they just get that specific amount of time.
Two, maybe we, we use that same amount of time, but we schedule it. We say from this time to this time is when you have screen time and from this time to this time you have outdoor play time and from this time to this time you have to tidy your room or you know, whatever. So experimenting, we’re just experimenting off to report back and let you know how things are working.
But. I gotta say, man, like of all of the challenges with parenting, the time thing is probably the most frustrating. And, and the thing I hate about it is like, this is a relatively new problem. I don’t, I can’t go to my dad and be like, so dad, when I was a kid and I had a, you know, we had cellular devices that could browse the internet.
Like, how did
Dan: [01:37:27] Well, look, Ben. I mean, even then when, when I was a kid, we got, I was a teenager, we got our first computer at home. And I spent so much time playing video games and then when we had the internet, so much time on the internet, and my parents would always be getting after me to to not do it so
Ben: [01:37:46] but see that.
Dan: [01:37:47] And it was not, it was not very effective because for them it was completely new.
Ben: [01:37:53] Yeah. So it’s like, what are you, we don’t. I F I feel like for other aspects of parenting, like we’ve got generations and generations of experience with dealing with a certain type of, you know, like, like nutrition, making sure your kids eat the right foods and stuff like that. Like we just, we just do the thing where like, we have.
The thing that they should eat, which is like the vegetables. And then we have the yummy thing, which is like grilled cheese sandwiches and we’d let them, and this is a pro tip, you cut the grilled cheese sandwiches into quarters, so you have little grilled cheese sandwich triangles, right? You give them half of the sandwich, two triangles, and then vegetables.
And if they eat their vegetables that they finish their vegetables, they get the next two triangles.
Dan: [01:38:53] But aren’t. The remaining triangles are, aren’t they called? All right, isn’t it kind of congealed by then?
Ben: [01:38:58] That’s why you gotta you gotta shovel those vegetables in
Dan: [01:39:01] They got it. They got a, they got to really do a number on those vegetables. I see, I see. So what’s on them? It’s like the, you know, the harder you hit these vegetables, the better a time you’ll have.
I really want a grilled cheese sandwich right now, Ben.
Ben: [01:39:14] I make a mean grilled cheese sandwich and like the kid grilled cheese sandwiches are great. They’re like restaurant level. But then like for, for ours, I, I grill, it’s, it’s this sprouted wheat. Are we in the after after show.
Dan: [01:39:30] Uh, I, I don’t, I don’t know. We might be, I do want to hear the rest of this recipe though.
Ben: [01:39:36] All right? I’ll tell you the rest of the recipe, the rest of the recipe in the after after show.