New year resolutions are not necessarily useless, if only we keep to them and they help us improve our lives significantly.

According to research by the University of Scranton, only 8% of people achieve their New Year goals.

Even though it’s not clear what percentage of Africans create or achieve their New Year goals, one thing we know for sure is that the fad of ‘new year resolution’ comes alive, every January.

If you’re one of the many people constantly searching for more ways to improve your productivity and optimise your time, the following tips will help you in 2019.

1. Work with finish lines

This is probably one of the most important points I’ll be mentioning in this article. The concept of ‘finish lines’ is a huge revelation that has changed my life in the last few months.

In sports, a finish line marks the end of a race. Finish lines can be linked to so many aspects of our lives. For example, the end of a day marks the finish line for the day. The end of a week, month, year, or even a project can be regarded as a ‘finish line’. Finish lines are calibrated timelines given to us by nature.

Depending on your goal and what you’re looking to achieve, you can choose a suitable finish line (The period within which your task is to be completed).

Finish lines give a sense of urgency for your project and help you to prioritise your tasks so you can focus on achieving what’s most important.

2. Count your losses and wins

The advantage of working with finish lines is that at the end of every cycle, you can review your performance so far before continuing or moving on to something else.

The losses

The questions to ask when you count your losses or failures based on a set finish line are:

  • Why did I fall short? - Think of possible reasons why you may not have reached your goals; be honest with yourself.
  • At what point along the line did things go wrong? - This could be at the beginning of the project (which means that you may have to re-work your entire strategy), or during the execution.
  • What could I have done better? - Think about all the things that need to change in your approach.

The wins

In the same manner, when you count your wins, ask yourself questions like:

  • Why did I succeed? - Deep-dive into your processes to understand why things came out successfully.
  • What are my key takeaways from this? - It’s very important to learn from your success. You need to think about ways to can apply the learning from your success to other projects.
  • Is it possible to improve on my success? How can I improve? Where can I improve? You’d be amazed at the amount of creativity and genius in you when you begin this process.

Whether you’re evaluating your losses or wins, do it with a pen and paper. There’s this insight that comes to you when your hand moves that pen on a paper. Well, at least that is how I feel.

3. Live life, 30 days at a time

The 30-day finish line is one of the most practical timelines to use for achieving daunting tasks. It is especially useful for people who are looking to build new skills, start a new habit, or even change their lifestyle completely. I have seen this work practically.

Seye Kuyinu on his website, has shown that it is possible to pick up a new skill, embark on a new project, fulfil something in your bucket list, or even delve into a new career line by focusing on one thing at a time for 30 days. Kuyinu has used this approach to gain the skills of a magician, a photographer, developer, taught himself to speak German, and become an author of 3 books.

Is there something you will really like to achieve as part of your New Year's resolutions? Set a 30-day finish line and dedicate your time and effort to it. You would be surprised at the extent to which things can turn around for you within that space of time.

4. Forgive yourself and others

Most of the time, we tend to hold on too hard to failures or losses. This keeps us from making progress. The feeling of self-pity or worthlessness is like paralysis. It zaps away all your strength, passion, and motivation, and keeps you pinned to the same spot longer than you can ever imagine.

The greatest people in the world are those who are able to mourn their failure for a day or two, pick up their tools and say, “tomorrow, I am going to start all over again”.

Realistically, failure is not so easy to cope with, as most people end up losing a lot of money, time, and in some cases, their credibility.

Take learning from great people like Thomas Edison and Elon Musk. Even though they encountered what most people would call fatal failure, they took learning from their mistakes, evaluated the failures and started all over again.

Some failures are the necessary sacrifices you must make in order to be successful.

5. Focus on what’s important

Staying focused on your goals is the first and most important step in ensuring that they are reached. By staying focused, you want to make sure you’re working within a set timeframe, within a set budget, and within allocated resources.

Distractions and procrastination are your worst enemies if you’re working within a set due date. If you can’t overcome these, it would be difficult for you to achieve anything meaningful.

Here are a few tips to help you achieve your goals within your set due date.

  1. Engage in deep work - Deep work is the practice for working with a deep concentration in environments with zero distractions. The practice requires that you isolate yourself from environments, people, and places who would likely distract you.
  2. Avoid time wasters - Beware of people and events that add no value to your goals and objectives. This is not to say that you should kill your social life completely, but if that is what it would take to make you achieve your goals as quickly as you want it, then you may have to eat that frog. Review all your meetings, discussions, engagements, and responsibilities - If they don’t pass your test for ‘value’ in relation to your set goals. You may have to discard them.
  3. Delegate - Delegating sometimes can be a very intelligent thing to do. Think of some of the tasks, domestic chores, etc that take up huge chunks of your creative and productive time with respect to your goals. Are there tasks you can delegate or outsource? Outsourcing and delegating less-priority tasks gives you more time to focus on your priority tasks.

In conclusion:

Getting things done requires a lot of mental willpower.

If you really want to succeed in achieving your goals, you have to sacrifice your time and efforts for it. Achieving success is not easy, if it was, there would actually be no need for you to read this article.

Make up your mind, and as Nike will say, Just do it.