The evil, 3-letter word of New Years Resolutions

Everybody’s blathering about New Years resolutions. Usually the next thing out of their mouth is “And most people abandon them by mid-February.” Somebody else chimes in and says, “Aw, I just don’t make ‘em.”

New Years Resolutions work pretty well for me. Why?

Because when I make resolutions, I don’t try. I change the SYSTEM.

If you want to exercise more this year, move your office to the attic. Since the restroom is on the main floor, now six times a day you’re climbing up and down the stairs.

If you want to take more walks, let your neighbor borrow your car a few days a week so you HAVE to walk to the convenience store instead of drive. Or join a volleyball team where everyone expects you to show up every week.

That’s easily worth a few pounds, isn’t it?

Those are system changes to your environment. They are far more effective than resolutions to add a new, completely optional habit. (Like roll out of bed and go to the gym at 6am in freezing weather. Who do you think you’re kidding?)

Notice the difference between “try harder” and System Change:

Will Power: “I’m going to try to waste less time answering emails this year.”

System Change: “I’m turning over 3/4ths of my inbox to a Virtual Assistant.”

Will Power: “I’m going to try harder not to get angry with my kids.”

System Change: “I know I’ve been angry with my dad and I’ve been taking it out on my kids for years. I’m going to clean out the closet and forgive my dad, so the anger impulse just goes away.”

Will Power: “I’m going to try harder to get less distracted with social media this year.”

System Change: “I’m going to set my web browser so I ALWAYS have to manually log into Facebook and enter my password every single time.”

Will Power: “I’m going to try to implement more of my business education this year.”

System Change: “I’m going to make myself accountable to my friend or instructor to finish all the homework assignments in this book or course.”

See that word T-R-Y? It’s a dirty three-letter word. It always invites its 5-letter friend, G-U-I-L-T. 

Yes, you can try harder but we all have a finite amount of energy and will power to expend every day. Systems only require the willpower it takes to put them in place.

Resolutions based on try fail 80% of the time.

Resolutions based on changing the system succeed 80% of the time.

The income you make in 2013 and 2015 and 2020 will naturally flow from the friendships you cultivate and the mentors you surround yourself with. Your thoughts and aspirations will be shaped by the environment which you have systemically built confers to you.

The gains you make in 2013 will be because of the systems and structure you build around yourself.

You want 2013 to be the best year ever? Make January about changing the systems you live in every day, you won’t have to try. You will habitually do and it will be easy.

Perry Marshall

About the Author

Entrepreneur Magazine says: "Perry Marshall is the #1 author and world's most-quoted consultant on Google Advertising. He has helped over 100,000 advertisers save literally billions of dollars in Adwords stupidity tax."

He is referenced across the Internet and by The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and Forbes Magazine.

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Posted by Perry on January 2nd, 2013. Filed in Marketing Blog. Tagged as . Follow responses thru Comments RSS. Follow responses thru Comments RSS.

Comments on The evil, 3-letter word of New Years Resolutions »

  • Thom Burlington says:

    Hi Perry,
    Your suggestions are very useful and timely. Today a small group of us did our own structured brainstorm plan long and short term plan and will meet every 2 weeks to support and hold each other accountable. I will share this essential “change the System’ concept with them, and implement it myself.
    Thank you,

  • John NY says:

    Thanks Perry. Your post talks to research I was doing on habits. One day I will write like you do, God willing.

  • JD says:

    Hey, maybe you could could expand your product line to include a Systems Thinking training series. Could help a lot of people.

    Many comments have been writing about creating habits. Excellent point that synergizes with your point, Perry: make it your master habit to obsessively think “systems.”

    However, beyond that kind of mental habit, it’s foolish to “automate” a manual process by making it a habit. Unless, or course, you have too much spare time or enjoy whipping yourself.

    Which is the more foolproof: making it an ironclad habit to back up your computer daily (and kicking yourself when you don’t), or installing an automated backup solution? Which is the best use of your time? Which will get your stuff — possibly your entire livelihood — safely backed up when you have a crazy day and then have to rush off to your kid’s school play?

    I say the main way to add value to a business is to create systems that automate or systematize routine things for real. The kind of systematization that solves something once and for all, maybe even saves time or drudgery. Or money. Same goes for personal life.

  • kim says:

    This is classic 80 20; no its better – 1 99. 1% effort and 99% results. Great learning example of applying 80 20.

  • Another idea is to stand while you work on your computer.

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