Marc Sparks is an entrepreneur who has been involved in more than sixty start-ups since the Eighties. Marc is also the founder, owner, and CEO of Timber Creek Capital, a private equity firm.
We’re now almost a month into 2014, and I’m willing to bet that for most people, your New Year’s resolutions are on life support, if you haven’t already buried them altogether. Some of the most common resolutions involve making some fundamental change in life—such as losing weight, quitting smoking, saving more money, or achieving better work-life balance. It’s easy to say you want to do one or more of these—but simply wanting change won’t make it happen.
Let’s face it; change can be damn tough. It takes commitment. It takes time. In fact, a study conducted by the UK Health Behavior Research Centre found that it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. As I write this, we are 27 days into the New Year—not even halfway to that target of 66 days. Now is NOT the time to give up! Rather, it’s time to take charge once and for all to gain the power you want and so richly deserve. And here’s your next step—the real first step: WRITE DOWN THOSE RESOLUTIONS—and not on a laptop!
Create a ‘Get It Done List’!
Every Sunday, between noon and 5 p.m., I reach for my white legal pad and begin to make two lists: a list of things I want to accomplish during the coming week, and another list of goals I refer to as my “Get It Done” list. This collection of thoughts is made up of things I want to stay focused on in the long term, things I do not want to forget. These can include everything from selling a company to planning unique travels to funding a philanthropic venture—hmm, sounds like “Resolutions,” yes?
I rewrite this list every Sunday as a way of reminding myself of what still needs to get done. I am a project-oriented person who needs to see that there is an end to a process. This handwritten list provides clarity on what it will take to get there. Sure, in this technological world it would be easy to use my laptop, iPad and iPhone, but I choose to handwrite my to-do list old-school style because real magic takes place between your brain and the pen in your fingertips. Handwriting this list creates an unforgettable mental connection. This type of connection is intentional; it establishes a conscious awareness of the things you want to accomplish.
Hold Yourself Accountable
The other benefit of creating a handwritten to-do list is that it makes you accountable, even if it’s only to yourself. It’s important to keep track of where you are and how far you’ve come. Handwritten lists are an excellent way to monitor your progress on a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis.
Some of you are probably still thinking that if you electronically create these lists, you wouldn’t have to waste time rewriting them every week. The point isn’t to make it easy—the exercise is to make sure habitually update it so you are reminded of everything you want to accomplish. It’s about repetition and habit. Again, powerful things happen in the connection between one’s brain and fingertips. The more you do something, the more natural it becomes.
If we can do something for 66 consecutive days, we can do it for a year, five years, or thirty years. And remember, a resolution doesn’t need to be tied the start of a new year. Try creating a handwritten to-do list for 66 days and see what kind of impact it has on your productivity. A goal without a deadline is only a dream! To-do lists give you mini-deadlines and therefore your dreams—YOUR RESOLUTIONS—will come true…GUARANTEED!