How to accidentally ruin an entire year of your life

2020 is finally over (thank the Lord) which means it’s New Year’s Resolution time – the most super funnest time of the year!

I never understood why people wait until January to make important life changes. But the bigger problem with resolutions is that most people believe the decision, alone, is all it takes to be successful.

They imagine how much better their life will be when they acquire X skill/habit, and rely on the energy of excitement to fuel their efforts.

But when that burst of initial motivation quickly runs out (like it always does), they end up back at square one, feeling more defeated than ever.

New year’s resolutions are doomed to fail. Don’t waste your time.

Instead, you need a plan of action you can rely on when your motivation is long gone.

Here’s an example…

If you’ve been on my list since 2019, you’ve probably noticed that the frequency of my emails jumped up dramatically at the start of the year.

After covid hit, I decided to send out 5 emails a week instead of mailing whenever I felt like it.

Since I’m not a great writer, I knew this would be challenging to pull off. Not only do I find the creative process tedious, but I’m as slow as a tortoise. It can take me a few HOURS to write one decent email.

HOURS. To write ONE email.

That’s a massive time investment. So I needed to come up with a plan to make this work out.

The good thing is, plans don’t need to be complicated.

I realized that consistency would be the most important piece of the puzzle. I was confident that my writing would improve over time if I put the work in, so I decided to send out SOMETHING every mon-fri, even if it thought it was hot garbage.

I set aside time in my day to allot for my “sluggish” moods, where it takes me forever to turn my unintelligible slop into something that makes sense.

(Marketing genius Sean D’Souza calls this “chaos planning,” where you allocate some extra time blocks for dealing with random emergencies. If you don’t do this, you’ll frequently feel like you’re running behind schedule, which adds unneeded stress to the mix.)

A few months into this experiment, I realized it takes me longer to finish if I start writing first thing in the morning. To save time, I started writing my rough drafts at night and editing them when I wake up.

Lastly, I imposed the “90%” rule. Since I have a bad habit of editing and re-editing dozens of times, I force myself to step away from the laptop when an email is “90% good enough” by my standards.

That’s my whole process, in a nutshell. Yes, the initial decision to get started was important. But it was much less important than the decision to do SOMETHING every single day.

Looking back on the past year, I can say the experiment was definitely a success. Not only did I stick to the schedule, but lots of metrics have improved: I’ve been getting more list engagement, more sales, and solid feedback from our members that my messages have been helpful and inspiring.

And while this new habit has been solidly drilled in, it still hasn’t become ENJOYABLE. I might enjoy the process once in a while, but most of the time it still feels like a chore.

But I do it anyway because I committed myself to it.

Most people believe that successful people wake up every day excited to kick ass and take names. But it just ain’t so.

There’s a Muhammad Ali quote that goes something like this:

“I hated every minute of training, but I knew if I suffered now I would live the rest of my life as a champion.”

When a champion speaks, we should all be listening.

So now it’s your turn. Go decide what you want and create a plan of action. Know that your plan may change multiple times and you’ll end up figuring out all the minutia along the way.

Oh yeah, expect it to suck. Hate it all you want, but force yourself to keep at it, every single day.

Lastly, you’ll need a way to deal with the procrastination.

The most effective way I’ve found is the “baby step” method.

On the days I’d rather light my laptop on fire than work on a headline, I get myself moving by “baby stepping” the process.

Take whatever the task is and break it down into tiny steps. Ask yourself:

“What’s the tiniest step I can do?”

For me, it’s usually turning the laptop on and dumping out my thoughts on a word doc (total time expenditure: 30 seconds).

Then ask, “Can I do this right now?” If “yes,” start immediately. If not, pick a time to start (the sooner the better) and set an alarm in your phone to remind you.

Once you finish the first step, start the next small step (maybe dumping out some more thoughts, or jotting down the 3 main points of the article). Eventually, you’ll hit your flow and find yourself continuing the process without effort.

(Btw, this is a fantastic way to overcome writer’s block. Sometimes, your creativity has to be ACTIVATED. And writing gibberish for a few minutes is more effective than staring at a blank page until you feel inspired to write.)

Now, if thinking about one of your small steps brings up discomfort, then it’s not small enough. Change “run on the treadmill for 5min” to “go stand on the treadmill and watch some tv.”

Decision, plan, get yourself moving, make simple tweaks, No Sleep Till Brooklyn. Add that to your recipe book.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how you can become a bad-ass hypnotist in the next few months. Stay tuned…


Instagram: @jaycataldo
Twitter: @jaycataldo
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