New Year's Resolution Systems vs. Goals

My New Year's Resolution is to work on RuBook Creative from 5:30-7am every morning (7 days a week!).  No, it's not a "Goal", but a "System".

Last year I read "Atomic Habits" by James Clear, where he discusses the value in not setting goals, but instead establishing systems that will allow you to achieve various goals.  Check out the Cliff's Notes version here, or you can buy the book on Audible or paperback.  I actually bought the Audible version first then later bought the paperback so I could flag and re-read certain sections.

Part of my system is waking up at 5am every day. I start my day from 5-5:30 with hydrating and doing some simple exercises and stretches (alternating days of pushups, pull-ups, and squats.

My kids wake up at 7am, so from 5:30-7am that's my time to work on various aspects of RuBook Creative.  I made a shortlist of things I'd like to work on during this block of time:

  • New card designs
  • Working on new book ideas (yep, General Ledger is due for a sequel!)
  • Generating content for social media posts
  • Filling orders

Rather than picking an arbitrary number of new card designs I'd like to create or social media posts per week or sales targets, I'm creating a dedicating block of time to perform action items that will hopefully result in more products, more visibility, and more sales.

For me, I know my days are fully occupied with my full-time job (stopping Creative Accountants), and in the evenings I'm more likely to fall asleep on the couch than put in productive time working on my side hustle.  So dedicating the early morning hours to RuBook Creative is the best system for me to ensure I give myself regular time to spend on my business.

What's Your New Year's Resolution System?

You can apply this "systems vs. goals" approach to any resolution whether you're looking to make a resolution around fitness, dieting, work, hobbies, or a side hustle.

Not sure where to start? Give yourself 30 minutes per day of leisure time at some point in the day (my leisure time is from 9pm-10:30pm since I'm otherwise useless by that time of day) so you can read Atomic Habits.  Block it off on your calendar, set up a reminder or task on your phone, and tell your spouse or family about it so that they know this is your dedicated time.

If Your Resolution is to Start a Side Hustle

First off, congratulations! It's pretty exciting to start your own business, no matter how big or small it is.  I get immense satisfaction out of selling a single $5 greeting card or for an individual book sale because it tells me that it was worth it for me to start this business.

If you're interested in starting a side hustle, check out the Side Hustle School podcast.  It's one of the podcasts that I listen to regularly.  They talk about different successful or failed side hustles, and each episode is only 5 to 10 minutes long, so it's quite convenient to fit into your day.  You can listen to it in the shower, while you make breakfast in the morning, during your morning commute, or even while you're walking from the parking garage to your office.

If Your Resolution is to Pass the CPA Exam

Passing the CPA Exam is a perfect resolution to set a system around.  When I was studying for the CPA Exam, I would study every Monday through Thursday after work til about 9 or 10pm.  Yes, I missed some weekday happy hours, but I still gave myself Friday night and the weekend off to catch up with friends and family.

At 5pm, I would get two Diet Mountain Dews from the company vending machine, then go up to campus (about 15 minutes away) and study for 4-5 hours.  Fortunately for me, I didn't have a "busy season" as a forensic accountant, so I was able to make this system work year-round.

If you're an audit or tax professional, create a system that will work for you and your schedule.  Personally I don't think I could study during busy season, but I know some folks who were able to make time for it despite the long work hours.  At the end of the day, you need to create a system for yourself to set yourself up for success so that you can have the best possible chance to pass the CPA exam.  For me, that meant 20-25 hours per week of dedicated study time for about 2 months for each exam section.

Need an extra boost to motivate yourself during the exam?  Pre-schedule some CPA Exam Encouragement Cards to be mailed to yourself throughout the year.  It may sound silly, but the CPA exam is grueling, and anything to lift your spirits can help you get through it.

Final Comment

Don't just set goals for 2022, but create systems that will give you the best opportunity to achieve those goals.  You can do it!