Last week, Brian reminded us it’s almost resolution time again. This reminded me of one of my favorite statistics: only 8% of American adults who plan a New Year’s fresh start achieve it.
A SMART approach to goal-setting, as Brian pointed out, makes things quantifiable, timely, and more realistic. That’s a great start; however, even the best-laid plans fall apart. That 92% “failure” rate says most people bail when they don’t achieve success as they’ve defined it, tossing out any incremental improvements along with it.
The thing is, a little self-compassion can go a long way. Studies show it’s a far better motivator than self-criticism. Putting a pin in feeling inadequate and insecure bolsters productivity, resilience, and goal fulfillment.
There’s another approach to making progress that builds wiggle room into the push for progress: the 1-3-5 rule.
Sounds Odd, But It Works
It all starts with your to-do list. Identify your #1 priority, either a must-do or simply what’s most likely to be completed. Put that at the top of your list.
Next, write down three medium and five small tasks. This refers both to their scope and level of importance. The medium items should be significant but not necessarily urgent. The final five would be good to accomplish but not a big deal if you don’t.
This plan is a gentle way to build you up to success without bringing you down when you don’t hit your daily target.
Keep in mind you don’t just forget about what you didn’t finish. At day’s end, journal about your results and move what still needs to be done to your to-dos for the following day.
Progress You Can Count On
The 1-3-5 rule provides a lot of benefits:
- Doing your best and leaving the rest alleviates stress.
- Science shows crossing off to-dos creates a sense of accomplishment, triggering a feel-good rush of dopamine.
- Also, research shows follow-through increases when you write things down because it tells your brain that you mean business.
Once you integrate this rule into daily life, you can level up your achievements by using it for weekly, monthly, yearly, or even multi-year planning. Going back to journaling; if you keep a “goal dump” of your objectives and tasks, you’ll have a master to-do list to pull from and apply the 1-3-5 rule that can help you shape your future.
But that’s getting ahead of yourself. Stick to the 1-3-5 rule each day, and enjoy the forward motion. A year later, and you’ve completed 365 important things — just in time to start anew.
How to Plan Your Life with the 1-3-5 Rule (Lifehack)