How to avoid the self-help blahs and blast off in 2014

new year resolutions

By Mars Dorian, {grow} Contributing Columnist

A lot of us commit to New Year resolutions. We set ambitious, larger-than-life goals like, “I’m going to build an online empire this year!” and crash land straight into the rut a month later. Our goals creep into the back of our minds and lurk like shadows, always reminding us of what should have, could have been.

No more.

Before I had my revelation, I did everything by “the books.” You know the classics. Popular productivity tomes like “Getting Things Done” and blah blah. It’s the same popular advice over and over again – set specific goals, carry a notebook 24/7 so you can jot down ideas in a flash, track your progress, set systems, yadda yadda.

It makes us feel good in the moment, that’s why I call it self-help porn. But long-term results? Not likely, because the ideas are too complex. Nobody really wants to carry a notebook every day, fill out papers with specific goals or develop systems. It’s more hassle than The Hoff.

Let’s face it, nature made us lazy. We want max results with minimum effort. That’s why I dropped all the tracking and writing in 2012 and went spartan in 2013.

I realized that the simpler your tactics, the more you’ll follow through. And boy, did it work. 2013 turned out to be my best online year money and connection wise.

I want to share my tactics with you.

They require no pen and paper, no book, no other tool than the wobbly thing between your ears. Here are my New Year resolution tactics for people who never follow through on their New Year resolutions …

1. Go to the dark side.

I’m an optimistic guy, I always see the glass half full even if there’s no glass to begin with. But when I look back at the game-changing moments of my life, they always ignited because of something negative.

I started my online career because I dreaded working for the man.
I moved to illustration because I hated just writing.
I leveled up my business because of surging rent prices in my district.

If passion is the fuel, then anger and frustration are the nitro, IF you use them in a constructive way. Instead of goal setting and feel-good passion, try anger. What are you really mad about? Your financial situation? The lack of product X that you want to see in the world? Find something that pisses you off and ignite yourself for major action in the new year.

2. Yellow your pants.

When I review my last years online, I notice a strange pattern. The more I felt comfortable, the less money I made.

Last year, I pushed myself out of the comfort zones, and I got more business. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. We humans like progress, we want to make tomorrow better than yesterday. And the only way to achieve that is to challenge yourself every day.

I remember being nervous when I approached a blogger in the first year of my online biz. I was sweating waterfalls and feared rejection. Last year, I contacted Seth Godin and got negative feedback for an art project, but it doesn’t matter. (Still love your work, Seth.)

I went from feeling nervous to contacting a little blogger to contacting the GODin himself, because I pushed myself, even though I felt like yellowing my pants. This is progress.

You can do the same.

3. Kaizen

Japanese for “continuous improvement” or “change for the best.” It means tiny improvements every day, for the rest of your life. Forget about delusional goals, you build (online) empires brick by brick.

For me, it means improving my (written) English and illustration skills every day. Just one lesson a day, like learning about abusive use of adverbs, or informing myself about a gradient color effect.

You don’t even need to track it down. At the end of the day, you simply ask yourself, what single lesson did I learn in each of my skills?

4. The one sentence that changes everything.

Bad things are going to happen. But success is all about the mindset. If you ask yourself, “how can I use this?” You can turn bad into good. Suddenly, every challenge turns into an opportunity.

Just the other day, my behated aunt and I got stuck in the kitchen. Instead of saying, damn, why I do have to be around her, I said, yes, she’s a challenge and will my test my social skills. I can only grow from this conversation, no matter how ugly it turns out.

When I have a customer ask for a refund for my digital guide, I don’t cringe anymore. I ask him about the reason, and make sure he gets the best treatment after I refund his money. I learned so much about disgruntled customers, it can only help me.

So, no matter what happens, no matter how dire the situation, always ask yourself,
“How can I use this?”

Do this, and you always find a constructive way.

5. Talk to planet’s biggest expert.

Hint: It’s you. Or, in my case, me.

Yes, I talk to myself every day, and no, I’m not delusional, just ask my unicorn.

Based on personal experience, talking to myself has gifted me self-confidence. It has allowed me to follow through on my online biz, even when times went doomy and gloomy. I call it a one-way prep talk. Whenever you have a spare minute, talk to yourself :

When you face a problem, say “challenge accepted.”
When you meet disgruntled customers, say “I’m going to make this valuable to you.”
When stuck in a rut, say “I’m going to find a way, I always do.”

Do it in your room, in your office, in the toilet, heck, it doesn’t matter where. Talk to yourself, and do it with flair.

New Year’s resolutions blow because we aim for delusional goals and go for complex goal settings system that no one follows through. All of the above tips require only you.

What spartan tactics can you use to level up your life in the new year?

mars dorianMars Dorian describes himself as a creative marketeer with a moon-melting passion for human potential and technology. You can follow his adventures at

Original illustrations by the author.

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