Here’s how to achieve your 2021 goals in the first 90 days: Put in micro levels of effort

New Year’s Resolutions piss me off. They rarely happen.

New Year’s Resolutions = Dreaming

You can achieve a lot more in a year than you think, and you don’t need to hustle yourself into an early grave to do so.

Grandiose goals put me to sleep. Who really knows where you’re going to end up with a goal? It’s fun to have a vision but most people go overboard. They fall so in love with the vision and “the idea of…” that they never take any action.

Consistent action works.

I love micro levels of effort. Anyone can achieve micro effort. You don’t need to quit your job for micro effort.

You don’t need to leave your kids by the side of the road to fend for themselves with micro action. You don’t need to sell your house and take out a $1 million business loan with micro action.

Anything is achievable through the lens of micro action.

I suck at taking action by the way. Micro action was what got me over the line with being slightly productive. The idea of starting a business scared the shit out of me. I found it easier to chunk down goals.

Rather than start a business, I changed the goal to “buy a website domain.” Once I take action then I know the next step will become obvious.

Once I know what action I’m going to take I put micro levels of effort in.

With writing, micro effort looked like 30 minutes a day to whip up a quick social media post utilizing nothing but words — because illustrations, photos, videos, and audio would cause me to procrastinate. Words were easy. I write emails each day so I can write words on the internet.

I tried the opposite too. I tried to go to the gym and lift weights every day for an hour. It was too hard. To go from zero time spent in the gym to an hour a day was a huge leap. It was never going to happen. Had I have said 20 minutes a week, who knows what could have happened.

When I think about 2021 and my goals, I think a little differently.

I’ve set smaller goals and didn’t tie them to a new year. I make the goals small enough so that, if I want, I can achieve them in the first quarter of 2021. Practically speaking this isn’t important.

What’s important is how you frame goals in your mind.

If your mind thinks your goal is too hard or it’s confused about what to do, how to do it, and what the timeframe is, then the result will be predictable. You’ll lose. Your mind will win.

Your brain was built to survive and eat chocolate sundaes to store fat for the caveman winters that you’re no longer susceptible to.

2021 is the year to throw away the new year’s resolutions for good and get serious about what you want to achieve in life. 2020 knocked the shit out of us. The 2021 recovery will be challenging and exhausting. You don’t have capacity to set stupidly big goals you won’t be able to achieve.

You do have capacity for micro effort and micro actions.

You could turn activities you’d like to do into micro habits. For example, I want to start meditating again. I know there’s no way my monkey mind will be able to sit for 20 minutes a day with the schedule I’m working to. My plan is to meditate for 60 seconds at a time.

I know I can do 60 seconds because it’s such a small number. Meditation would be over before I’d even started and got comfortable. Buddhist monks will be upset with my practice. They will tell me that 60 seconds won’t do anything for my mental state. And they’re right.

But 60 seconds of meditation isn’t about mental clarity, cold showers, and healthy food orgies. 60 seconds of meditation is about a micro habit, requiring micro levels of time, micro levels of effort, and a micro amount of action.

Once you have the monkey off your back using micro, you can get down to business and build from the solid foundation you’ve set. The problem is we get romantic about our goals. We masturbate over them and overthink them. We live in a dreamland rather than reality.

Work is harder than ever. Every economy is figuring out how much money they’re going to have to create out of nowhere. The International Monetary Fund is trying to figure out if they can create a reset of the financial system and start again, through yet another Bretton Woods Moment.

How are you going to do macro when the energy you’ll have left is micro?

You can’t. We already know that. 2020 taught us a lot.

The strategy that wins for goals in 2021 is the one that actually works and doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve got tomato sauce all over your face by the end of the year and achieved nothing in a long list of goals you want to knock off before you get into a timber box in the ground and dream away the rest of the Earth’s life and then reincarnate as an octopus right before the end of the world.

The goal isn’t to beat people around you. The goal is to win 2021 your way. You won’t do well in a difficult year when you go macro. You can win 2021 and achieve your goals in the first 90 days when you go micro. Make 2021 the year of micro.

Once you get that winning feeling you’ll be surprised what you can do.

The key with productivity is to rig the game in your favor. Then you can use the momentum to blast your way through anything.

This article first appeared on Medium.