Bill Gates is endlessly quotable, but only one Bill Gates quote is perfect for the New Year or, indeed, for any time you want to have a productive beginning:

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction.

It is classic because there are so many layers to unpeel here. Two big ideas stand out and are worth exploring deeper.

Build systems instead of motions

When we think about next year, we think about motions: Taking this action to have this result. It's great for short-term goals, but not sustainable for long-term change. What if the outcome doesn't occur on our envisioned timeline? How are we preparing for changing in the world, or even in our desired goal?

When we think about the next decade, though, we have to think about systems: Creating this practice will encourage this result. We go beyond the now. We invest in ideas that may not have results right away, but could have a big impact later.

We think of the future.

Leverage compound interest

When time management expert Laura Vanderkam interviewed me for her book Off The Clock, she came up with an amazing term on the spot: Time dividend. Here's an excerpt:

Certain things we do in the present can open up space in the future. These investments of time pay off again and again, much like a stock can pay an annual dividend.

Time spent cultivating a relationship with a client or researching a particular skill set or making your body stronger are all the same. All these practices start small with little reward for hard work, but, in repetition, the powers begin to compound and the rewards begin to outweigh the work itself.

Your hard work isn't going into a vacuum. It is accumulating, however silently, until the difficult work and the minimal rewards inverse themselves.

Don't worry about next year's resolution. Where do you want to be ten years from now? Work backwards from there.