I don’t make new year's resolutions. I do make resolutions, however. With regularity, twice a year. Once in May and once in December. This isn’t intentional, but it’s become regular and I like to think that I keep these resolutions too. Last year around the end of December I resolved that I’d read 12 books in the next 12 months. I read my 12th in November. Last May I resolved that I’d train more consistently and keep a base fitness level of being able to run a 20k on any given Sunday (Sundays because by then I’ve recovered from a work week and whatever else may have happened to me in the run up to the weekend). There’s a bias at play here. I can’t remember any of the things I don’t do that I said I would do because I don’t do them anymore. They’re not top of mind. I do have a record that I said in August I would post a new blog once a week. That was a resolution too, but at the time of writing this blog on December 16th 2018 I’ve published four new posts--and drafted one additional one which may come out before this--in the intervening 17 weeks since August 19th. ...and two of those were in the same week. (On the date of publishing six other posts have been made including three in the Adventures of Alcmene series, but I think it’s unlikely I’ll catch up.)
To be fair, I’ve also changed the format of the blogs so they’re a little more work intense, and on the old format I don’t think I’d have had 17 interesting topics on which to write. I think I know myself better than that. 10 of 17 would have likely been about running.
The example serves, anyway, that rather than making new year’s resolutions, I make resolutions when I think of them. They come around December and May because everyone thinks about resolutions during the holiday and because having a birthday in June, so I often find myself thinking back on the year in late May. Most of those resolutions succeeded too, and in my opinion the reason most new year’s resolutions fail is because the very act of making new year’s resolutions is a little lazy. When you start thinking about how your year’s gone in early December (and start buying gifts whose generosity is directly proportional to how bad you feel) you usually come up with a few ways to improve the next year. Next year is a great time frame to start improving. January is a still a way off so you don’t need to change now. You expect to be busy over the holiday so it doesn’t make sense to change. And you can benefit from your new year’s resolutions through the whole holiday at work parties and holiday dinners getting to tell your friends and colleagues about all the great stuff you’ll be doing in the new year.
January rolls around, you spent a lot of time sitting around in the holiday, and now you’ve gotten even less time than before. Work is busy because you’ve taken time off and it’s the beginning of the financial year, at some point you need to go return all of those christmas presents you didn’t want, and your priorities have changed a little since when you were out shopping and thought how nice it would be got to the gym more often. So you delay, you don’t think about it, and your one month holiday trial lapses without you lifting a single weight. You weren’t in the habit to actually go work out by the time it really mattered that you were.
Habit is key in making a resolution stick. Rather than thinking about it, if you’d just joined the gym when you thought you should and if you’d spent some of your abundance of holiday time (by way of avoiding the family) doing two workouts a week, by the time the new year rolled around you’d be craving your gym time. It’d be easier to keep the habit.
That’s why I make resolutions in December. They come with immediate action and I’ve got time over the holiday to do it. With any luck the hecticness of a new year won’t throw me off, but at the very least I know that I gave it a proper attempt.
Little things impact weak habits in big ways. Something as trivial as adding one to the current year really, if you think about it, shouldn’t have an impact on your habits at all.
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