The Problem with New Year Resolutions
The problem is clearly that you have to do something, instead of sitting around doing nothing.
Or rather, the real problem is that they set high expectations that are quite likely above what you can achieve; they become relevant purely because of an arbitrary date; and they often seem to have no foundation in reality.
Many resolutions have the same potential to fail, even though the result you are trying to achieve are very different.
Some Common Resolutions
After the over-indulgence of Christmas and the holiday season, January 1st rolls around and you decide enough is enough. You have to lose weight. You clearly ate too much, and are now immensely fat (because it was definitely those two weeks that caused it, and not your whole lifestyle), so the only thing to do is starve yourself or just eat celery.
Good luck. You’ll need it.
The first problem is that unless you are bestowed with amazing willpower, you can’t change your whole way of eating at the snap of your fingers. And if you do, you won’t stick to it. For weeks you’ve been shoveling down cakes and biscuits and candy and chocolate and wine and beer, and from this very instant you will only eat lettuce leaves and water.
Yeah, right. You’ll do it for six hours (if you’re lucky) and then decide you are starving, eat a bucketload of fried chicken, and consider starting the day after, at which stage you’ll rinse and repeat until you get sick of the whole idea and carry on eating as if it were Christmas all year round.
I don’t know how you manage the Christmas food and snacks in your home, but in early January at my house, there’s still chocolate bars, cakes, Twiglets, and much more still left over. Am I going to eat a stick of celery or finish off the Mars bar? You know it will be the Mars bar.
So what can be done? Finish all the “bad” food and start the lettuce diet next Monday?
No, because you won’t. You might buy the lettuce, but you’ll end up going to McDonald’s.
So you try and out-run your diet and…
Go to the Gym regularly
You have a life to live, and possibly a job to do. It takes a lot of time and energy just to do everything you have to, so it’s extremely difficult to put the time in to go to the gym. And you’re tired. And it’s cold, because it’s winter. Plus, there’s all those other people in the gym, and they don’t need to someone out of shape like you are.
So it’s probably best that you don’t go, because there’s no time, and you’re cold, and you don’t need to exercise that much, really. Ever.
Write a book
Writing a book is hard. Most authors don’t have another job, or a family, or the need to eat, so they have plenty of time to write. They probably don’t even go to the gym either. And words! Oh my! Words are like complicaturd thangs thet sometymes don’t merk sense, and sentence together put not happen write. OK?
Spend more time with someone
In similar fashion to the other resolutions, the whole process of spending time with someone requires time and commitment. And you clearly don’t have hours to spare…
And there’s more
Learning an instrument, going for a hike, learning a language, everything needs time and commitment. How can you improve your life if time is finite and your commitment is lacking?
Let’s all give up now!
No. You’re just approaching this with the wrong mindset.
Remember that phrase that you’re supposed to chant in front of a mirror? No, not “Bloody Mary” or “Biggy Smalls”, but “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better”. You might not say it, and you might not even believe it, but every day is an opportunity to get better. And if you improve just 1% every day, in just 70 days you’ll be twice as good as you were before. Why? Because that 1% compounds day after day.
Little changes compounded become big changes – changes you couldn’t make in one go. Instead of committing to going to the gym every day and putting in an hour of hard exercise, why not start smaller? After all, three days in, you’re going to be sick of going to the gym, and will give up. But if you stop what you’re doing now and do 10 push-ups, you’ve done some exercise and it hasn’t really interrupted your day.
You’ll most likely find that you have time to do 10 push-ups several times a day. You can also write two sentences for your novel. And you can spend 10 minutes with someone. Instead of eating six Mars bars today, just eat five.
By next week, you’ll have done 70 or more push-ups (maybe over 200 if you can fit 3 sessions in a day), you’ll have spent over an hour with someone, written 14 sentences, and you’ll have had 35 Mars bars instead of 42.
So now you’ll have no problem doing 15 push-ups per session, spending 20 minutes with someone, writing 5 sentences, and only having 4 Mars bars.
In a month, you’ll have done thousands of push-ups, spent hours with someone, written several chapters, and have nearly kicked your Mars bar habit. But right now, you don’t have any free time to achieve any of that, do you?
Come on. 10 push-ups. Right now.