For some reason, I've been thinking a lot about New Year's resolutions. Partly because of the interview I did for Weekend America, partly because the phenomenon is an interesting one to look at through many of the lenses that I use to view the world--Judaism, psychology, evolution--partly because I'm on a constant quest for self-improvement and like to get all meta about it by resolving to make better resolutions.
I could go into all of that a lot--and maybe I will, in some future posts. But the "January Joiner" piece sparked a particular thought that I want to share with you. The JJ phenomenon, of course, is that of people who join a gym with all kinds of high hopes in January, and are nowhere to be seen come March or even February. Now, I've been trying to kick up my own gym-going to a new level, so this is relevant to me. Partly, it's relevant in that during January, I have to be a lot more flexible about my workout routine and schedule because my gym is busting at the seams and there might not be an available elliptical. Selfishly, it's so nice when the JJ's start to drop off! But of course these are people who want to be working out, so I shouldn't be glad when they fail to meet their goal.
And I might have an idea to help them. Here it is: Make your New Year's resolution.
Then set an implementation date of February 1.
In other words, you don't attempt to start your New Year "all set." In January, you are "still working on it."
Two of my resolutions this year are to get up earlier in the morning, and to work out four to five times a week. If I'd decided to start the resolution on January 1, I'd have already broken it by now, and become discouraged, and maybe quit entirely. But January is the process of getting me there, it's the journey, not the destination. I've been getting up a little earlier, cutting myself slack when I fail, setting modest goals at the gym. I think in over the next four weeks I'll have built up some fairly good habits. I'm never going to be one of those terribly disciplined people who gets up every morning at 4:30 and works out every day for 90 minutes, but I can get closer to that than I am now, and I bet by February 1, there will really be some significant improvement.
January 1 is your starting gate, not your finishing line. Maybe you don't need a finishing line; people differ in what motivates them. But if you do, make it February 1.
What are your resolutions this year? What tips and tricks do you have for making self-improvement schemes stick?
UPDATE: Fillyjonk of Shapely Prose has a great post on "reverse resolutions." Check this out!
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