The thing about the beginning of the year is that it isn’t magic.
When the clock strikes 00h01 on the first of January you don’t suddenly become a more capable, supercharged, chocolate immune you. And though an inescapable and utterly predictable slew of social media updates persistently proclaim the contrary, the more realistic state of things is “new year, same me”.
That lack of chocolate immunity is the bad news.
The good news is that, since nobody knows you better than yourself, you are in the perfect position to cast your attention over last year’s pitfalls, weaknesses and wastes of time and create a plan that doesn’t dive into the mush of stock New Year’s resolutions and attempt to tread treacherous water but instead is entirely catered to you based on an escalating scale of achievability.
If you make New Year’s Resolutions, like just about everyone on the planet, you aren’t exactly who or where you want to be. So you conjure up these grand and noble goals for the future but neglect to realize that the person making those resolutions isn’t yet the person who can achieve them.
This person arrives in installments.
They make a plan, they stick to it and every day that they put in the requisite effort they become more and more capable of getting to where they want to be.
The accredited and impressive people who say things, say it takes 21 days to make a new activity a habit and about 6 months to make a lifestyle change. This means, that if you don’t want to be making the same resolutions come 2019, you’re going to have to make damn sure that they become your life.
Though the trend is to jump into the New Year in beast mode and be absolutely rabid about dieting, exercising and saving, the reality is that this is the quickest route to burn-out. Again, you aren’t yet the person who can keep this all up.
So rather than exhausting yourself, trying to function at the level of your envisioned future self , inevitably failing, giving up and finding yourself back here in 2019, give yourself time, build your new habits and slowly but surely become more capable of becoming the person you’ve outlined on your vision board.
Be Realistic – Once, twice, third times the charm: you don’t start the year magically fit, disciplined and hardworking enough to reach your goals. So instead of committing to running five kilometres a day or writing ten pages of a novel every morning. Start with one. If you can comfortably do one, do two, when you can comfortably do that, try three. Keep building.
Baby Steps – Instead of setting one all encompassing goal for the new year, set short term goals that break your big goal into achievable segments. If your goal is to lose 20kg this year, commit to losing 5kg each quarter. Reaching these short term goals will keep you motivated and help you to avoid epic failure.
Be Specific – Vague is death to progress. Should you want any hope of achieving your New Year’s Resolutions, you will have to be particular. If your NYR is to travel, decide where you want to go, what you want to see when you get there, find out how much it will cost and what the visa requirements are. Going into this much detail, makes your dreams more tangible and my even reveal them to be less farfetched than they seem.
Make a Plan – “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Platitudinous but true. A plan is integral to keeping your NYRs. Without a detailed plan that states how much, by when or how often, there is no road map to help you navigate towards your goals. Being consistent and knowing what you need to be doing and when orders your life, makes you accountable and eventually adds up.
Hold Yourself Accountable – One of the best ways to keep your NYRs is to tell people about them. If you keep them to yourself, you can quietly let them go but if you tell them to the loudmouthed, loving people you call friends and family, you’ll be more inclined to spare yourself the embarrassment of giving up.
Recommit – NYRs are hard and you are almost certainly going to fall off the wagon. The thing do when that happens is not give up entirely or blow what progress you’ve already made. Instead accept a day or two’s failure and recommit. Take it one day at time and remember the inherent potential of each new day. January isn’t magic. Neither is a Monday. You can choose to change and stick to your plan in every hour you have going for yourself.
Reap the Rewards – Though they look a lot like it, NYRS aren’t are all doom and gloom. In fact, with every sacrifice comes an unexpected boon to soothe the burn of exercise, diet and hardwork. If you’ve been working hard to lose weight, remember to buy yourself a show stopping outfit a few months in to celebrate your progress and keep you motivated. If you’re working hard or you’ve saved a bunch of cash, dip into it, not too deep, and treat yourself to a modest spa day or restaurant meal that speaks to the kind of lifestyle you are working so hard to achieve.
It’s all about commitment, tracking your progress and upgrading every time you win. If we’re buying into the big, temporal idea that January gives us a chance to pursue our better selves then we know we can be doing better.
New year, same me.
So do you, but better.
Slow and steady.