January 1st. The first day of a new year. That day when we feel the potential of who we think we can be as we write our resolutions. It’s that First Day of our Big Promise to Quit Something or Start Something.
It’s usually one or the other. Stop drinking. Smoking. Swearing. Eating ice cream. Start going to the gym. Drinking more water. Reading more.
We choose things that promise we’ll become better, healthier people if we do them. Because, lord knows, if we accept ourselves as we are, how will we ever improve? We need motivation and surely these New Year’s Resolutions will motivate, yes?
Yet we fail miserably at New Year’s Resolutions.
Still we keep doing them. January 1 rolls around and we promise to stop or start various new behaviors and naively act like, this year, we’ll successfully stick to it for 365 days.
Here’s my thought on the New Year’s Resolution Custom.
Stop promising to stick to something for 365 days in an effort to change yourself.
Instead, just love yourself as you are.
Yeah. Okay. We all know that ain’t going to happen. Advertising won’t let us and if it did, the market for self-help books would instantly vaporize.
So, if you do want to change a behavior, how can you improve the chance of success?
Commit to a shorter duration: a day; a week; a month. What length of time can you resolve to stick with something? Screw the 365-day custom. Identify a realistic time period that works for you.
Then, commit to that. And when you’ve achieved that length of time, celebrate your success. Toot a horn; find a friend and do a high five; do a jig if that feels good, but physically engage yourself in acknowledging your win. Huzza-yes!
January 1 is not some magical day on which all change should start and will gloriously last for 365-days.
The truth is, you can pick any day, or week or month to commit to change. And by shortening the length of time that constitutes success, you’ve redefined success, and success is more likely.
So, stop the January 1st New Year’s Resolution tradition of promising 365-days of change. Quit it cold.
That’s one resolution you should easily be able to keep.
My Monthly Resolution Story
One year I wanted to cut back on the amount of sugar I consumed, so I decided I would cut out ice cream. But the idea of denying myself ice cream for a year seemed impossible, so I told myself I’d give it up just for January. If I made it through the month, I’d consider that success. If I wanted to continue into February, I could decide that then. If so, it would just be one more month; if not, then in February I’d commit to walking 20-minutes a day, 5 days a week.
The first 10-days of giving up sugar was the hardest. Once I got through that, the rest of the month wasn’t bad, especially knowing that, as of February 1st, I’d be able to eat it again if I wanted to.
I made it through January without ice cream. I celebrated my success. I decided to continue my “no ice cream” resolution into February. Given I’d made it through the January craving period, February was pretty easy, again knowing I’d be able to eat it again in March if I wanted to.
Each month I didn’t eat ice cream, I celebrated my success. At the end of each successful month, I’d decide if I wanted to continue on. One month at a time I navigated and negotiated my resolve around ice cream; until December 31st rolled around. At which point, I had successfully stayed off ice cream an entire year.