When it came to new year's resolutions, for years I followed this pattern:
- Wait for New Year's Day.
- Make my new year's resolutions.
- Not write them down.
- Start on the 1st of January with high expectations.
- By the end of January realise that I'm only a 5th of the way through.
- Give up & decide I'll try again next year.
- Wait for New Year's day.
Can you see how much is wrong with this picture?
Firstly, I'd have done so much better if I had started planning my new year's resolutions a month before starting them, so that I had time to do some proper planning.
Secondly, not writing my resolutions down opened the way to small but significant reductions in the scale of my goals.
Thirdly, to be 1/5 of the way through by the end of the 1st month means I would finish 7 months early, but instead of seeing myself as ahead of schedule, I saw this as inadequate progress and became disheartened.
And lastly, why wait until January?
Time is part of nature. It's the forth dimension.
It's unavoidable and largely uncontrollable, but years, months, days, hours, and minutes are not time. They are measurements of time.
These man made concepts are created for one purpose. To help us synchronise with other people and the natural world.
Furthermore, the calendar is a separate concept entirely. Sure July is a month, but so is 12th April- 12th May. So in reality a new week, month, and year start every day, in fact you could say every second.
Calendar months exist only to allow us to align our activities with the seasons. Hours help us align with the rising and setting of the sun, and both calendars and timepieces help us synchronise our activities with each other.
They are not sections of time that we have to work within. There is no law that says we can only start an activity, or the measurement of an activity, at the start of a day, a month, an hour, or a year.
These units are merely markers for us to use or ignore as we see fit. So if you have given up on your New Year's resolutions for 2017 this is great news. It means that you don't need to wait for the start of the next year. Just pick a marker that comes sooner and start there. Tomorrow, next week, or at the start of the next hour.
It's all the same. Every marker serves as well as any other. Whether it's 1st January 2017, or 1st July 2017, or 16th July 2017, or 16th July 2017 at 9:48am. Every second is another marker that you can use to restart your resolutions. Why waste 11/12 of your life waiting for a start line that you choose where to place?
Whilst we're at it there's a second rule that can be challenged here. Why do your resolutions need to be 12 months long? You could start a resolution today to complete by this time next year, or you could set some resolutions that you want to achieve in 5 months and start the next round on 1st January.
So I challenge you take your resolutions and start them as soon as possible, because if you start 5 months earlier you will reach you goals 5 months earlier.
The resolution checklist
To help you set your resolutions, here's some quick tips from the goal setting world:
- Plan in advance - Allow enough time to plan properly before the start time you choose. A well thought out plan has a much better chance of success.
- Vision - Make the time to visualise where you want to be at the end of the time that you've allowed. Imagination is more powerful than willpower so visualise where you will be after keeping your resolutions regularly to keep the dream alive.
- Write them down - without this you will be tempted to subtly reduce your resolutions when they seem difficult. Write them down or print them out and put them on the wall. Make sure your printed plan includes measurables. Things that you can measure that will clearly define whether you are succeeding with your resolutions or not.
- Measure your progress - Check in regularly with where you are verses where you need to be to achieve your resolutions within the time you have specified. Be realistic. Don't expect 80% of your results in the first half of the time that you've allowed.
- Break your resolutions down into daily habits- It's not what you do, but what you do daily that makes the difference. Just because you shouldn't be slave to the calendar doesn't mean you can't use it. The best way to stick to your resolutions is to stick to them every day. At the start of each month plan the progress you need to make that month. The same with each week, and day.
- Be kind to yourself - We all have occasional off days so if you don't fully succeed with your resolutions every day, don't beat yourself up about it. That doesn't mean decide not to stick with your resolutions but if things go astray just accept where you are, forgive yourself, and try again another day. It's OK to falter every now and again, just don't plan to falter if you truly want to succeed.
- Don't wait until January - don't be slave to the calendar - Pick a start time that's soon.