New Year’s Resolutions!

Pop quiz: This year, my New Year’s resolution is: ___________
How many of you already have an answer for that question? I’m willing to guess that many of you answered that question by saying one or more of the following:
·         More Exercise
·         Better Calorie Control
·         Eat Healthier Foods
·         More Water
·         Quit Smoking
You may even have resolutions to:
·         Start That Blog
·         Write Your Book
·         Start a Business
·         Start Your Own Cold Shower Therapy Challenge (Okay, probably not that.)
Those are very good goals. I wish power and success for you to help you reach your goals in that you will start in 2014.
Wait. What?
As I write this, it is Tuesday, December 17.  The New Year is 15 days away. Why are you waiting until January 1 to start working on your resolutions, which is really only another word for “goals”?
Are you going to magically have more strength, willpower and decision-making skills in 2014 that you don’t already have? Will it be any easier to buy healthy foods in 15 days than it is now? Is 2014 the “Year of Guaranteed Success” but only for journeys that are started in that year?
Pretty ridiculous ideas, aren’t they?
No, the real reason is that right now, for the next two weeks, you will be bombarded with feasts, parties, events, meals and gifts of foods. The temptation of food will be omnipresent. You will be focused on all those activities for the next 2 weeks. Those temptations will steal time from you and you will be unable to go out and walk in the morning, or up a flight of stairs at work. You won’t have the opportunity to say “No, thank you” to that second (or third, or fourth) cocktail at the office party. You won’t have the budget to drink water instead of your daily  Caramel-Mocha-Mint-Latteccino (venti size, of course.)
Pretty ridiculous excuses, aren’t they?
You will have the same time, energy, budget in 2014 that you have right now. However, in you will be missing one thing that you currently have: 15 more days to work towards your goal, if you start right now! That is two weeks toward reaching your goal, two weeks toward creating a new habit, two weeks closer to success.
Additionally, in 2014, you probably will have an additional 1-3 pounds around your midsection from all the eating that you will do. (Great–more weight to lose!)
But here is what will happen to most people. You are going to wait to start your resolutions. And then, on New Year’s Day, you are going to wake up, and say, “Well, today is a holiday, and all the college bowl games are on, so I’ll start my resolution tomorrow.” The next day is a Thursday, and you all know that the best day to start anything is a Monday, so let’s just wait until…2015?
I am optimistic by nature, but a realist by experience. Most people quit on their goals. Many never even start. And that is too bad, because I believe that anything is achievable, as long as you start and never quit.
By the way, for any goals/resolutions such as weight loss, increased activity, smoking cessation, do you know the absolute best to start working toward that goal? No? The best time was any time before right now, so that you wouldn’t have as far to go before reaching success.
But since I don’t have a time machine, I can’t send you back into the past to let you restart, so the next best day is today. Right now.
If not now, when? If not you, who?

But even I have a resolution, effective today. I will avoid eating the delicious Caramel Cashew Chex Mix that I made last Sunday in preparation for upcoming holiday parties, and now stored in a 2.5 gallon Ziploc bags out in our freezing garage. And, like many people working toward goals, I am going to remind myself of that resolution/goal every day. (Because this morning I was unsuccessful in holding myself to this resolution.)
What is YOUR goal (not a “resolution”)? When are you starting?
Posted in Goals, Motivation
4 comments on “New Year’s Resolutions!
  1. Doug Tygar says:

    Hi Trevor — I agree with you and disagree with you a little!

    You ask why wait until January 1st to work on a New Year’s resolution. But, I think New Year’s resolutions are a good idea. Otherwise, there is a real “mañana” phenomenon (as you point out) — we might never get started.

    I also think that there is something moving about many people resolving to improve themselves in some way — each starting on the same day. Now, as you pointed out somewhere else, if that goal is weight loss maintenance, the statistics are severely against us. But still, some fraction of people will make it (and I plan to be among their number.)

    I also think that especially in communities where New Year’s has a religious function (such as Rosh Hashana in Judaism, or Diwali in some Indian-Nepali communities, or Chinese New Year), then the New Year’s resolution take on an extra seriousness. I do not know if that translates to more achievement or not, but it cannot hurt!

    • Doug, I get your point, but my philosophy is very basic. If there is something you want/need, if is an important goal, start today. Right now. Not tomorrow, not in two weeks, not at a special religious day. If it is a valid and important goal, then you start now.

      And you never quit.

  2. Chuck says:

    I have had my New Years Resolution written now for almost 6 weeks, and I have been working on it for the most part. Part of that was not to gain weight over this holiday season, so far so good.

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