I can’t say I have ever made a New Years resolution that I have stuck with. I am sure I have made some but I cannot recollect a resolution I have made. I’ve either been partying far too hard, been too busy working to care or as of the last couple of years already in go mode and focused on something I had previously planned. I spent the last two January 1’s getting up at 5am on to make sure I was out the door running by 6am to prove my point. Nothing wrong with this but purposely choosing to buck the calendar year just to do it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. These days, months and years exist as they do for a reason and there can be power in that for many. I don’t personally feel it the way some may but I have also never put a lot of emphasis on it. Do dates matter? Almost certainly, if I were to say otherwise you would be calling me a hypocrite because I for damn sure am not missing my wedding anniversary for anything. But the thing is I am also not waiting for my anniversary to do something nice for my wife, I literally write something in my planner every day to do for her. It is often small, like today I picked her up a coffee from her favourite place, tomorrow it might be a nice note or a video message. If I waited until our anniversary to do something BIG for her you would all think I was an asshole, she would think I was an asshole, I would probably think I was an asshole and I for sure wouldn’t be married.
Now from a relationship standpoint this all makes sense. So why doesn’t it from a personal standpoint? It took me so long to connect these dots for myself and I watch people struggle with it everyday. Why do we think of the date in the future as a starting date? Why do we assume that eating a few more fries, drinking a few more beers or smoking a few more cigarettes is going to make it easier for us to start stopping the shit we shouldn’t be doing or starting the shit we should. Over the last couple of weeks when I am scrolling through social media (stopping this should really be my resolution if I were to have one) I have seen a plethora of “New Year new me”, “I can’t wait for 2022” and “fuck I need 2021 to be over” posts. I literally had a friend who will remain unnamed post a picture of his banged up truck which he slid into an as far as I know unmanned, stationary dumpster and the caption read “fuck you 2021, I am so done with you”. Like this guy seriously blamed the year we are in for his shitty driving. These posts blow me away, like somehow the sun that rises on the first of January is different than the one that falls on the thirty first of December and will magically make you or your situation better.
This is where the issue is.
We are constantly searching. Searching for the right time, the motivation or the perfect circumstances. Waiting for January 1st to roll over on the calendar is the ultimate Monday. You know the person, you might even be the person. I know for a point I was the one that said “Monday is the day”. Man was I good at waiting for Monday. I have spent so many days of the week lying to myself about this coming Monday being the day, “finally I will get up early just let me sleep in the next couple of days first” or in the past it would be “I’ll just have this one last shit meal and start on Monday” I would tell myself. Somehow it never happened and even if I did start on that Monday I probably flamed out by Friday when I wanted a beer and some fries at the end of a long day of work.
I had to break it to myself and apparently I wasn’t the only one that needed to learn this. Whether it be Monday or January 1st nothing is going to be different if you aren’t and different doesn’t happen all at once, it takes a long fucking time. There is a Chinese proverb I love “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now” if this doesn’t perfectly exemplify the point I am trying to make I don’t know what will. Now there are tons of stats out there on the failure rate of New Years resolutions. I think it is something like 25% of people fail in the first week, knowing that New Years fell on a Friday I would assume that most of that 25% that will fail may have already done so because they told themselves that they would just start on Monday. For all those that have stuck it out for 2 days so far just know the stats are not in your favor, something like 9% of people actually feel like they held true to their resolution. To those that read this and think “fuck you Clint, I’ll be one of those 9%” you are awesome, I love you and I believe you, a little chip on your shoulder is an incredible way to get the fire started. For the rest of us over here who don’t remember what we ate for lunch today never mind what we decided on 365 days ago it’s time to write some shit down and adjust the lens with which we look at resolutions with.
I think I made it obvious that I hate waiting for a specific date to start something. That being said some planning should go into any goal or resolution but I don’t view planning as waiting. Most people spend December binge eating, drinking and watching not planning, strategizing and preparing for January 1st or whatever date they have set in their mind. This makes it so much harder than it needs to be. We look at start dates as the date we will do the thing. If you are setting a goal it is never “by December 31st I will have worked up to working out 1 hour per day” or “I will have built up to writing 500 words per day. It is always “on January 1st I will go to the gym 5 days per week for an hour” or “I will start writing my book”. The latter is either vague or unachievable. If you aren’t going to the gym 5 days a week right now do you really think you will find the time to go magically at the turn of the calendar after you spent a month not going?
Here is what I have adjusted for myself and what I propose, especially if you have already failed at your New Years resolution or failed in the past and are worried about failing now. Instead of setting a 2022 resolution, set a 2023 resolution. Set something to work towards rather than something to hopefully not fail at that you then have to wait another year to start. The cool thing about doing it this way is you can start anytime and work your way up. It is no longer an all or nothing feat of will but an ever increasing habit snowball. You can decide right now that by January 1st 2023 you will be (insert goal here) and then instead of an overwhelming gargantuan task looming in front of you, you can break it down backwards from the end of the year so that it is more manageable at the start. You can actually set that goal and decide that you will spend January researching and planning on how you are going to do it.
None of this guarantees success and you are still going to have to work hard for what you want but if you want to increase your opportunity for success I recommend relying on building momentum rather than hoping motivation will be there when you need it. I know for myself motivation tends to leave me when things get the hardest and it is in those times I am grateful I have cultivated habits and momentum to help me roll through the tough spots. So join me in saying fuck 2022 resolutions and start your 2023 resolution whenever you read this.