I love New Year’s resolutions. A fresh start is a great gift. Perhaps it is the greatest gift (that’s what Christmas is all about.)
We are sometimes burdened with habits we have allowed to shape our lives. But we also blessed with good habits.
It’s good to celebrate the good habits and the results they have brought. And in that spirit, look at other results we would like to see and think of the habits we would need to introduce to bring them about.
The problem some people introduce into their New Year’s resolutions is the concept of “breaking” it. The implication is that, once it is broken, it is useless. That can be a problem for an addict, of course, but for most of us, “breaking” a resolution can be just a bump on the road. We need to take a lesson from the pollsters and look for results that are “within five percent nine times out of ten.” A new behavior can be a lifestyle change even if we only observe it eighty percent of the time.
A couple of years ago we changed the way we eat. We now eat primarily wholesome nutritious foods. We are happy with the extra energy (and the taste.) But we made it a lifestyle change and not hard rules. So I will celebrate with our extended family and have a slice of sugar laden birthday cake, even though we eat almost nothing with sugar in it at home. I don’t feel guilty about it, because I know it is a one-time thing. The habit of eating good food is now ingrained.
Last year, I introduced a resolution to write every weekday morning. I have probably only made sixty percent but I am still very happy with the results. It is now a habit which I plan to build on. And I have added some discipline this year to help me raise that percentage.
I’ve also chosen several other areas of discipline that I want to add to my repertoire in order to finish some projects and get them behind me.
I’ve been told that introducing a new habit can be accomplished by doing it thirty times. So, my goal is make the introduction of my new behaviors a finite thing. I don’t have to feel I am doing it forever…I only need to have a plan for thirty times. And since it is finite, I feel free to engage some help from others to keep me to it. And hopefully, after thirty times, those behaviors will become non discretionary. That is, I won’t have to decide to do them because they become part of who I am. The prime example in my life is swimming. I hit the pool 4 times a week without ever having to think about it. If I had to decide every morning, I wouldn’t do it.
And one of the keys to my success in developing a writing habit has been to tie my writing to my swimming habit. I swim first thing in the morning and then write immediately after.
I’ve also decided (actually my wife suggested it) to use one of my other established habits – soduko puzzles – as a reward for fulfilling one of my newly introduced behaviors.
So I’m looking forward to working on my New Years resolutions. And I will celebrate small victories.
And I will celebrate the things I don’t want to change!