Every Monday morning, I send a little bit of motivation and something to consider throughout the week to everyone on my email list. (If you’re not on it, get on it!) The subject of today’s email was "How's your New Year's Resolution going?" because I wanted to talk about New Year’s resolutions for two reasons.
The first reason is that now is a good time to check in. Only 8% of people stick with their resolutions. We’re a third of the way through 2019. It’s not too late to get back on that wagon. You still have eight months left of this year. A lot can happen in eight months.
Second, and more importantly, I wanted to point out that you can make a resolution at any time. Time is a social construct. The only reason that today is Monday is that we as a society have decided that today is Monday. It's arbitrary. January 1st is only a day for resolutions because we’ve designated it as a special day, but there’s nothing inherently special about January 1st.
You can make resolutions at any time. The universe doesn’t know whether it’s April or January. All it knows is that you have decided to put in the work and make something happen.
And that’s all a resolution is. It’s just a decision. Every day that passes where you don’t go after the change you want to create is a day where you have decided not to. You can create positive change, but you have to decide to make it happen. And for many, resolutions are a great way to make that choice happen.
Deciding not to decide is something I talk about fairly often. With any new habit that you want to build, decide not to decide—that is, make the decision now that this is a habit you have and do every day. Then when the time comes to take action, there’s no option to not act. You’ve already decided that you’re going to do it.
You can make any day special. You have the power to decide at any point to create a #randomresolution. All you have to do is decide, and whether you realize it or not, you’ve been deciding every day. The lack of action is still a choice. Have you been making the decision that you want to make?
Don’t wait. You don’t gain anything by waiting. I often say,
Time will pass whether you’re using it or not. In five years, you can be enjoying the results of your hard work, or you can look back and wish you had started five years ago.
In the eight months between now and the beginning of 2020, you could lose thirty pounds. You could train to run a 10k. You could comfortably become an early riser. You could stop procrastinating and actually go after the things you want.
Or you could ring in the new decade looking and feeling exactly the same as you do now (or worse). It’s up to you. Who will you choose to be?
Create your #randomresolution today. Start today. The time is now. Some of the best decisions are the spontaneous ones.
How To Stick To Your Random Resolution
1. Keep it reasonable. Don’t try to overhaul your entire life at once. It’s important to start small if you want to create sustainable change.
Consider yourself on your lowest days. When you are at your most tired and least motivated, will you still be able to accomplish your resolution? If not, it’s too big. Make it smaller. It’s okay to start small. One minute of cleaning your apartment every day is better than no minutes of cleaning. As you do your one tiny new habit every day, you’ll build consistency, and small change made consistently is how you create massive improvements.
2. Find. Your. Why. I think I say those words in every single post I write, and with good reason. No matter what it is that you’re doing, know why you’re doing it. Write it down. Find the inherent rewards. When you know what’s coming to you as a result of your consistent action, it’s much easier to find the energy and motivation to take that first step.
3. Define yourself by it. Make your new habit part of your identity. When I started working out regularly, I made it a part of my identity. I thought of myself as someone who is in shape, values fitness, and goes to the gym almost every day. I portrayed myself that way to the people in my life. Before long, it was expected of me.
Now, even on the days that I don’t want to go to the gym, I think, “I am someone who works out regularly. This is what I do, and I get to go to the gym.” I know that the other regulars that I’ve befriended expect to see me there and that taking care of my body is something I value, so I go.
If you can make your new habit part of your identity, you’re more likely to do it. Rather than, “I want to meditate every day,” tell yourself that, “I am someone who meditates every day.” It will become much easier to stick to your resolution if it is closely tied to your identity.
Conversely, it’s hard to break habits that are closely linked to our identity. If you’re trying to break a bad habit, make sure that that habit no longer supports your identity of yourself. You may need to shift how you identify in order to make this work. For instance, if you’re trying to break the habit of procrastination, never label yourself as a procrastinator.
4. Make a plan. Know when and how you’ll take action. Where exactly does this new resolution fit into your schedule? If you’re breaking an old habit, what will you do with that time instead? Knowing how to use your newfound time will make you less likely to go back to the old habit because you aren’t sure what else to do. Calendar block it out so you have a plan of action rather than a nebulous idea.
5. Write it down. You are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to reach your goals if you actually write them down. In one study, the 3% of college students studied who wrote down their goals and made plans to accomplish them were earning 10 times as much as the other 97% combined ten years after they were initially surveyed.
Doesn’t that sound appealing? And all you have to do is write it down and plan it out.
6. Figure out if you should or shouldn’t tell others about your goal. Personally, I know that telling others about my goals helps me stick to them and see them through. I don’t want to have to admit that I haven’t reached my goal. Knowing people are expecting me to do something makes my commitment stronger.
For some people, however, telling others about their goal makes their brain feel rewarded and they no longer feel the need to go after that goal. For some, having others acknowledge the work that we want to put in is enough, and the desire to actually put in the work fades. But because actions are the only thing that actually matters, this is counterproductive.
Consider your own experiences and whether or not you are more or less committed to goals when you tell someone else. Then, based on that knowledge, either go tell the world or don’t tell a single soul and blow everyone’s minds when you show up at the Christmas party looking better than you did at 18.
It’s time to choose change. You get to decide how to live your life. Your habits are your own. Don’t wait. You don’t gain anything by waiting. In fact, you lose time, which is our most precious and limited resource. Create a random resolution.