New year. No resolutions.

Welcome to 2020. A new year. The start of a new decade. The magical time of the year when most folks sit down and make a list of things that they have no real intention of doing during the year. Let be honest. Most resolutions are half baked at best. I ran across an article that lamented that 80% of people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. And most people lose their resolve by mid-February. Really? Mid-February is the best that most people can do? Absolutely. Making resolutions sucks all the joy and passion out of the process if learning and growing.

Now I’ve posted before that failure is a good thing because it gives us something to learn from. At the same time, setting yourself up to fail with a resolution that you won’t or can’t actually achieve doesn’t really give you much useful to learn from. I think that the whole “resolution” thing at the beginning of the year is pointless.

  • First. It just seems arbitrary in general. The first of the year is just another date on the calendar. There isn’t any real significance to it. Its one more trip around for the planet, but that’s about it. There isn’t anything special or magical on the 1st of January that’s going to help you accomplish your resolutions any better than any other day of the year.
  • Second. Most folks aim too high. We resolve to make massive major changes in our lives. Mostly we just doom ourselves to fail. We resolve to do things we have never done before, or massive life changes. Tough stuff. Stuff that we wouldn’t really consider doing any other time of the year. But come Jan 1, we convince ourselves that we can totally make this happen. Yeah. Nice try Skippy. If you haven’t been going to the gym all year long, resolving to go this year probably isn’t going to change that.
  • Third. The focus is all wrong. We generally focus on the things that we feel are wrong with us that need to be fixed. The broken parts that we think we need to change. The things that we feel we are deficient at. So our resolutions are focused on negative things to begin with. That’s not helpful. Its easier to change if you want to because you are passionate about the thing you want to do.
  • Fourth. We give ourselves a fixed deadline which creates an artificial pressure to succeed. Its a New Years resolution. We have to do another one next year, so we have to get this one DONE this year. And that can make it feel like work or drudgery or a obligation. That’s not helpful either.

I’d rather use my time to focus on small incremental changes in my life. It makes more sense to me to focus on what I can do tomorrow rather than what I want to accomplish this year. Priorities change over time. And lots can happen in a year. Life often gets in the way so you need to be able to adjust what you are doing. Why not focus on what you want to do today, and what you want to improve for tomorrow. Start with the first step, and approach it realistically day by day. You can still make big changes in your life, just give yourself the time to do it right. You want to learn a language. Great. Do it because you want it, because it sparks a passion within you. Don’t do it because you resolved to do it this year. Habits are easier to build if you are energized and engaged in the process. Just do something today. Then if you enjoyed it, do it again tomorrow. Repeat that process every day and before you know it you have a habit and you have progress.

That’s why I’m not making resolutions. I’m setting goals instead. Small ones. Goals that I can accomplish in the short term. Then I can take the win, feel good about myself for accomplishing my goal, and then use that momentum to set a new goal. That’s how you move forward. I still have big goals that I want to accomplish. But I’m not concentrating on those big goals. I’m working on little tiny parts of them. If I can accomplish those little tiny goals, then the bigger goal takes care of itself. I have a bunch of things that I want to do and accomplish. But I’m taking them one day at a time. I’m eating the proverbial elephant one bite at a time.

What do I want to accomplish today? What do I want to do tomorrow? What about this week? That’s what I’m focusing on. I’ll deal with next week when it comes.

So if you are determined to make a resolution for the new year, why not just resolve to take the year one day at a time and work a little each day on things that you care about? That’s a resolution that you can actually accomplish.

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