Today is the first day of November, and I’ve already got my New Year’s resolutions up on my wall.
You see, this winter I’m embarking on three reverse resolutions: instead of planning out what I will do after midnight on January 1st, 2012, I’m making that same date my official deadline.
New Year’s resolutions usually last about as long as the leftover cake. There is no shortage of articles out there that lay out common pitfalls. Here are a few I’ve come across:
- Resolutions are usually too vague: Most people rely on what the New York Times called “old standbys,” like getting out of debt, saving more, losing weight or getting organized. “The typical resolution often reflects a general desire, rather than a specific goal,” writes Tara Parker-Pope.
- People take on too many resolutions at a time: Parker-Pope cites studies that suggest willpower is a limited resource. If you’re trying to find the time to improve in all categories, you’re much more likely to become overwhelmed and improve in none.
- Midnight magic goes flat faster than champagne: There are plenty of cultural artifacts depicting New Year’s Eve as an enchanted night. We count down, we kiss, we gather around shiny things, but when we wake up a few hours later, we’re still the same lazy goofs we were “last year” — except maybe a little more hung over than usual.
- Even if you hit the ground running, it’s hard to stay motivated: Ian Sample of The Guardian writes that when people falter, they quickly become disillusioned. They then focus on the downside of their resolutions instead of the resolve that first inspired them.
- Break their goals into smaller, measurable steps.
- Periodically reward themselves for making progress.
- Announce their plans publicly or work with others.
- Focus on the benefits of the change instead of the difficulties.
- I will make my lunch every night before work. I will stop lying to myself about doing it in the morning. I’ll save money and be able to put much more thought into what I eat. And I won’t spend my short breaks standing in mind-numbing lineups.
- I will read one book per month. That means two books by January. I spend so much time reading daily/weekly/monthly publications that I seldom find time for a texts that have, well, chapters. This goal is totally doable. I will read some books I really want to read, and not the ones that I think I should be reading. (The latter usually end up abandoned before the halfway point.)
- I will mindfully exercise three times a week. This will be a significant leap from my sporadic bike rides now. I’ll walk home from work at least once a week, bike until it gets too cold out, and power dance in my room if it comes down to it. (Uh, don’t picture that last one.) This is, admittedly, my vaguest goal and the one I will have most difficulty with. The good news is that I want to be healthier, not skinnier, so I won’t be weighing myself and all that stressful nonsense. Instead, I’ll put my fingers on my neck and try to normal respiratory rate faster.
If all this goes according to plan, I’ll blog about how well I did on the first day of the new year. Then, as a reward, I’ll allow myself to sleep in and have cake for breakfast.
If that’s not incentive, I don’t know what is.
BTW: Are you interested in taking on some reverse resolutions? I could sure use the solidarity. Let me know in the comments.