New Year’s Resolutions are a recipe for disaster.
We make a new list full of old favorites: lose weight. Go to the gym. Travel more. Save more money. Drink less. Quit smoking.
A year later, most of us remain the same — with extra pounds, an unused gym membership, unstamped passport, empty bank account, phone full of drunk texts and cigarettes in the glove compartment of our cars.
That might be a little dramatic, but you get the picture.
When we try to tackle a bunch of lifestyle changes all at once, of course we’re going to fail. That’s why this year, I’m not making new year’s resolutions, I’m making new six-week-chunks-of-time resolutions.
Six weeks is a wonderfully short amount of time. You can do anything for six weeks. It’s just a little bit longer than Lent, so if you’re used to giving something up for Lent, you can probably adapt to this kind of resolution rather easily.
Rather than make a laundry list of habits I don’t like or aspects of myself I want to change, I’m taking this year six weeks at a time. I figure, if I can form a habit in six weeks, it might just stick for the rest of the year on its own.
Of course, even lessening the time period for a resolution doesn’t guarantee that I’ll actually commit to it. I’m a visual person, and I need some sort of way to hold myself accountable. To help with this, I’m using a hard-to-ignore wall calendar to plan my six-week periods.
One of my resolutions is to get back into a routine of working out (real original, I know). But since nagging injuries have left me unable to run as frequently as I used to, exercise takes a lot of planning for me now.
So, at the beginning of the six weeks when I want to focus on that resolution, I’ll use that calendar (with the help of the Nike training app, I’m sure) to plan a gradually intensifying workout plan, complete with rest days and workouts in and out of the gym.
Having a paper calendar where you have to physically cross off whether or not you did that day’s activity, rather than a mobile reminder on your iPhone you can easily ignore, really helps hold you accountable. And that can be the trickiest part of keeping a resolution — unless a friend is pushing you to stick to your desired change, it can be difficult to motivate yourself. The calendar should help that.
Once the first six-week period has gone by, really focus on how you — your body, your mind, your quality of life — have changed in response to that resolution. Did you keep it? If so, awesome! If not, should you try again?
If your overall feeling is that your life has somehow improved from keeping that little six-week promise to yourself, you have created a value worth sustaining. You might find that the way you feel then is better than how you felt when you were still drinking pop, going out four times a week, eating junk, etc. etc.
If the six-week resolution didn’t work for you, and you decide it isn’t worth the lifestyle change after all, if your life really isn’t better because of it, then scrap it for something new. Six-week resolutions have the beauty of potential: potential to be recycled or potential push you forward.
Happy 2016, and good luck!