Kristjan Vingel

On New Year’s resolutions: a word of caution (+tips)

December 06, 2019

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Christmas is coming, and many people all over the world promise to either quit smoking, fix their diet, or learn a new skill. That’s awesome!

However, all this is easier said than done. And, there are a few problems with this tradition.

The main problem is, why wait until the new year? Why postpone something that one could start right this moment?

In fact, it’s probably not postponing. There’s most likely something else at play - a very deadly player that kills your ambitions, goals, dreams, and wishes before you even know that. Its name is “rationalization”.

Rationalizing why we need to wait until a certain date is almost a sure sign that we’ve failed before we even know it. Or we know it but don’t admit it: either way, a massive red flag.

The thing is that habits work as they always do. The beginning of the year doesn’t change anything in the way our brains are wired or how synaptic pathways are formed. In other words, your mind doesn’t give a shit what day it is.

Besides, why waste time? We have to value our time. We don’t live forever. Ask yourself: “How much longer do I keep disrespecting my time and, therefore, myself, before I start doing what I know I need to do?”

It is indeed not respecting yourself. Think if someone would promise you to do something and then just comes up with lousy excuses why he didn’t do it - over and over again. I’m sure you would see that behavior very disrespectful. So, why do we do it to ourselves? But that’s another article.

So what is a good way to not fail at following through the New Year’s resolutions?

What I’ve found out is that if there’s no emotional leverage, we’ll fail almost certainly.

It basically means that you need a reason - a “why”. In other words, the “pain” of continuing the old way has to be bigger than changing yourself. There has to be a real emotional reason behind the change. E.g., focusing on not smoking vs. focusing on having a healthy life or exercising in order to look fit and cool vs. to feel more powerful about yourself.

Focus on the “why” and not explicitly on the thing, and I guarantee you, it’ll make things a lot easier.

I have one more tip.

It takes around 90 days for a habit to sink in. So, if you’re making a promise to do something, do it every single day for 90 days no matter what. It’s very important to take it seriously. Because if you don’t, then I can tell from my (plenty of) experience, that it doesn’t work out.

KRISTJAN


This is the personal website of Kristjan Vingel. He likes to code and write about self improvement.

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