The New Year’s Resolution debate

Photo by Heather Ford on Unsplash

I remember when New Year’s Resolutions were a given.

Like giving up a vice for lent, or a gratitude recitation at Thanksgiving, no one questioned the idea of starting the new year with a declaration of ambition.

Working out, working on yourself, or even working less were common.

Then a few years ago, a few cutting-edge, anti-establishment blogs rallied against the practice. New Year’s resolutions commonly fail, they are a fallacy, a fool’s errand. And now, January 2020, it feels like we’ve come full circle as a society.

Those who declare “New Year, New Me.” are as silly as those who declare the earth is flat.

But studies on habits and addiction show us that change requires a trigger.

And, if that trigger for you is an arbitrary date on a calendar created by a dead Roman dude, so what?

There’s the danger of what John Romaniello calls the “Monday Mindset.”

Waiting until Monday, or January 1 to change means that we’ll double down on our bad habits today. January is when it all changes so let’s have that extra cookie or glass of booze. We’ll make up for it later.

However, there’s nothing wrong with today, January 1 making some improvements.

Maybe you won’t stick to going to the gym through March, but working out for two months is still an accomplishment worth striving for and achieving.

Maybe you’ll slide off the sugar-free train come Valentine’s day. But, sugar free for 6 weeks and reseting normal habits can have long-lasting positive effects.

Here’s how I know.

In July 2019, I decided to go booze-free for 30 days. I made it 34 days. After that, I slipped slowly back into old habits. But after a month of socializing booze-free, I had trained my mind and body with being ok with club soda at parties. With finding out that I like just plain grapefruit juice at brunch over a paloma. I felt great for much of the year… I had reset my “normal” consumption point and stopped a destructive cycle.

Then, this past October, surrounded by friends at my favorite event of the year, I asked myself why I was drinking again. I knew I didn’t have to.

So over Margaritas, two friends of mine and I decided we’d make another commitment and together go 100 days without booze. Today is day 62 of that challenge. I’ve got 38 to go. The 30 days back in July was the kickstart I needed to make 100 possible and make the next challenge easier. I’m resistance training myself off booze.

So back to our January gym conundrum. Maybe you only make it a month, but you did it. And in a few months when you’ve slipped out of the habit, you can slip back in until 1 month turns into 3 and eventually into a routine.

And who cares if it’s cliche that you started in January? You started. And even working one time or stopping sugar intake one day can create a habit that has a ripple effect down the road. Maybe you have 5 resolutions and you only stick to one.

Heck, this post is a result of my declaration to write 750 words every day in 2020. Maybe I’ll make it every day. Maybe I’ll only do 100 days. Or maybe this post will end the chain. And if it does, at least it was written. And one “failed” New Year’s Resolution allowed something to exist that didn’t before.

So go ahead, decide that today’s the day to join the gym or quit booze, or start meditating. Just don’t beat yourself up if total transformation doesn’t happen on the first try. When you fall off the wagon, grab back on and climb in. Because here’s the deal, nobody is keeping score except you.

Been a direct response copywriter since 7th grade when I wrote a 30-page sales letter asking my crush to the dance. freelancecoop.org