Did you make a New Year’s resolution? If so, how’s it going? According to a social network called Strava, which somehow conducted some research into the topic, most people who make New Year’s resolutions end up breaking them by January 12. So hang in there: you apparently only have to suffer through a few more days of compliance before you can go back to those old habits.
The Strava research seems to have focused on exercise and dietary resolutions, which are probably the most challenging resolutions of all. People buy that health club membership and start eating leafy green vegetables for dinner with the best of intentions, but are felled by unrealistic expectations of what will happen. When those unrealistic expectations aren’t met, they fall off the wagon. And then, after they fall off the wagon, they figure it’s hopeless to try to change and totally give up.
I think making resolutions makes some sense, and the start of a new year is as good a time as any for some self-reflection and consideration of how a beneficial behavioral change might be in order. There’s nothing wrong with trying to get more exercise and be more healthy, but why stake your New Year’s resolutions entirely upon goals that experience teaches are incredibly difficult to reach? Maybe we should start small, and think about little, reasonably achievable resolutions that might just make you a better person and improve your life at the same time. Consider, for example, this list of 58 New Year’s resolutions that don’t involve dieting or exercise. It’s not exhaustive and right for everyone, of course, but it may give you ideas for the kind of resolutions that are suitable for you.
This year, I’m going small with my resolutions. I’m going to clean out my closet and give the clothes that aren’t being used to a charitable organization. I want to go through what we’ve got stored in the basement and the pantry, figure out whether we’re using it, and donate what’s unneeded to the Goodwill. I’m going to tackle my emailboxes and iPhone photos, delete what I don’t want to store forever, be happy about the reduced clutter, and see whether that improves my phone battery life. And while I’ve done a better job of leisure reading this past year, in 2019 I’m going to up the ante by identifying and then reading through to the end at least one really mentally challenging book.
Making goals is a good thing, but reaching those goals is even better.