A Tip For Better New Year’s Resolutions

New Years ResolutionsBetter as in more sustainable, successful, the kind you don’t forget about come January 22nd.

I made my most successful New Year’s resolution to date for 2011: I would no longer buy clothes at H&M, mostly because my closet was at least 50% H&M and I was buying too many things I did not need. I have not shopped there since.

My second to most successful was for 2014: reading at least one newspaper article a day. Which I did until circa July. Only then did laziness set in and New Year’s seemed too far away for the resolution to still matter.

Other resolutions were such a failure that I don’t even remember the year I made them. Exercise more. Eat better. I just looked at my journal to see which resolutions I made for 2015 – I never wrote them down and now I’ve forgotten them. Maybe I wanted to meditate? I did that until February… I think.

So what was the secret ingredient in 2011 and 2014? Specificity. Never going to one specific store. Reading one article every day.

Compared to that, “eat better” doesn’t mean anything. It should have been something like: Cook three meals a week that include at least two vegetables and no meat. Eat X servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Not eating X, Y, and Z.

Accordingly, my 2016 resolution is specific (but not as great an example for this strategy as the variations of “eat better”): I will floss every day. 2016 and beyond will be an era of dental health. This is slightly daunting, as my life expectancy as of January 2016 is 54.78 years. Three minutes of flossing a day adds up 60,025.35 minutes (1000.42h, 41.68d, 5.95 weeks), including leap years.

Maybe I should have refrained from doing these calculations. But I will put the floss in a convenient, highly visible place and get in habit implementation mode.

What are your 2016 resolutions? How will you make them stick?

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Final 2015 Experiments and November Results

IMGP2114 KopieToday is December 1st. So how did my November experiments go? I am so glad you asked, because they were a resounding success! Double drumroll and early firecrackers, because really, who wants to wait until New Year’s Eve?

  1. Yoga: 27/30 days!!! On November 4th, I did the “best” tree pose ever. With my foot on my thigh, not my calf. I can now almost do tree pose. I am more flexible. I am not that much stronger, because I had a cold for two weeks and did a lot of restorative yoga. But without this experiment, I probably wouldn’t have moved at all during that time, so major win. Even on busy days, I added three minutes of yoga to the end of my day, giving myself some breathing room. From now on, I want to keep practicing at home, but I won’t be as “strict” as I was this month. The new goal will be not to miss two days in a row.
  2. Studying French: 28/30 days!!! Some vocabulary, some emails, and mostly reading a novel and short stories (Onitsha by Le Clézio and Les Yeux de Soie by Françoise Sagan).

I learned from last month’s mistakes and documented whether or not I did these things every day, and I’m pretty sure that was a large part of why things went so well. I also got rid of one thing on most days, so the low-key Minimalism Game was a success, too.

New month, new experiments. So of course, another drum roll for December:

  1. Read a chapter of my electrocardiogram book every day. An advent calendar of sorts. Clearly I go to medical school.
  2. Study French medical vocabulary for 10 minutes every day. Since I took the easy route of “just” reading for most of last month, this experiment is more specific. I’m going to be writing index cards and then studying them so I can start my semester abroad confidently.

These are realistic, since 10 minutes are not long, and the chapters in the ECG book are very short, too, about 5 pages each. Make-ups are allowed because December is a busy month.

How are you ending the year in a stride?