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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7 thoughts on “A Tip For Better New Year’s Resolutions

  1. I don’t usually make resolutions, though I do set work timelines and deadlines. And you’re right–specificity is key. In everything, really. From feedback to presentations to New Year’s Resolutions. 🙂

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  2. Specificity is SO helpful when setting goals! I always find that if I’m not specific, I end up weaseling out of whatever I told myself I’d do, or finding ways to get around my self-imposed rules. But if I’m specific, there’s no getting out of it!

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  3. Hi. Thanks for this, I found your blog by a circuitous route and I am enjoying catching up on your posts. I also don’t normally make resolutions but I like the idea of setting a goal to start doing something specific, rather than general … I will have a think about what goal to set, as I have already got the flossing nailed (mostly) 🙂

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