I was recently talking with a friend and he told me that he wanted to make a habit into a resolution for the new year.
This got me thinking.
What benefit is there in not starting that new habit now?
Does it have to be January for you to be serious about a new skill?
It does not.
What you’re doing now is what you will be doing in a month, and in a year if you don’t make immediate changes. It does not matter when you decide to implement a new habit. What matters is that you implement it. What matters is the execution.
However, most people who make resolutions don’t understand this as we can see from the data about resolutions. A whopping 9% of people achieve their resolution. Additionally, the older you get, the harder it is to achieve your resolution as evidenced by the fact that 37% of people in their 20’s achieve their goal compared to just 16% of people over 50.
“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” – Warren Buffett.
Habits are hard to change or create. Thats the point of having them. However, this same stickability to old habits is what prevents you from creating new ones. That means that the moment you feel the need to redirect your attention or energy, you should do it. Do not wait until 1/1. Do it NOW. Strike while the iron is hot.
An NBC article about New Year’s Resolutions stated that the top requests people make of themselves are to:
- Get healthy
- Get organized
- Live life to the fullest
- Learn new hobbies
- Spend less
These are all vague. What does live life to the fullest even mean? That can mean 1,000 different things to 1,000 different people. You achieve goals and create new habits by being definite. You also cannot create 6 new habits at once. So it should really be your one, single and lone, New Year’s resolution. But if you are going to start it in two weeks when the clock turns over, why not start it today? That gives you two weeks on all the people who are waiting to change their lives.
If you’re thinking about hitting the gym in January, get a membership today. Don’t wait. Get in the rhythm of working out immediately. When practices are scheduled, when they are done consistently at the same time, and in the same place daily, they become habits.
Let me give you an example. I have been trying since last December to get myself into a daily habit of mindfulness practice. I do this using the app Headspace, which I always recommend to others when they say they want to meditate.
I finally accomplished this by setting my alarm 15 minutes earlier and making this the first thing I do when I wake up. I don’t get up and let my dogs out. I don’t even go to the bathroom unless absolutely necessary. I sit up in bed, turn on the app and do 10-15 minutes of guided meditation.
I didn’t write out what I wanted. I didn’t think about all the ways I could “hack” my life to make this practice occur. I just woke up and started doing it. And that’s what you need to do in order to create a new habit. Don’t overthink it. Reverse engineer what basic events need to occur in order for this habit to exist in your life, and start doing them.
What matters is the execution.
You want to go for a run 3 times a week? Make sure you have running shoes, set out all the gear you need in the morning and when you get home from work, change into that gear and go for a run. Don’t stop to watch a YouTube video, don’t socialize with your roommate. Walk into your room, change clothes, and leave out the door.
Remember, you win by DOING the action you want as a habit. Not by planning it, not by thinking about it, not by telling your friends. There’s actually evidence that telling people will make you worse off. You win by starting now. Not by waiting. The timing will never be just right, but with a little determination you can change your habits and sculpt yourself into the person you want to be.
So don’t wait for the ball to drop and the clock to turn over. Don’t wait for a later date to appear on your phone’s home screen. Make the changes required to get what you want immediately. It might be hard now but at some point you’ll thank yourself for having the gumption to do what most cannot. In starting now, you will realize that New Year’s resolutions are just a scam to sell gym memberships and new savings accounts.
It’s a new year, every day.