A quick thought about New Year’s Resolutions, you know, since 2011 is fast approaching. The key to keeping a New Year’s Resolution is to plan for the whole year. One of the most common resolutions is to quit smoking. I’ve never smoked, so I’ve never had to quit. I’m not attempting to say that it is easy, hard, easier for some than others, or anything of that nature. I am simply wishing to discuss how one might go about keeping that resolution, or any other resolution, but using quitting smoking as an example.
1. You have to mean it. Any resolution you make that you might do, provided nothing goes wrong, provided your emotional support backs you up, provided any number of things, is an empty resolution. If you say, “I’m going to quit smoking,” but you don’t mean it, save your breath… you’ll need it to smoke with. (That sounded judgmental. I apologize. Even if it was funny.)
2. Don’t be all or nothing. Give yourself some breathing room… you’ll need it to smoke. (I’m sorry!) If you put out you “last cigarette” at 11:59 pm on December 31, 2010, and do well all the way up until 2:47 pm on January 3, 2011, when you find yourself outside freezing your ass off with your co-workers on just a quick smoke break; don’t decide that the whole resolution thing was a bad idea. Sit down. Remind yourself why you set your resolution. Start over. Rinse. Repeat. Your resolution was to quit smoking (or whatever, fill in the blank). Find it in your resolve not to be defeated by a slip up.
3. Perhaps take it in small steps. Reduce the amount you smoke, and the amount you buy over the course of the year rather than just quitting. You can always decide at any point to just go cold turkey if the slow reduction starts to work better for you, or you can move your deadline up to be finished with it.
4. You have to mean it. Nothing will work if you’re not serious. Humans are very good at finding excuses. If you don’t have a healthy hatred of your excuse making ability, you’ll instead congratulate yourself on realizing what went wrong, and for discovering sooner rather than later that you weren’t cut out for that resolution you foolishly chose. Resolution. Resolute. Resolve. Think about those words. If you’re not resolute, if you don’t have resolve, then you have no right to be making resolutions anyway. Go find some other dumb tradition to follow.
5. Make other resolutions throughout the year. Once a day. Once a week. Once a month. The first day of a new season. Every 100 days. It doesn’t matter. New Year’s Resolutions have a bad reputation because they are forgotten until the following year. Don’t take a whole year to remember them.
6. Some factoid that I can’t cite and hope that I’m remembering right. I read somewhere that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I’m sure that’s not based on science, but it’s at least something to consider. I also know from experience that it takes far less time to slip back into old habits. I think this is because while it may take only 21 days to form a habit of intent, a lazy habit can sneak up on you.
7. My own little factoid. I realized something a while back, and I’m giving myself credit for saying it this way, because I’ve never heard it said this way: “It is said that if there was a formula for success then everyone would be successful. I say that there is a formula for success. The reason that not everyone is a success is because the formula for failure is easier to follow.” – Chris McGinty
8. You have to mean it. I mean that.