Why You Should Work Even Harder During the Holidays
Get a jumpstart on 2020 & avoid holiday momentum killers
People often complain that New Year's resolutions don’t work, but they do. I’ve used them successfully for the past few years. At the beginning of this year, I made a resolution to write my third book. The book I’ve spent the entire year working on will come out this January.
Why do my resolutions work when others seem to get no traction? Simple, I come into each new year with momentum. I’ve been working on my purpose for years now so that momentum helps me take things to another level each new year.
Most people end the year in the worst possible way. They spend the entire holiday season embodying the phrase “eat, drink, and be merry.” I’m not saying you can’t have fun during the holidays, but damn, it seems like some people slow themselves down as much as humanly possible.
Then, the night before their supposed “New Year, New Me,” campaign, they get drunk and wake up on the first day of the new year with a hangover absolutely zero motivation.
Again, I’m not here to shun anyone for the way they live. In fact, I’ve let go of most moral qualms with most things. I use one metric to determine whether or not something is “good.” I look at how useful certain decisions seem to be. Is it inherently bad or evil to “live it up” to finish out the year? No. But does it seem useful? Hell no.
You want to find the right balance between work and fun, right? Live is meant to be lived. You’re not here solely to work on your passion and build a future empire. But consider how much fun you leave on the table by not being focused on your mission. How much future fun are you giving up by living for the now?
Is it fun to feel unhealthy?
How much do you love feeling like your life is on a recurring loop where you promise yourself each year will be new, but it isn’t?
How much fun is staying in a career you hate, having your dreams float in the back of your mind, and feeling like you’re constantly stuck?
You know what’s fun for me?
Waking up and being able to do whatever I want is fun. Working hard on goals I care about is fun. Building a legacy, financial flexibility, and a catalog of my thoughts to leave the world when I’m gone is fun.
I’ll admit, I probably sacrificed too much “present moment happiness” to get here. But I don’t regret it at all. Because I sacrificed five years to build freedom, I have the rest of my life to figure out what’s truly fun.
At the end of the day, this isn’t about trying to become this magically better holier than thou person. It’s about finally putting yourself in a position to succeed long-term.
You fail to change because you get stuck in patterns. You have the innate talent level to pull off your definition of an above-average life. Given the right circumstances, you’d be able to develop a level of motivation you can sustain for years. Honestly, that ‘thing’ you really want to do with your life isn’t necessarily hard in and of itself, but all the mental weight you add to pulling it off makes it hard to pull off.
The patterns you develop over time create that mental weight. Each time you finish out the year in less than stellar fashion, hoping to randomly find motivation come January, you mentally replay all the previous years where this strategy didn’t work.
You add unnecessary mental pressure, which makes it harder, which makes you fail, which further reinforces the idea you’ll never change.
Well, what if you started right now? Today. December 9th, three weeks earlier than usual. You’ll interrupt your pattern.
There is no mental data of you failing at the beginning of December because you’ve never tried it. In fact, you’re already embodying a “new me” attitude because you’re doing something the “old you” wouldn’t do.
Each action you take that “old you” wouldn’t do adds a little subconscious signal to yourself that, this time around, shit’s going to work out.
Success is the process of breaking bad patterns and creating new, better ones. That’s it. And you’re not just fighting against your own patterns, you’re fighting against the patterns on society as a whole.
You’re not the only person who follows this destined to fail New Years' resolution routine. Almost everyone does it. I have a simple mantra I’ve carried with me for a long time that helps me be successful — whatever most people do, avoid it or do the opposite.
Society is littered with these counterproductive yet accepted modes of being. I can almost always look at a normal person in society and use them as a benchmark for what to avoid. Sorry, not sorry. On the whole, people don’t seem to be all that happy, enlightened, and excited to live, so why would I want to live like them?
Not all conventional wisdom is wrong. Actually, much of it is quite good. Some of the big ones, though, screw people the most. Essentially the wisdom that it’s a good idea to live according to a corporatist, conformist, indentured servitude style of living where you encur giant piles of debt.
This ethos trickles down into the attitudes and behaviors of most people, which is why I avoid behaving like them. I know the source it comes from and I don’t like it.
Think about the holiday season itself. It’s the corporatist propaganda SuperBowl. Swipe that credit card until you get arthritis — not because companies care about you sharing heartwarming gift exchanges, but because you’ll stay in debt to keep working that job you don’t like.
Eat low quality food, get drunk, party, and don’t focus on your future Wouldn’t want people coming into the New Year awake and aware, can’t have that.
None of our holidays are about appreciation, gratitude, and real reflection about our lives. I’m not saying don’t enjoy your holidays and become some minimalist Luddite. I’m saying to understand the game being played around you. Zig while everyone else zags.
Imagine yourself entering the gym the first week of January with three weeks of progress under your belt. You’d already feel part of the gym and would look at all the “newbies,” with your nose turned up a little bit in a healthy way. You won’t feel like one of them.
Imagine spending your time outside of the holiday festivities working on your new project. While everyone else around you completely takes their foot off the gas because they can’t stand their work lives, you ramp up and prepare your escape. The contrast you see between those around you and the way you feel inside will motivate you.
Again, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with normal people. But do I use them as a mental juxtaposition to improve my own mood and motivation level? Absolutely. You need all the little mental hacks you can get to pull this “life path” thing off. Nothing wrong with a little bit of silent egotism if it helps you.
Ask yourself how you want to live. And then ask yourself if living like the people around you is going to help you get there. Once you answer that question honestly, start getting to work.
Ayodeji is the author of You 2.0 — Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You. Want a free copy of my first book? Get it here.