We hear it every time the calendar flips:
“New Year, New Me! 2020 is my year!”
Shut the fuck up. It’s not.
By tying your “transformation” to an arbitrary date, you’ve already lost.
Also, I don’t view myself as free from this faulty mindset. I have fallen into the “When this thing happens, I will make a change” mentality.
So when I say, “Shut the fuck up,” I’m also looking in the mirror. People put things off all the time, but for some reason, New Year’s serves as a sexy way to rationalize flimsy goal-setting, even celebrate it:
I’m going to quit smoking on January 1st. I’ll hit the gym once New Year’s rolls around. I’ll plan that trip to Italy first thing 2020!
All of the above is the same thing as:
I’m not going to start X until Y happens.
It seems like everyone buys into the New Year’s resolution hype, which makes it easier to procrastinate together.
“Hey, he’s going to make until January 1st to make a change, then I will too! Let’s use that as an excuse to put off beneficial lifestyle changes for three months then not make the changes anyway!”
Here are some reasons why New Year’s resolutions are bullshit:
January 1st means nothing.
I’m going to start/stop doing ‘X’ on January 1st is the same thing as saying I’m going to start/stop doing ‘X’ on April 29th.
New Year’s represents one day out of 365; it just happens to be the first. The other 364 days have the same amount of hours and opportunities. It makes no sense to wait until the first day of the year to make a change that you can implement today.
Why not start your “resolution” now?
Are you that weak that you need the calendar to flip to a particular day before you level up your life?
Are you willing to waste weeks, even months, to change your behavior because of a societal standard?
Let’s take smoking cigarettes, for example.
Flashback to June 2019.
You’ve decided that you’re ready to give up ripping heaters. You love smoking the casual cig on your warm walks to work, so quitting over the summer is out.
Then, your birthday falls in October. Are you really not going to smoke a pack on your birthday?
Then the holidays roll around.
So much stress. Yeah, maybe I’ll wait until New Year’s, and that will be my resolution. New year, no more cigarettes.
Keep lying to yourself.
Something will always come up. And even if nothing does come up, you’ll create an excuse for why you have to delay quitting cigs and rationalize that excuse to yourself.
Take ownership and start today.
Imagine the feeling of accomplishment you’ll have going into 2020 with six months of no smoking under your belt.
Then, imagine rolling over on January 1st, hungover as shit, making that state of mind the foundation of your smoke-free lungs.
Fat fucking chance.
Enjoy the Newports.
New Year’s resolutions are scams built to take advantage of consumers.
You know who’s hoping you push back your resolutions to New Year’s?
Every gym, health food place, and retail store in America.
The ‘New Year New Me’ mentality is a cash cow for corporations who play on the flimsy resolutions of their customers. Some companies have good intentions and create a path for customers to improve their lives, but many companies dangle resolutions to wring cash from your pocket.
Corporate America hopes for two things:
- That you use January 1st as motivation to buy that new car, join the gym, take that class, and clean up your diet.
- That you lose track of your resolution by March 1st only to keep your subscription, and recommit to the same “resolution” next year.
Ads lure you in, harp on your fleeting motivation, and hook you with the promise of a better life. It works, for them.
Cultivating good habits is rooted in discipline, not a start date.
Just because we’ve done it once, doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day the dust comes back. Every day we must sweep. The same is true for ego. You would be stunned at what kind of damage dust and dirt can do overtime. And how quickly it accumulates and becomes utterly unmanageable. — Danielle Bolelli (From Ego Is The Enemy)
For the two habits that have made the most significant difference in my life, meditation and intermittent fasting, I can’t remember the start dates. The day I began these practices doesn’t matter. What matters is that I meditate and fast each day, regardless of how I feel.
The commitment to these habits stands apart from my emotions.
When I feel like shit, I fast.
When I feel great, I fast.
My ass hits my meditation pillow for twenty minutes each morning, no matter the state of my consciousness.
Mastery lies in consistency.
Meaningful, long-term change doesn’t come from a lightning bolt work ethic, grand realizations, the turn of the calendar. It comes from consistently completing the small, manageable tasks and optimizing those tasks as you uncover more information.
Every day the dust comes back.
The motivation from January 1st might carry you through the first month of the year, but the dust doesn’t care. It will be there on February 1st, May 27th, August 6th, and the top of next year. If your habits aren’t tied to New Year’s, then to what do they wrap around?
Doing the work reinforces those urges to get back in the gym, curtail your spending, and put down the cake. You won’t be smitten by a constant wave of euphoria, but you will cultivate an inner peace that can only be replenished by meaningful work.
Here’s a quote by author E.L. Doctorow:
Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. (From Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott)
The same thing applies to common New Year’s resolutions. You don’t need to imagine the finish line to quit smoking, start working out, eat healthier, or get over a breakup.
There is no finish line.
Once you think you’ve crossed it, the process will reveal another checkpoint.
Plan out the next day or week. Don’t apply pressure with the thoughts of your 2025 self.
If no resolution, then what?
I’m not against New Year’s, only the resolution aspect. I’ve spent many January 1st’s hungover and fiending carbs.
The difference is that I don’t expect to be a “new me” when I wake up. I’m the same me: a hard worker, a podcaster, a writer, a bit of an asshole, a friend, a brother, and a son.
The flip of the calendar does not flip a switch within me. Only I can flip that switch, and the next day, I’ll flip it again.
Don’t make January 1st something that it isn’t.
It isn’t a magical 24 hour period that fuels change. It’s another day. Use it to be present with your family and friends.
Grab beers at a bar, cuddle up in a cabin, or call your buddies from the comfort of your bed. Don’t cloud the moment with false promises tied to the abstract power of an arbitrary date.
You are who you were yesterday and who you will be tomorrow.
Long term change lies in consistent action regardless of how you feel. One day doesn’t leave a lasting impact, but you can make a tiny dent.
Thousands of days and dents later, the old frame will be unrecognizable.
Burn your bullshit resolution.
Put in the work today.
Happy New Year,
Originally published at https://www.auxoro.com on December 12, 2019.