New Year’s non-resolutions

As a rule, I don’t believe in new year’s resolutions. If you’re going to make a lifestyle change, it’s going to take more than a single date on the calendar and a good idea. Which is why 92% of resolutions fail. It’s hard.

What is really great about new year’s resolutions is that you’re either identifying a weakness and trying to minimize it or seeing an opportunity and trying to take advantage of it. That can be a valuable and educational exercise. But the terrible part is really the time frame: 365 days is too long, too daunting. At the first lapse it’s too easy to get discouraged.

This year I embarked on a new year’s resolution of a different sort. At almost the one-third mark, it’s still going strong. I’m not calling it a resolution, because it’s not a single decision point. Instead, it’s a year of exploration.

That’s because instead of trying to make a change or do something for a whole year, this year I've broken it up into one month chunks.30 days is much more manageable than a year, and easy to power through if the “thing” isn't working, isn't interesting, or is too difficult.

Every month I’m trying something different. The goal isn't to make a major lifestyle change all at once but rather to learn something. There isn't a specific learning goal for each month, just a challenge to do something consistently and see what comes of it. Every new behavior uncovers information of some sort, which hopefully produces a learning experience. But if it doesn't, that’s a valuable data point as well.

Here’s what I've done so far:

January — no drinking

This one is easy. The holidays are long, the parties are plentiful, and I’m feeling cruddy about all the calories at this point anyways.

February — wear a tie every weekday

I've never had a job that required me to wear a tie. Especially now. By picking a tie to wear every weekday I found that I diversified the use of my wardrobe quite a bit. It forced me into collared shirts, for example. There’s a few good combos, including knit-ties with hoodie, that I would never had tried otherwise and have now made their way into my wardrobe.

March — write down everything I eat & drink

Wow, my diet is *not* diverse. And I eat a lot of rice. And ice cream. And not a lot of veggies. And an average of three 16oz mugs of PG Tips tea with milk every day. Not really making any diet changes, but I’m definitely a bit more diet aware.

April — speak French to my daughter M, W, F

We've always had an idea that we would give our kids the gift of bilingualism, since I speak fluent French and my wife is learning. Since my 6 month old is in full-time day care three days a week, those are the days I picked to try and speak primarily French. This has been by far the hardest exploration so far, because 1) it’s constant in every interaction and 2) my wife & I speak English so it’s hard to switch & easy to forget. I’m hammering through the month, and will take some lessons away with regards to how we’re actually going to about teaching the kids a second language at home.

May — haven’t fully committed yet, but I’m thinking of doing 5 minutes of core & stretching work every morning.

So there you have it. Resolutions are for the birds. Experiments & exploration are where it’s at.

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