My resolution is to have no resolutions
If you haven’t heard, the earth recently completed it’s 4,543,xxx,xxx, orbit around the sun. Now if you ignore the first couple billion years, you’ll land at some point in time where humans roamed the earth. Fast forward a bit more and you’ll be at a place in space and time where human beings began thinking that the earth completing its orbit meant they were given another chance to improve their lives, change who they were, and fulfill the goals they couldn’t get to in the midst of the previous orbit.
Often times this reset button revolves around becoming healthy, making more money, spending more time with family, being more positive, or one of the many other aspects of our lives we feel need improvement. No one stops to think about why or how this started. Why on January 1st, millions of people around the world feel that they have another chance. If something is accepted and becomes social norm, we don’t question it and jump on the bandwagon. Questioning it makes you a douche, especially if you’re writing a post about it on Medium telling people they shouldn’t partake in it anymore, because most people hate the uncertainty. They hate the idea that what they follow may be wrong, because then it means they need to change something, and active change is often very uncomfortable.
Active change is the key term here. The reason “active” change is specified is because it requires us to move. To change. A lot of people don’t realize that change is always happening, it’s the only god damn constant in the universe, and a lot of times it happens so slowly we just don’t notice it. But our lives are always slowly changing. As C.S. Lewis brilliantly wrote, “nothing changes day to day, but you look back and everything is different…” Keep that in mind as you read this. Your life is completely different today than it was January 13th, 2015, and each year before that on that date. Whether or not you did anything to result in that change doesn’t matter, all that matters is that life is different now to a certain degree. Understanding this will help you move your life in the direction you want at a much faster pace than before.
For the next 4–5 minutes, I’m going to be a douche and tell you that resolutions are bullshit, and then I’ll try to salvage our relationship by presenting a simple idea that might work better than your typical “2016 is gonna be my year!” mindset.
The beginning of the year doesn’t mean anything. Most people understand that time is linear but choose to look at it as cyclical. They believe that everything starts over on January 1st, when in reality, the last day of 2015 and the first of 2016 aren’t really any different. In the Americas it’s still cold. Chances are you’re still drunk or hungover and a million dollars didn’t fall into your lap, and you didn’t wake up with all your clothes not fitting because you’re suddenly 50 lbs lighter with visible abs and sub 10% body fat. So, now what? How do you reach those goals? Here’s a quick list of what you don’t do;
- Write down your 2016 resolutions (you’ve probably already broken or forgotten about them 2 weeks in)
- Post them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc (no one gives a shit)
- Tell everyone that this year is going to be different (seriously, no one gives a shit)
- Thank 2015 for the lessons and say “2016, I’M COMING FOR YOU” (2015 doesn’t exist anymore, neither does 2016, you only have right now)
- Eat a crazy healthy breakfast and throw out all your junk food and soda (you’ll end up restocked by February)
- Break up with your significant other (you’ll probably end up back together in a few weeks/months)
None of that will get you anywhere because random acts of grandeur never lead to success. Your habits and the theme of your life lead you to where you are. You’re now in a point in your life that was created because of the things you did day to day. You gave importance to work and school over your health. You felt it was better to stay in a relationship that was hurting you more than it was helping you because you didn’t want to be alone. You did x because of y and you’ve done that for __ years and fail to realize that the improvements you want never happen. The change you want doesn’t come. Your life changes in some positive and negative ways, but never 100% in the way you want it to. So instead of focusing outward on all the things you feel are in your control, go inward. Don’t look at the number on the scale and think about how you can reduce it or increase it. Don’t look at your next promotion and think about all you can do at work to raise your chances of getting it. Shift your thinking. Shift your idea of resolutions to a theme that you’ve created around your life. Your priorities and habits are internal and they lead to the external life you’ve created. Make a different kind of list, one that really sucks to write down because it makes you feel naked. Try this:
- write down what feelings and emotions lead you to eating crap foods
- figure out WHY you want ______ position at your company and what you think achieving it will give you
- dig deep and find out why you’re afraid to be alone, or why you’ve settled for someone you know isn’t good for you
Write those reasons. Cross them off. Write them again. Write the why behind each one, then write the why behind that why. Repeat this process until you’re in tears or in so much frustration that you want to throw your couch out the window. Because unless you go 5–7 degrees DEEP into the reason you do the things you do, you won’t get to the root of the problem, and you’ll get distracted, and in your haze, the problem will fester inside you, resulting in a 2016 which isn’t what you want it to be.
I don’t want resolutions this year, because they’ve never done anything for me in the past. 100% my fault, because I focused on external changes solving internal problems. What I want this year is to change the theme of my life. To change the reasons behind my behavior. To build a solid foundation so that I don’t make the decisions that deter my journey toward my goals and aspirations. I’m trying something new here and being a pleb by telling you about it before I know if it will be worth the effort. I’m changing the ideas I have in my mind and heart toward the way I live my life. Here’s my master plan, if you follow it and it works, please let me know. If you follow it and it sucks, do whatever you want. Make a fake profile on twitter and tell me I’m an ass and troll me for a couple weeks. @awftyy There you go.
- Develop a loose framework for the way I want to proceed with my life
- Give myself a relatively large margin of error in everything except my health — AKA if I need to write 1000 words a day but end up missing a few days of the week, it’s okay. I don’t wait until Monday to start over, I just accept that I messed up, write down why I messed up, and if I have time, write as many words as I can in that moment, and try not to miss the following day
- Slowly reduce that margin as time goes on. If I need to do something 7 days a week, in January I can miss 2–3 days and it’s no biggie. Starting in February I reduce it to 1–2 days and so on
- Create a reward system for when I have a 60% success rate for each month — that means in the 31 days of January I need to workout at least 18 days and I’m good. If I hit that mark, I get to buy a camera or go on vacation somewhere nice. If I don’t, the reward gets pushed to the following month
- Increase the success rate expectation. Just by 2–3% each month. 5%/month increase seems like a lot. So by the end of the year, I’ll be sitting at 84%, or about 25 days of ______ task in whatever month
- Don’t beat myself up over a missed goal — if you’re in a fender bender, you don’t jump out of your car, grab a crow bar and smash your headlights. You simply thank God or the universe that you’re okay and the damage is minimal. Similarly, if you mess up your healthy eating, don’t binge on pizza and soda. You reset in that moment, forgive yourself, and continue eating better or doing whatever it was you planned on doing. If you didn’t write your business plan by the deadline you gave yourself, don’t say “Screw everything!” and watch Netflix for 10 hours. You grab a pen and paper, work on it for a bit, and extend the deadline realistically so that you’re able to hit it
- I write down what I did and how it made me feel — some economist once said “what gets measured gets managed” You measure your improvement in life by writing down what you did each day toward your goals and how it made you feel. If you don’t write it down or have some visual representation of your progress, you’ll forget and feel like you haven’t made as much progress as you have. Having some way to track your journey shows how far you’ve come
- I remember that I’m human and I’m allowed to have my vices…in moderation — almost no one can drop a habit immediately and never suffer withdrawals. We’re all human, so we’re bound to be driven by selfish desires and want something which, in moderation is okay, but in excess would destroy us. So I’m giving myself a pass for certain behaviors in brief instances on my journey toward ________________(I don’t know my end goal yet, but I’ll allow myself some days of mischief on the way)
That’s it. For now. This isn’t a full proof system. It might suck horribly or it might have some level of success. It all depends on how I follow it. The important point to consider is that this list doesn’t have a specific set of goals I want to achieve. It’s a way to change my self-talk and internal dialogue to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic failure. It’s a look inward, into my mistakes and behaviors that lead to me giving up or convincing myself that I don’t need xyz when that’s exactly what I need but am far too scared to face.
Drop the idea of a resolution and focus on creating a system that changes the path you’re on. A system that develops an abundance of positivity inside you where mistakes aren’t final and you learn to readjust when you inevitably do something you said you wouldn’t.
And lastly, keep your process to yourself. Don’t post your daily wins or visual representations of your goals for the world to see. Don’t tell everyone on Facebook that it’s your 5th day in a row at the gym, because you’ll just trick yourself into thinking that a few likes and comments means you don’t have to hit the gym on the 6th day. Keep the good feelings inside, forgive yourself for the bad that comes up when you mess up, and everything you write down on your journey to success should be somewhere only you can see it.
Change the theme of your life. Keep it to yourself. Become successful. And clap for your damn self. The world doesn’t need to know what you’re doing as you’re doing it, your results will outshine any humble brag you post on social media.