I’m Starting My New Year’s Resolutions Early

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Thanksgiving just passed, but I’m already excited to make some changes in my daily routine — and you should consider it too. Setting goals now will give us a big milestone on January 1st, when everyone else sets their own. That way, we can be held to the higher standard of our “pre-New Year’s” resolutions.

At least, that’s the plan.

As I prepare for the holidays, I know that the busy semester I leave behind will quickly be in the rear-view mirror. The gripping cold of winter in Nashville will take hold, and business will start again at the turn of the year (just don’t tell anyone north of the Mason-Dixon Line that I think it’s cold here).

So, as I line up for my holiday-themed latte, I want to get a head start on the goals I have in mind for the next year. I am working to:

  • Improve my productivity
  • Become a better writer
  • Find time for myself

But I’m a graduate student. With a 3 year old toddler. Writing for fun.

And I’m sure you’re busy too — as a freelance writer, entrepreneur, holiday party planner you read Medium to explore and learn just like I do.

Whatever your grind, we can all use a minute before the holiday crush to consider our personal ambitions for the next year.

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Set boundaries

I have spent far too many nights catching up on a deadline I knew about weeks in advance. And my focus during the workday is slacking too. I often catch myself switching out of work mode, surfing Twitter and Slack, hoping something distracts me.

So for my resolution, I don’t aim to work more or less, but to work productively. This means spending time in the office on projects and deadlines, not following up every notification on my laptop screen.

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

And by focusing first on what needs to get done, I hope to have a stronger focus on my other goals — honing my writing skills and taking time for myself. Without deadlines looming, I can immerse myself in my other interests and enjoy them without feeling guilty.

I encourage you to take a different approach to working productively since, newsflash, you aren’t me.

Maybe you’ll try one of those apps that keeps you out of social media or off of your smartphone. Or you could try the Pomodoro method that has been effective for some.

Whatever you decide, be ready to stick to it. Otherwise, turn back now (the rest of the article depends on having a little extra free time).

Work on that hobby

Armed with a streamlined workday, I will pull from all of this magically allocated free time to write for 30 minutes a day (this is a joke — I will, of course, be making the time to write).

That is, I will write about something in my long list of writing ideas for 30 minutes a day. Email and work will not count.

And since you’re reading this on Medium right now, there is a good chance you might also be pursuing writing as a hobby. In that case, feel free to spend 30 minutes writing alongside me each day.

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

What is more likely, however, is that your hobbies are a bit more refined. Maybe you’re into wood-working, or baking, or learning to play an instrument. Whatever you decide to do with this time, it should both enrich you and bring you joy.

I very much enjoy writing, especially as I winnow my thoughts into a finished product — even writing this article about faux-resolutions is cathartic. Writing is also enriching for my lifestyle and career — the better I become at conveying my ideas, the further I can take them.

Now, there’s no need to be that lofty (I’m a bit of a dreamer). If your goal is to play “Wonderwall” on the guitar a year from now, then by all means tackle “Stairway to Heaven” next year.

Treat yourself

I used to be a book worm, but have since lost my touch. Since I’m trying to be more proactive about time for myself, my goal is to read for 30 minutes a day. It is a shortcut to leadership, after all.

Photo by Thomas Despeyroux on Unsplash

Luckily for me, reading fills two gaps. It’s relaxing and comforting, plus I get the added benefit of improving my vocabulary and writing style — right in line with my goals of productivity and self-improvement.

And, shocker here, treating yourself will look different in your life than mine. The point here is to find something enjoyable that trades stress and deadlines for peace and relaxation.

Forget my goals of passive learning while I read the next dystopian novel on my list. Indulge yourself! Go to a yoga class. Pick up a new video game. Find yourself a routine that allows you to escape the high-intensity world we live in.

Enjoy a little time for you — your mental health will thank you later.

Hold yourself accountable

Highlighters at the ready — this is the most important part of the article. Whatever resolutions you chose above, you picked them for a reason. And it’s on you to make sure you meet them.

Some of my goals are easily attainable. I know that I can improve my productivity — the first step is admitting that it’s even a problem. The other two resolutions are a bit more lofty. Set aside an hour, per day, just to read and write? Who is this guy, Father Time?

But even if I masterfully fail by spending a little bit more time reading and writing than I do now, I consider that a success. So, let’s see what starting a resolution now can do before the holidays officially take over.

Photo by Sabina Sturzu on Unsplash

Dad and statistician. Writes about data, science, and data science.

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