It’s that introspective time of year when people start thinking about their shortcomings and what they might do about them, in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. I can already envision the post-holiday crowds forming at health clubs everywhere!
I consider myself a pretty well-adjusted person, but there are obviously things I should do, but don’t (and vice versa). In fact I’m sure that I could easily come up with a dozen changes I would like to make in my life. This raises a question: do I try to make all of these changes beginning on 1 January 2006, or should I prioritize them and pick just one for 2006? I’ve been given good advice on attempting massive changes in habits — it doesn’t happen without concomitant motivation, e.g. your life hangs in the balance. I don’t have such a threat hovering over me, so the shotgun approach is out.
But instead of attempting one Resolution for 2006, potentially failing to stick to it, and maybe even picking up another bad habit this coming year, I thought of another possible approach: How about a monthly resolution? I’ve heard that if one can willfully change their behavior for a full month, the new behavior becomes habitual, i.e. something that doesn’t require effort to maintain. If I adopted this approach, I’d have 12 chances for self-improvement in 2006. Heck, if even one of these things “stuck” I’d be doing better than most people with respect to New Year’s Resolutions! But being realistic, I know that I’m likely to fail at least as often as I succeed in this endeavor, so I’m not going to queue up a new resolution for every month. Instead, I’ll allow for several “do-overs” starting about April (or later, on the off-chance that I’m successful in January and February).
What sort of resolutions would be good candidates? Well, it seems to me that they should be daily (or more frequent) tasks, particularly things that are important to me — my family and my health are the first general things that come to my mind. Some possible specifics might be:
- Ensuring the chores are done every day (both the kids’ and our own)
- Bicycling daily (either commuting or recreational)
- Getting my “5/day” veggies and fruits
- Flossing every day (here I am married to a dental hygienist, and I only floss once or twice per week, tsk tsk)
A dozen monthly resolutions seem like a better approach to self-improvement than the typical New Year’s Resolution. I’ll pick something easy for January and see if I can stick with it throughout the month. For February I could take the next easiest task, and so on. Hmm, if I kept at it for a few months perhaps I would get into the habit of changing my habits. 🙂