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  • Writer's pictureSteph

Death to New Year’s resolutions

Updated: Mar 5


Two hands holding sparklers

This is the time of year when people ask me about my New Year’s resolutions. Which is always a delight because… drum roll… I don’t have any. Now, I used to have really elaborate ones, written down in triplicate and colour-coded based on the area of my life they came under. One year I had a spreadsheet. Another year a Trello board. Then I started using Asana.


All great tools for organising complex workflows, but sadly I was on the wrong mission altogether!!!


While coming up with all the good intentions was kind of fun to begin with, sticking with them never lasted beyond mid-February - mainly because tracking my progress almost immediately turned into a full-time admin job. So I eventually ditched the whole shebang in favour of a much simpler, less rigid system. And because I am such a rebel, I started mid-year. My new guiding principles were sustainability and novelty. This, I figured, would get me out of my admin-heavy rut.


Sustainability


I am sticking to a few sustainable good habits, like getting 10K steps in each day, hitting the gym three days a week, getting out of the house once a day, etc. Instead of tracking this religiously and declaring the whole endeavour a failure if I slip up even once, I am committed to not skipping the daily goals twice in a row, not skipping the weekly goals for more than a week at a time, etc. I’m otherwise flexible though.


This way, I do not abort the mission because I’ve taken a day (or week) off. Life is not Duolingo, nobody cares whether you have a 40-day streak of setting intentions in the morning or practising gratitude at night. Consistent effort pays in the long term though, so it’s good to keep the bigger picture in mind and the momentum going by not skipping more than once. To keep me motivated, I like to visualise how life might look like in five years’ time - if I quit vs if I keep going.


Novelty


Another nail in the coffin of any New Year’s resolution I’ve ever had? Boredom. If I do the same thing all the time, I get used to it - but not always in a good way. It’s easy to switch to auto pilot if I walk the same route every day without challenging myself to notice something new. But it’s not just about the mind. If I repeat the same exercises all the time, my body gets more efficient at completing them and they’re less effective, which can be super frustrating.


If I only challenge myself to do a little bit more of the same thing each day (like I did previously), I eventually get to a point where I run out of energy or time. Or patience. So I have to keep myself entertained by looking for new trails to explore, new podcasts to listen to, new activities to try. Running on the treadmill to the same playlist every other day gets boring. Running in new places, with new people, or while learning something new does not.


What kind of life are you committing to this coming year?

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