avatarBob King


Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

Just start new habits today

Photo by Marisol Benitez on Unsplash

New Year’s is a time of resolutions for many. Resolving to stop bad habits or start good habits. Resolving to set new SMART goals. Making firm decisions, written down, to improve in the new year, turn over a new leaf. These are all made with good intentions and are not to be rejected out of hand. Some people succeed.

But for everyone who succeeds there are many more who fail. And why do they fail? Many reasons, but I believe one is they are tying themselves to a date and chaining themselves to expectations based on a future they can’t control. They are starting on a process that is begging for disaster, stepping out on a limb that will ultimately break.

Goals are great but they are the future, habits are today. Habits are the stepping stones on the path to tomorrow and the future beyond. Goals are usually focused on achievement over some time. Habits are focused on doing the work to achieve success by establishing regular practice.

And habits can be built starting today. They don’t have to wait for some arbitrary starting line. They allow for missed days. You aren’t establishing an unbreakable chain. You begin and if you miss a day, you just start again. A habit builds on itself, one day at a time. It’s like putting one foot in front of the other, with occasional glimpses at the future, but not a steady glare.

Photo by Sean Quillen on Unsplash

I liken it to my hike in the Grand Canyon many years ago. I hiked from the South Rim to the Colorado River and back up on the Bright Angel Trail in one day. In July. I did it because the river was calling my name and because I didn’t have a reservation at the campsite at the bottom.

Going down was easy, gravity pulls you down. But coming back up is a bear. It generally takes twice as long to hike up than to hike down. There is a section of the trail about a mile up from the river that is called the Devil’s Corkscrew — aptly named. It is about a mile or two with constant switchbacks and no shade.

The way you get through is just to put one foot in front of the other. Never look up because you will get discouraged — it is 4500 feet from river to rim -and don’t look down, because you get delusional — “I must be near the top.” Just put one foot in front of the other and you will eventually get to the top. “What goes down must come up” is the motto and reality.

There is no best time to hike it, and it’s not a race. It is just something you do because you want to. So too with habits. There is no starting line, you just start when and where you are. Over time you will develop a rhythm that will propel you further.

Just like I started Medium about a year ago and determined to keep writing regularly and did throughout the year. Did I miss some days? Yes. But I determined to keep going. Not to complete so many articles, get to so many followers, or so many comments, but just enjoy the journey.

You might ask “Why are you writing this now?” That’s the point — don’t wait for the magic moment to start. Do it now and get a head start on the rest.

So, follow the advice of James Clear in Atomic Habits and start building habits that will change your life. And let others moan and groan about how early they bail on their New Year resolutions.

Thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. — especially if you are a recovering New Year's Resolutions warrior.

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New Year Resolution
Personal Development
James Clear
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