The One Secret To Making Your New Year’s Resolution Stick

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Uh oh.

Here it is. Day one. The day everything is supposed to change in your life. How’s it going? Can you feel the metamorphosis? (Cricket…cricket)

Ok, well it doesn’t have to start today today, right? I mean, you might be a little tired/hung over to start today. Plus it’s a holiday! Everything is closed. You’ll start tomorrow. The year is long! Well maybe not tomorrow. I mean it’s already Thursday. And who wants to start on a Friday? Why not wait until the weekend?

And so Day 1 covertly turns into Day 4 and 5 without your knowing. ⅙ of the month gone, and the pressure to change something in your life mounts.

Don’t do that to yourself.

Don’t let this pressure of must. change. now. hang from your neck like an anchor.

Because that’s not how change works. You are not a cyborg. You can’t just change focus when you want to. If you could, New Year’s resolutions wouldn’t be a verbal graveyard a few weeks from now.

What we so often forget is that manufactured New Years momentum quickly evaporates under the blinding rays of what you’ve always done. The archaic, colossal habits effortlessly suffocate the chirps of want, should and supposed. The only way to combat this reality on a random, cold Wednesday in February is with an arsenal of daily habits that you have been ingraining and feeding for weeks on end, out of site of the old you.

Here’s the thing about change, for it to begin to take hold you won’t even know or feel like it has. There is a reason you can’t start driving a car in 5th gear. You haven’t earned the right to enjoy what the car can do at high speeds yet.

Because research shows that it takes 66 days for a habit to truly form. (That’s March 7th for everyone starting today.)

This is the son-of-a-bitch about the whole thing. We don’t like these two realities: change we can’t feel, happening over periods of time longer than we prepared for (see: why people still fight evolution).

But knowing this fact is power to you. Don’t ignore it. In the beginning:

Do Less Than You’re Capable Of

Usually, to prove to ourselves how great we are at the time of change or at the onset of a new project, we’ll do exactly what we’re capable of. But, if we do that, our over-zealous benchmark will quickly be the thing we can’t reach again.

Everyone who has tried to run 4 miles the first time out after having run a total of 0 miles the previous 6 months knows what I’m talking about waking up on Day 2: hamstrings more taut than bridge cables, and dealing with a back as supportive as a house made of Twizzlers.

So when you’re trying to incorporate a new habit in the beginning, don’t try to do as much as you think you could. Your brain has delusions of grandeur. Run ONE mile the first 3 times out.

Some people try to write 500 words a day but when they can’t after 3 days, they quit writing altogether. If they tried to write 250 words a day, it increases the chance of the new task (writing everyday) becoming a habit. Let roots take hold before you try to build your tree.

So take a deep breath and don’t be so hard on yourself for not being able to immediately start doing the thing you haven’t been been able to do any day before.

No one can. No one has.

January 1 is just another day. There is nothing in the water, in the planets, in the astrological signs that say anything has to change right now (you should have started your change on the equinox to get all that foofy alignment stuff in order).

Change happens at one indecipherable step at a time on whatever day you choose to. So whenever you do start, start slowly and stick with it even when you don’t feel change.

Summary of 2013

I know people like round up emails so, in my blog this year I ended up with 34,000 words (so many more words got edited out during the creation process). I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Bassam, you could have totally cut that down to like 33,995 or so if you weren’t so unnecessarily verbose.” Maybe. But me and my verboseness are quite a team. Sorry.

The average blog post took me 3.3 hours to write, post and link. That’s 3.3 uninterrupted hours. These things don’t just appear off the top of my head, folks.

The longest post took me SIX hours to write. That was the “happiness” one. 2 posts (this and this) took me 5 hours to write.

One thing that’s for certain though…every post was written in 30-minute uninterrupted increments. 30 minutes is definitely less than what I’m capable of if I absolutely had to write as much as I could in one sitting, but it’s what works for me.

Same thing for my upcoming 2nd book (which you’ll get in Feb/March). For the final 11,700 words that still sit in a google doc, it’s taken me 29.5 hours over a period of 6 months, all at 30 minutes at a time.

Baby steps, baby.

Happy new year and all the best to you in 2014!