So I really hate new year. Not because I hate the possibilities of what a new year can bring but it has always seemed strange to me the pressure that people put on themselves to change on January 1st. The idea that this is the date and time in which all things change and our bodies become fitter, we stop smoking/drinking has always seemed strange to me. (perhaps it is simply a response to the excess of Christmas).
This has really bugged me this year, but as I started the blog yesterday it struck me why.
We can so easily put off making decisions to change. We ask ourselves; when is the most optimum point in which we will succeed? Trying to give ourselves every chance. For drinking less it is true that it may be harder to stop drinking in the middle of a Holiday season in which office parties or family get togethers are happening so regularly. So, we look at this and put off.
So when is the right time and is a resolution the right place to start?
Of course if NYE is when you decide to make a change then of course go for it. But why limit yourself to then. Of course I have just restarted blogging again just at the start of 2017 myself. So why not. But this just happens to be when I have made the decision. And here is the important thing:
I have not made a resolution to start blogging!
My issue with making a resolution is this: Once a resolution has been broken that’s it. Its broken. If you make a resolution to not eat chocolate and 1 week later you binge yourself into a coco fuelled coma on the sofa at night, then the resolution is broken. Its at this point many people give up and go back to the old way of doing things.
Instead, I believe, we should reframe our language, thinking and therefore behaviour by looking to building new habits. A habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up but importantly it is something that we work towards. This is a new way of thinking or behaving that changes us over time.
Importantly I also believe that psychologically we give ourselves more permission to fail than we do when we set a resolution. A habit takes time to imbed in our daily routine and so when we fall back on old negative behaviour we have a goal in mind of where we want to be we have already said to ourselves that this is likely to happen and we can just pick up when we were before. A resolution, in contrast, sets us the goal of achieving the final goal, daily from day one. Therefore there is much more pressure that we place on ourselves from day one and therefore more likelihood that we will fail.
Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon in the 1950s when he began noticing a strange pattern among his patients.
When Dr. Maltz would perform an operation — like a nose job, for example — he found that it would take the patient about 21 days to get used to seeing their new face. Similarly, when a patient had an arm or a leg amputated, Maltz noticed that the patient would sense a phantom limb for about 21 days before adjusting to the new situation.
These experiences prompted Maltz to think about his own adjustment period to changes and new behaviours, and he noticed that it also took himself about 21 days to form a new habit. Maltz wrote about these experiences and said,
“These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”
So, it takes time. In the case shown above Dr Maltz’s patients would be living with the change 24/7. Writing a blog is perhaps 20 minutes a day! A big difference in time. So for me this year, I want to build new and lasting habits, which will take time. The first of which is regularly posting on here. That may be daily, and perhaps that is my ultimate goal, but I simply want to build a habit of writing. If i miss a day that’s ok, the next day I simply open the laptop and start writing.
But we can do that at any point in the year. Just start, doesn’t matter how good or how effective it is, just doing it is what is important. I know my writing will improve the more i will write, I will find it easier and will find a time of the day when I can be most productive. But for now I will write.
There are other habits that I want to build into my daily/weekly routine but I’m not going to put myself under too much pressure right now. But if I keep putting it off waiting for that right moment I could possibly be waiting forever.