January 1st. The first day of the new year. Normally a cool, snowy (or icy) day where I live. And also, the day when people traditionally plan out or begin to implement their New Year’s resolutions.
My Thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions Link to heading
I have an interesting relationship with New Year’s resolutions. I vaguely recall that, during my childhood, I somewhat embraced the idea of setting goals for myself: things that I would quit doing, start doing, improve, etc over the course of the next year. However, try as I might, rarely did a resolution stick. I would perhaps start out strong, but slowly, over the next few weeks and months, I would eventually give up, and settle back into my normal routine.
As I moved into my teens and early twenties, my outlook on resolutions changed. I began to view New Year’s resolutions a cultural norm that, while good-intentioned, ultimately failed to achieve anything worthwhile. I saw too many people excitedly planning out New Year’s resolutions, only to fail time and time again. My axiom became “Why make resolutions at a specific time every year? If you want to make a change, just do it. It doesn’t matter what the day is.” And in general, that worked well for me for many years.
But, as I continue to grow older, my opinions continue to grow along with me. While I still whole-heartedly believe that an individual shouldn’t only attempt to make life-changing improvements on January 1st, I’ve found that there is definitely something to creating a habit on the first of the year, with the planned goal to keep at it for a full 365 days. At least for myself, designing achievable goals that I begin working towards at the beginning of the year actually works.
Along with my opinions on resolutions, over time I’ve also changed my views on how to design said New Year’s resolutions. Historically I had always viewed resolutions as intentionally ambitious goals that I was setting for myself. And don’t get me wrong, those are still sometimes a good idea. But what often has been working better for me is to define a specific behavior I want to change, and then break it down into a daily habit. You see, I can achieve a daily habit. I’m a completionist. I will try to finish everything on my daily to-do list. Therefore, if I can break things down into manageable daily tasks, I can almost always make progress.
My 2021 Resolutions Link to heading
So, what do my resolutions (or goals, as I refer to them) look like this year? My focus for 2021 is largely on fixing up some habits that I’ve let slip over the course of the past year, and also beginning to work on some problem areas that I’ve been ignoring for far too long. I do have a few more ambitious goals as well, though I will hold off discussing them for the time being, until I have a more concrete plan in place.
My first goal is building on a habit that I initially focused on heavily last year. I’ve always attempted to have a devotional time in the morning, followed by general reading time. For years I’ve said that I want to focus on my walk with Christ, and in 2020 I finally began pushing myself on that front. I maintained a devotional time throughout the entirety of last year, and this year I intend to continue that, though I’m switching up the format slightly. Unfortunately, my general reading time post-devotional suffered in the later half of 2020 though, so for 2021 I’m refocusing on reading at minimum 1 chapter a morning of whatever book I’m currently working on. I place a high value on continuing to expand my knowledge on a variety of topics, and spending thoughtful time reading daily seems like an appropriate way to make progress on that goal.
My second main goal is to exercise for at least 30 minutes daily throughout all of 2021. Once again, I started out fairly strong in 2020 with morning workouts, but shifting to working at home caused me to become lax in some of my routines. I’m still building out a plan of exactly what the morning routine will look like, but 30 minutes a day (minimum) seems to me to be a good target. It’s short enough that I should be able to keep myself engaged, but long enough that I can always get at least some movement in, and continue to improve my fitness level.
My final major goal will actually be the hardest, I think. I’ve attempted for the past few years to build a daily or weekly writing habit, and time after time that’s failed. So, for 2021, my goal is to write a single, quality blog post per week. That’s a rate that is slow enough I can spend a good amount of time working on the content, but fast enough that I have to keep at it. And to top it off, writing makes me think and process things in new ways, which is another growth opportunity.
Will I accomplish all of my goals for 2021? With the Lord’s help, yes. But even if I don’t, so long as I don’t stagnate, the effort to constantly improve myself will have been well worth it.