Isn’t it strange the way we wait until January 1 to make resolutions for the new year? I suppose it makes sense to try losing weight after the holidays are over, because nobody wants to diet in the midst of a long string of Christmas parties.
But the problem with saving our big life decisions for one time of year is we put too much pressure on ourselves all at once. It also encourages bad behaviour just before the new resolution comes into effect, which can make change even more difficult. It’s one thing to decide to exercise thirty minutes per day starting January 1, but if you haven’t exercised at all since November, that means you’re really going to struggle. And the greater the initial struggle, the harder it’s going to be to keep it up in the long term.
Maybe that’s part of why so few New Year’s resolutions make any lasting impression.
Here’s the thing. New Year’s Day is truly a random day on the calendar. The only reason it’s special is because we’ve collectively decided it is. But, it’s not, not really. There’s no reason you can’t make a big change on any other day of the year. It could happen in the middle of March or the third week of September. And a change doesn’t have to start on a Sunday, or a Monday. You can shift gears on Wednesdays and Thursdays just as well.
A few years ago, I made the decision to get more exercise, but I only thought of it near the end of October. If I had waited until January, I probably would have lost all my enthusiasm. Instead, I just started the next day. Although my resolve did eventually peter out, I kept it up for three solid years. And I know that any ol’ day is a perfect day to get back on the wagon. I’m thinking ‘tomorrow’ has a really good ring to it.
This has big implications for my writing life, too. I sometimes go through long dry spells when I’m not feeling particularly inspired or creative, and finally I lose patience with myself and decide to just start. The key word there is decide. There’s no better occasion than right now.You don’t have to wait for a special occasion.
By all means, make the decision to start writing more. Make a New Year’s resolution out of it if you want—there’s no harm in it. But if you lose steam by February, don’t worry. You can always decide to recommit yourself to your goal.
Don’t let the arbitrary benchmarks on your calendar psych you out!
Evan Braun is a full-time author and editor. He has authored three novels, the first of which, The Book of Creation, was shortlisted in two categories at the 2012 Word Awards. He has released two sequels, The City of Darkness (2013) and The Law of Radiance (2015), completing the series. As a professional editor, Braun has seven years of experience working with Word Alive Press authors. He is also a regular contributor at The Fictorians, a popular writing blog.