Forget January -- where do you see yourself next December? Resolutions fizzle out, but a year-long plan for your hobby or habit can have a longer, sweeter payoff.
Photo by WOCinTech Chat.
Set Reminders for the Year
Let's say you want to keep in better touch with friends and family. Calls and texts and letters are great, but those are in-the-moment things. Do them, but in addition, set yourself up for year long success. Make a list of everybody's birthdays, and set calendar reminders to buy cards or make phone calls. Better yet, fill up a shoebox of birthday cards so each one is ready to go when its day arrives.
Congratulations, 2018 you: You are the Person Who Always Remembers Birthdays.
Schedule Your Season
Or let's say you have an eye on a fitness resolution. So you'll go to the gym all January... but then what? Long-term planning is a little tricky here, because you don't want to assume abilities or progress that you can't count on. But think of how sports teams structure their seasons: they will do different types of training at different times of the year.
Let's say you'd like to get back into running this year. A person who has nothing but a resolution would buy a gym membership and figure the thinking part is done. But not you! You're smarter. And you wonder if you might be ready to run a marathon.
Plan it out month by month:
- January through March: Go to the gym on the regular, say three times a week for strength training and some treadmill running. Use a structured program or work with a trainer to make sure you're setting yourself up well for the next phase.
- April and May: Head outdoors for an eight-week running program, like this one geared toward the 5km distance. Decide if you feel ready to start training for a fall marathon, or if you'd prefer to do the half.
- June through September: Train for your chosen race with a structured program.
- October: Run the marathon (or half), then spend the rest of the month goofing off.
- November and December: Explore your options. Maybe you're bored with running and it's time to switch sports. Or if you did the half marathon, consider if you'd like to do a full in the spring. It's OK to keep this a little fuzzy. Nobody gets anything done in December anyway.
Make 12 Smaller Resolutions
A year is a long time. Maybe monthly challenges are more your speed? In the spirit of the Lifehacker Money Challenge, you could choose 12 things you'd like to work on, and set reminders for yourself now. Maybe April is the month you commit to figuring out your perfect skin care routine and doing it consistently.
Come July, you'll write in your journal every day. In October, you'll spend all month crafting the very best handmade Halloween decorations.
You can also do the same project or resolution 12 times, and hit a metaphorical reset button at the beginning of each month. Once, looking forward to NaNoWriMo, I resolved to come up with a different story idea each month of the year. Some of them were hasty ideas jotted on a post-it on the 30th, but others I mulled over all month and had some idea of who the characters would be and what they would do.
By the time November rolled around, I had ten options to choose from. An easy tweak to this idea would be actually writing a short story each month.
Adapt this to your own hobby: maybe each month you'll paint a picture, or write a song, or practice a new skill. Very few of us have the attention span for a resolution that lasts all year, but something that restarts every month or changes with the seasons can help you stick with it. Give it a try and look forward to a feeling of accomplishment come December 2018.