The rest of November and December, which encompass a morass of religious ceremonies, rampant consumerism, and insane eating, often feel like a wash. New Year’s Eve is a shining beacon, the time when we’ll reset all our filthy habits — so, why bother now? Because setting a pre-resolution-resolution can still turn some aspect of your life around.
A few years ago, I started setting goals for myself around Thanksgiving leading up to the New Year. At first, I was simply tired of sliding into the EOY decline marked by too much drinking, too much eating, and promises that I’d be at the gym on January first (or the second, at the latest). Creatively, I’d also come to a halt. Everyone’s too busy! New projects can’t start around the holidays. Why bother? It’s a depressing headspace to live in for a huge chunk of the year, but we all tend to do it. Here’s why you should stop.
Six Weeks Is A Long Time
If you diligently commit to something for six weeks, you will get better at it. A habit can be developed and have an effect in that amount of time. Learn the basics of an instrument, write a chapter of a book, start running in the mornings — whatever it is, if you start on Black Friday and keep up with it until New Year’s Day, you will see some significant improvement.
It Can Be Something Small
The holiday fog is about to take over, so if you decide to set a goal right now, even a small one will be better than the usual slump. Maybe you want to journal every day, read two books, volunteer. Do something new that you’ve been putting off. See what you can do right now, instead of waiting for the symbolic reset. A successful small step often inspires us towards bigger things.
It’s A Warm Up
The bigger thing is, in fact, the new year. Yes, New Years resolutions are corny and often abandoned before the ground thaws. However, they’re still ubiquitous for a reason: we want to believe we can change. We deserve to believe we can change for the better, and giving yourself a boost with a warm up resolution will help you with that belief. That might mean you embrace your big 2019 goals more optimistically and make more headway. You did a lot in six weeks; what can you do in a whole year?
You don’t even have to tell anyone about your pre-resolution! It’s true that sometimes announcing my intentions helps me fulfil them. Few people care what you’re doing to improve yourself or your life, but there’s an accountability to being public with your efforts. At the very least, you’re a bit embarrassed when things fall through. That’s part of why there’s so much pressure to talk about resolutions in the first place.
However, some of us don’t do amazing under pressure. Nobody will even think to ask you what your end of the year resolution is, so there’s no reason to talk about it unless you want to. It’s a private enterprise, which might end up feeling good. Or not, in which case you can crow from the rooftops about your intentions for next year.
It Just Feels Better
The end of the year is hard. You reflect on what’s happened, to you and to the world. The world is really rough right now. It can be satisfying to picture 2018 as being already in the trash, where it belongs, but time is rather meaningless, actually. Throwing almost one sixth of the year away is just tossing your own life and the potential its still offering you.
Let yourself think of what good you can still do with this time, instead of falling into a hole you’ll have to dig yourself out of in January. Unlike most resolutions, which imply an improvement with no end date, you only have to do whatever it is for a month and a half. That’s both not that long and all the time in the world.