I am, to be clear, a believer in the power of putting arbitrary constraints on yourself in order to achieve something. It's why I make to-do lists (and write "make to-do list" at the top of the list, for an immediate hit of accomplishment), why I demand a deadline even when writing an evergreen story, and why I agree self-improvement doesn't just manifest itself out of thin air without a little bit of nudge from an app or a calendar or some sort of Black Mirror drone with axes for fingers that literally chases you out of bed to start your morning run.
I am also, however, a complete sceptic of schemes that are doomed to fail: The friend who keeps getting back with that boyfriend they have already broken up with six times before, gimmick diets that don't involve eating vegetables, seeing any more of the Alien sequels.
I am an avowed hater of New Year's resolutions for that reason: They are all doomed to fail and everyone knows it.
This is in part because many of them are trendy, faux-wellness commitments people jump on board with because everyone is already doing it, and then give up on two weeks later when everyone else is giving up as well. But my anti-resolution stance also has to do with the timing. January is nature's perfect resolution-killing machine.
Let's say you had resolved just four days into the new year to go to the gym more, eat better and quit drinking for a month (the trend whose name is too monstrous of a portmanteau for me to even acknowledge here). The heat of summer would have killed all momentum or willpower in less than a week.
January is the month for getting your house in order, and no aspect of one's life gets quite so revamped as the culinary. Meal planning is often seen as the key to it all, but the plan won't accomplish anything if it's not implemented.
So consider this: If you still prefer the resolution model of self-improvement, in which you adhere to specific challenges that begin on a specific date, don't start those resolutions in January. Start them in April instead.
Why April specifically? March drops a teaser trailer for winter ahead but it's also a torrent of a month, full of some of the best weather of the year. But April, friends, April is when the world turns around and the cobwebs clear. It's time to shape up and step outside without bursting into flame. Nature comes back to life and so do you.
April is the perfect month to squeeze into some running tights (thanks to the residual warm days from summer mixed with a cooler wind of autumn we get the best kind of days), dust off your bike and get moving again. And in the unlikely event that the gym is still full of January's resolution-havers, too, you can also go running outdoors again.
And if you wish to quit drinking for a month or quit smoking forever, April is the time to do it because there is simply much more to do once the world comes back to life. Instead of drinking, perhaps you join an indoor soccer team, or become one of those people obsessed with photographing the ducks at the park, or just go for long walks and take that kind of deep inhale to let that cool air fill your lungs as you recall the summer misery behind you.
In April, let's get to work.