Saturday, December 29, 2012

On New Years Resolutions

Here is just a quick note on New Year’s Resolutions ("nyr"). Some massive percentage of nyrs are broken by the end of January, so my basic advice is don't make any. Making yourself promises that you are almost certainly going to fail at is only going to make you feel guilty, which isn't helpful. I am generally against making promises that you know in advance you won’t be able to keep to, but that's a different story. 

There is a trick I learned a long time ago that is related to how I feel about nyrs. The trick is this: when you are faced with a binary choice that you are not sure about, flip a coin. But instead of doing what the coin decides you pay close attention to your reaction. Sometimes you do care whether you have eggs or pancakes, and it’s easier to tell in reaction to being told which to have. 

And in that theme I would encourage you to think about what kind of resolutions you are inclined to make and see if they shine a light on how you feel about where yourself and your life is heading.

Making one melodramatic (and probably drunken) promise to yourself almost certainly isn't going to get you to go to the gym twice a week. But thinking about what it is you really want out of going twice a week might tell you something about yourself. 

However, if you have goals, and you want to use the event of New Years to help, here is a tip from TED:


  1. I'm not sure I agree. Making resolutions are the way we begin to change ourselves. Trying and failing and trying again is the slow, painful road to success.

    Many people don't examine their lives or what they want out of them except but once a year. If the looming prospect of a New Year and the psychic slate wiped clean gets someone to make a promise to themselves -- even if they break that promise after a few weeks -- it's better than nothing.

    None of us is perfect, but if I pledge to go to the gym twice a week on January 1st, and I go twice a week for a month, it still means I've gone to the gym eight times, which is better than none at all.

    Never let "Best" be the enemy of "Good".

  2. I don't disagree here, I was just emphasizing a less talked about part of the dynamic. I can't endorse enough the idea of good > nothing.