20 Oct Why Autumn Is the Perfect Time to Double Down on Your New Year’s Resolution (or Resurrect It)
Well, look who just remembered that they made a New Year’s Resolution? No, actually, we don’t mean just you specifically. By who, we mean basically everyone because that’s how many people forgot their resolutions this year. However, there is a bit of a mulligan this year, and it’s the same mulligan we all got last year. Can you guess what it is? Time’s up. It’s the fact that we’re still in a global pandemic. So, you know, we’ve had other concerns.
But now is not the time to wallow in the vile waters of misery and self-pity (we’ve done enough of that, thanks)! Instead, now is the time for action and commitment to do things and make things happen to feel like something is moving forward, for Pete’s sake.
Or perhaps you’ve already thrown in the towel, decided that there isn’t enough time left in the year, or you’ve fallen prey to the belief that you just can’t for whatever reason. If so, stick with us at least until we finish the first section, won’t you? We’ve still got about a hundred or so days left to the year: Let’s make them count.
So how do we go about putting the gloves back on, as it were?
Look Backward to Go Forward
Honest, genuine question: Why did you pick the resolution that you selected all those months ago?
Seriously, come up with an answer to that before reading the rest of this. We’ll wait.
Okay, great! Now you’re ready for step two.
No, again, seriously. That wasn’t just philosophical waffling. That was practical progress. We, humans, tend to be purpose-driven. Science shows that we have intrinsic motivators and extrinsic motivators. Intrinsic motivators are motivations driven from the heart. It would include motivations like “I want to beat this game because it’s fun” or “I want to wash this car because it calms me.” Extrinsic motivators come from the outside, such as monetary needs, peer pressure, etc. Science also shows that intrinsic motivators, on average, are more powerful and are more likely to push a person to get a task done and feel more satisfied in doing it.
Now let’s say that you tried to think of an answer but really couldn’t find one good enough – or it took you longer than you’d expect. It might mean that the resolution you picked wasn’t exactly the best one or the one that would make an impact on your life. If that’s the case, then it’s high time you got a new one. As we said, the purpose is a strong element in this equation, and honestly, if it doesn’t even matter to you all that much, why bother doing it?
Okay, so we’ve got our purpose. What do we do with it?
Use Your Constraints
Do you work well under pressure? Or are you driven by procrastination-fuelled panic to complete everything at the last minute? Time pressure has the ability to kick us into high gear. Sure, it’s an extrinsic motivator, and it’s not as powerful as an intrinsic motivator, but it still has the power to push you.
Time also works as a leveraging factor. For example, let’s say your internal motivation is that you want to be healthier because you’ve got kids, and you need to have more energy. Deciding to live healthier now because the kids will run you ragged come spring if you don’t adds a time-locked deadline to your internal motivation.
Constraints like time are often beneficial! If you’re an artist or any creative type, you understand the dread of the blank canvas. That’s when you are faced with an infinite world of possibility, which is exactly the problem because you don’t know where to even begin. Having constraints, limitations, or rules puts things into useful perspective. For example, now, instead of “I have to complete my resolution,” we change that to “I have to complete my resolution in four months.” And that caveat alone tends to get the ideas flowing.
You can even give yourself constraints! For example, “I have to complete my resolution in four months” might be good, but you know what would make this even more tangible and even more prominent in our minds? “I have to complete three tasks to fulfill my resolution, and each task has to be completed within a month.”
Don’t be afraid to get specific. Dig deep to understand the problem you’re trying to solve here. Understand the constraints you’re under, and work with them to develop a plan.
The Game Plan
We are in it to win it now. At this point, you’re at least determined enough to do this that you kept reading this article. Now what?
You don’t have to be a master strategist to work out a game plan. Just take every constraint you’ve acknowledged, and treat them like questions that need answers. “How do you get this done within four months?”, “How do you get the money to do this?”, “What else do I need to make this happen?” It’s important not to see constraints as reasons to give up but as guidelines.
Once you have an answer to these questions, you more or less have a functional game plan. Follow through on those answers. Write them down, perhaps as a bullet list, and mark each one as you complete them. Before you know it, you’ve resolved your resolution.
It’s going to be a bit difficult to fulfill any desires or dreams if you don’t fundamentally believe that you’re capable of doing so. Again, not philosophizing. That’s just science. So make sure to take some time between tasks to be your own cheerleader, as it were, or perhaps even have a loved one perform the role. You’ll be surprised how much it helps. So, whether your goal is to enrich your life by reading more or live a healthier life through diet, exercise and healthy organic supplements, you need to believe your goals are achievable.