Monday, January 30, 2017

Never on the "1st" Date

Many people make New Year's resolutions in January that they usually can't stick with for very long.  In fact, most people drop their resolutions after just one, two or three weeks.  After a full month, most resolutions are all but forgotten.

A resolution to lose weight?  How can you possibly start a new diet with a refrigerator full of holiday foods staring you in the face?  Or all that eggnog you barely had a chance to enjoy during the holidays?  You could throw it all away, but you know that throwing out perfectly good food will make you feel guilty, too.

Guilt is not a good way to begin a New Year, either.

You could freeze it all, but there's not enough plastic wrap, containers, or room in the freezer either, is there?  Besides, that sounds like a lot of trouble to go through, when a few leftover sliders or pigs-in-blanket surely couldn't hurt much, could they?

The truth is, you want to eat it all.  Who doesn't like party food?  It's what we live for, and the entire month of December was one big party full of the best edibles ever!  So how can we look at a fridge full of our favorite leftovers and not eat them?

A resolution to exercise more?  It's hard to go from zero to sixty.  Momentum has to build before we can get there.  So, unless you were dancing every night away during the holidays, ice skating, skiing or enjoying other winter activities, don't expect your body to be ready for a workout on January 1st.

Quitting smoking?  The first day of the year, after a night of drinking champagne and partying until the wee hours may very well be the worst morning ever to try to give up having a cigarette with that very much-needed cup of coffee.  You'll think about quitting on January 2nd, maybe ... or 3rd ... or 4th ...

Giving up drinking?  A little "hair of the dog" will go a long way for that New Year's Eve hangover.  Not today, good intentions ... not today.

So, when should you start your New Year's resolutions?  Whenever you're ready.  Don't let the calendar set the date.  Tony Robbins famously said that you can change anything in your life in an instant.  The moment you truly decide to change something, it is done.  So don't let an arbitrary date be in charge of your decisions.  Put the odds in your favor by selecting the date that makes the most sense for you.

Eleven years ago, I made a very big New Year's resolution.  It was something that I had failed at many times before, but I was very motivated to make it happen this time around.  However, it had been such a huge part of my life, that I kept putting it off ... putting it off ... putting it off.  I really wanted to make this change, but at the same time I was enjoying it so much, that I kept delaying the start date.  But I had promised myself that I would do so that January of that particular new year.  I was definitely not going to do it on the 1st, but I would absolutely make it happen in January.

I knew I was committed, but I was also being very lenient with myself.  Some people might say I was procrastinating and delaying.  Absolutely true.  But there are also times when you just need to be compassionate with yourself.  I was treating myself kindly and gently before making such a drastic change.  Sometimes a little tenderness is called for, too.

Finally the morning of January 31st rolled around.  Suddenly I was out of luck and out of time!  It was do-or-die day!  It was time to stop being lenient and start being strict with myself.  I had pushed it until the last possible day, but I woke up that morning more determined than ever.  All of the compassion I had for myself was used up.  My determination was solid, my commitment strong.  I implemented the big change in my life that very day.

Eleven years later, that resolution has held up to the test of time.  I did it.  It was the most successful resolution I have probably ever made in my life.  And it didn't happen until January 31st.

Am I okay with that?  Absolutely.  I can be generous enough to give myself an entire month to get used to the idea of one of the biggest resolutions I will ever make.  I can give myself the time my mind needs to wrap itself around a commitment with determination.  I can give myself a month, or two, or three, to lay the foundation for success.  A resolution can be put into place at any time, on any day, in any month, of any year.

If 2017 is the year you are finally going to do something you've always wanted to do, then make your preparations.  Lay your groundwork.  Put all of your plans in place, talk yourself into a strong, mental place ... and then go for it!

Your most successful days can still be ahead.  A change can be made in an instant ... choose your own timing.

There are some things I would just never do on the (January) 1st date!

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