Mid-February has arrived like a thief in the night. To think back about New Year’s resolutions, not to mention executing them, now feels almost ridiculous. How many gyms that were full during the initial weeks of January are now almost empty, how many sweet strikes have failed and how many times the beautiful thought of doing school work before having fun has been blissfully forgotten? As the year changed many were full of excitement and energy – full of promises about how they were going to make their lives better. Now many people feel embarrassed or they laugh out loud when these resolutions are mentioned around the coffee table.
Just a while ago I was having lunch with my friend and we were talking about random things. The conversation moved on to talking about New Year’s resolutions. Instead of feeling sorry for breaking the promises we had made, we started talking about making monthly resolutions. My friend said that she would start saving money from the beginning of February. In March, she would be selling or recycling the clothes she was barely using. In April, she might allow herself to spend money more freely. Inspired by her I decided to start making new month’s resolutions as well. Since February is nearing its end soon, I thought that March would be the perfect time to start. If I promise myself that in March I will go walking more often compared to now, I don’t have to feel miserable about ruining the resolution for the whole year if I fail. On the other hand, if I succeed I can make the same resolution in the beginning of April! However, if even a month feels like too long a period, one can give themself promises in the beginning of each week or even every day.
As much as it sounds like a worn-out cliché: small streams make a large river. This goes with promises too. I personally don’t believe that one can change their life just with the ‘energy’ that they get from buying a new calendar and marking a new date on forms after January 1st. Although the idea of new year being the perfect time for renewing oneself and giving things a fresh start is understandable, January 1st is no better day for making resolutions than any other day. If one truly wishes to change their life, they should not dream of changing it completely at once. When one takes a little thing at a time and aims to change that little thing they can concentrate all their energy into changing that one thing instead of everything. I consider concentrating energy on changing too many things at the same time the cardinal mistake of New Year’s resolutions.
Let it be known here that I am not too big of a fan of promises one gives to themself. For many years, I thought New Year’s resolutions were worth nothing since experience had taught me that they would always be broken. But by far I have gone out for a walk more often and eaten more healthy food this year than before. And I didn’t even promise myself to do so but instead I’ve encouraged myself to try and choose healthier options whenever given the chance. To me resolutions feel always temporary because who can honestly promise themselves that they are going to eat healthily and spend money wisely all the time. Too harsh promises are the ones that are usually broken first. So, if making resolutions turns things into temporary obligations maybe this pattern should be turned the other way round and start talking about New Year’s challenges?
It is more acceptable to fail at challenges than to break promises. Promises shouldn’t be broken but one can fail at a challenge due to various reasons. That’s why I recommend that you stop making yourself promises that you think and you know are going to be broken. Give yourself a challenge – and if you succeed, reward yourself. If you fail, try again since you can keep challenging yourself as long as you want.
My challenge for March is that I will spend my money more wisely. My second challenge is to keep on going on walks and choosing healthier options in my diet. But since March 1st is no better day for making promises than January 1st or any other day for that matter, I will start the challenge today. First I will empty the bowl of sweets I have on my table since not all challenges are to be faced with the taste of blood in your mouth.