The Secret To Making Your New Year's Resolutions Stick: Start Early

by Paul Hudson

Human beings are lazy creatures who love to procrastinate. Procrastination is our favorite form of self-indulgence. We postpone important tasks until a later time because we feel that we should allow ourselves to remain comfortable in the present. These tasks tend to be tasks that, although they cannot be avoided, can be left to a later date.

The problem with procrastinating is that just as the due date doesn’t change, neither does our eagerness to complete the task. Thankfully, we aren’t complete idiots and understand that when something does need to get done, it actually needs to get done. So, we buckle down and force ourselves to cram in all necessary action right before meeting the finish line.

The issue of procrastination makes itself evident when we postpone tasks that don’t have set-in-stone due dates, such as our New Year’s resolutions.

Without A Need, There Is Rarely A Will

New Year’s resolutions are the worst for a couple of reasons. The first reason being that we never resolve to do the things that need to be done, but rather, those that we believe should be done. When it comes to resolutions, there are no deadlines. We are attempting to create a change for the sake of the change itself. Because we do not feel that we must stick to our resolutions, we tend to fall back on our old ways whenever we feel overcome by discomfort.

Our Resolutions Come With A Ridiculous Start Date

If there were ever a worse time to take on a new habit requiring productivity or focus, it’s on New Year’s Day -- the morning after New Year’s Eve. Unless you’re in your 60s or older, you’re going to be partying it up on NYE. You’re going to be drinking, possibly doing drugs, dancing, yelling, meeting random people and maybe even taking home one of those people, only to regret it the next morning.

Regardless, whatever it is that you are doing on New Year’s Eve, even if it’s only staying up late and not getting enough sleep, the following morning is not a good time to initiate a change in your life. You will be, at the very least, sleep deprived. And you're likely to also be hungover or still feeling the effects of whatever it was you took the night before. If you think you can wake up feeling like Satan just ravaged your body and stick to your resolution, you’re delusional.

If You Want To Change Any Aspect Of Your Life, Start When You’re Still Sober

The trick to keeping your New Year’s resolution is to start several weeks early: at least two weeks prior to the festivities. Any sort of change you are trying to incite is going to be difficult because the change is going argue against the habits you have already grown accustomed to. We are creatures of habit; if you want to break old habits, you’re going to have to substitute them with new ones. Forcing newer, healthier habits into your life isn’t impossible, but it is difficult. Don’t wait until you have a splitting headache to try and focus on your new life; start focusing on your resolution right now. Get a head start on your new year by creating a new you now.

Focusing on your New Year’s resolutions and putting them into effect preemptively will allow for a much smoother transition. Give yourself time to adjust to the changes you wish to create when you aren’t caught up in the moment -- when you have the concentration to muffle all the extra noise surrounding you. Start your New Year’s resolution during the old year and you won’t have as much difficulty sticking to it once the clock hits midnight. Set yourself up with an early start date and an end date.

The point of your resolution isn’t to spend the entirety of the next year putting in the effort to keep your resolution. The New Year isn’t the year to change -- it’s the year to be changed. Don’t wait to begin changing and then spend the remainder of the New Year "trying" to change. Adopt your resolution now and set a date for the completion of your transition -- no more than six months.

This will allow you to remain focused and refrain from losing your way. By summertime, you won’t have to be worried about changing because you will have already gone through the whole process of altering your habits. The best part? You’ll have the remainder of the year to simply live and enjoy the new you!