I always get a little sad as January comes to an end. There is something in me that loves a new beginning. So I start the year anticipating doing new things, accomplishing new goals, making changes.
And then at the end of the month, I come to the sad realization that I have made few, if any, steps towards the new me that seemed so possible on January 1.
Of course, I’m not the only one. The gyms return to normal numbers. Folks who decided bringing their lunch would allow them to pay off thousands of dollars of credit card debt are conveniently forgetting to pack those lunches and are heading to restaurants. And some of my dieting friends are buying candy again.
I think there are several lessons here:
- We need to know ourselves and not make resolutions and goals that we know in our heart of hearts we simply won’t keep.
- We need to be aware of competing goals. Sure, we might save a bunch of money by bringing our lunch. But what if the socializing in eating with friends makes us happy on a daily basis? That’s not saying we shouldn’t save money, but we should realize that maybe this is not the way to do it. Maybe all your colleagues could bring their lunches on certain days and eat together. Or go out to eat at lunch and cut some other expense.
- If we still really want to change, we need to realize that we don’t have to wait until January 1. We can declare any day a new beginning. But for those of us who need something more official, a new month is right around the corner.
According to Carmine Gallo, in an inc.com article, Nick Saban gave his Alabama team a break after they won the 2018 national championship in football. He gave them 24 hours to celebrate before they were to get back to work. Saban says, “Move on because there’s another challenge.”
I like that idea and not just because I’m a Bama graduate. There is a fine line between celebrating a victory and resting on your laurels. And having a set time frame before getting back to work and setting a new goal helps you not to let a victory make you lazy.
As usual, I am a cautionary tale. After finishing my doctorate, I decided I deserved a break: read mystery novels, watch bad television, pass on hard projects that came my way. I gave myself a vacation. It wasn’t until months (maybe years) later that I realized my vacation had become a lifestyle. And it has been a struggle to get myself back in intellectual fighting shape even as I mourn the wasted time.
So even if you are an Auburn fan, give Saban’s advice some thought.
Let me admit that I’m not always as supportive of other people’s resolutions as I should be. Mainly people who resolve to go the gym (MY GYM). For the first few weeks of each year, I have to deal with the newbies who:
- walk in groups on the track, making it impossible for the rest of us to get around them,
- check their phones constantly (perhaps to see how long they still have to exercise) so that they wobble from one lane to another, and
- take up all the good parking places AND the lockers AND the coat hangers.
As much as I tell myself that I should support their goals, I find myself instead wanting to knock them over as they block my way around the track. (Which probably tells you what my resolution should be each year.)
Still, sadly, most of these folks will be gone by February, the track will be manageable again, and there will be places to park.
It is easy to come up with resolutions. It is even sometimes easy to find motivation for the first couple of weeks of the year. Then life seems to get in the way.
So if you have resolutions, good for you! Get started. But also put into place a plan that will keep you going once the newness of the year wears off.
By the way, here are mine:
- Get 100 rejections from literary journals. (It is not hard to get the rejection. But never sending anything doesn’t count.)
- Revive a couple of social activities that I let die a few years ago.
Happy New Year!