Why my resolutions never start on January 1st
I’m an all-or-nothing person by nature. I rarely dabble. If I take an interest in something new, by week’s end I’ll be boring everyone I know with my newly acquired encyclopedic knowledge of the topic. It’s a trait that has gotten in my way more than once when making life changes.
The trouble is, I know what I’m supposed to do. Whether it’s nutrition, sleep, exercise, organization, or insert healthy life habit here, I’ve read the articles. All of them (see boring encyclopedic knowledge comment above). So in the past, when I’ve set out to make changes at the start of the new year, I’ve gone all in. I would decide to make ALL the changes. Effective immediately. I will walk 10k steps a day! And eat three Mediterranean diet meals! And only buy organic! And make all my closets Instagram worthy! On January 1!
The year I started publishing, I wrote 5 books. The final one, Holme for the Holidays, was supposed to be ready to release on December 1. The week before Thanksgiving, I caught what I thought was a cold, which ended up being the flu, which turned into pneumonia. I was sick for weeks. The book did get released, but not until Christmas Eve. After that, I was barely functional until mid-January.
But here’s the funny thing. Every year prior, I had sworn on January 1 that this was the year I would lose weight, exercise more, etc. And every year by mid-January, I’d already given up because I tried to do all the things at once and couldn’t keep it up. But in 2017 when I went to the doctor for a follow up to the pneumonia, I’d lost 10 lbs! I mean, of course I had. I’d been sick for almost two months and had barely eaten (not recommended). But still! In a weird way, I felt motivated.
After that, I slowly introduced better habits. I refilled the empty fridge with healthier options, but nothing that was too tiring to make because I was still exhausted. I started walking more, but only what I could manage. And I actually saw results. Who knew that slow and steady was better than an all-or-nothing race right out of the gate?
Okay, I guess Aesop, now that I think about it. That whole tortoise and the hare thing. Apparently, it’s taken me nearly five decades to understand the lesson.
The point is, on January 1, I wake up groggy after a poor night’s sleep and staying up too late. There’s still half a bottle of champagne in the fridge, and a shocking amount of ham, cheese, and left-over appetizers. And don’t get me started on the Christmas candy. My tree will still be up for at least another week, and I’ll be lucky if I can fit all the recycling in the bin, let alone clean a whole closet. So instead of running full speed on January 1, I like to take the first couple weeks of the year to think and plan.
Next Monday, January will be half over. By then, I will have worn my Fitbit every day even if I haven’t hit 10k steps a single time. I’ll have written a daily schedule each morning, even if I have to carry half of it over to the next day. There will be no fancy cheese in my fridge. Slow and steady. I’ve got 353 days left in 2023 and there’s no need to wear myself out.