I know it’s early for New Year resolutions, but if you want to do what you resolve to do, you better start now so it’ll become a habit by December 31. If it’s not a habit by then, well your chances of sticking with your resolutions will be about as good as they were last year and the year before, going all the way back to your first New Year resolutions and then breaking it by Valentine’s Day, if not sooner.
If you really want change, and we all do, then you need to start doing what you resolve to do today (or the first chance you get) and continue to do it for the rest of October, November and December. By then, or after 21 consecutive days some experts say, it will become a habit . . . . Habits are good, of course, so long as they are habits of doing what you want to do or what you know is right for you to achieve your goals, whether those goals are for your fitness and health, your relationships, your career, or your finances.
Most of us, at times, have unwittingly fallen into bad habits, doing those activities that undermine your success, your health, and even your relationships, both professional and personal. You know what they are. If you don’t, just ask yourself how is your health? How are your relationships? Are you doing the things you know you should be doing (and with those you love) or are you letting things slide, or worse, doing the exact opposite, engaging in risky, unhealthy activities with others (getting drunk, getting into trouble, having affairs) or even on your own like smoking, drinking, overeating, or spending all of your free time on the Internet.
Then there are habits of not doing; habits that you’ve fallen out of or gotten into the habit of no longer doing on a regular basis, which can happen after an injury, a separation, or your first child, or changing jobs or taking on new responsibilities at work or at home (taking care of an invalid or an elderly relative). Or you just haven’t found a new fitness center after moving to a new place. After a while, what you no longer do is your new habit of not doing, like no longer reading to your children at night (or reading period), or no longer spending time with your family other than watching TV or meals.
What is the road to hell paved with? Good intentions. We all have good intentions, but . . . well; what follows next after that ‘but’ is the problem! We talk ourselves into changing our bad habits to good habits, but then we talk ourselves out of actually doing those things we know we should be doing. Someone once said, “Argue for your limitations and they’re yours!” If you keep telling yourself you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not fit enough, not pretty enough, not strong enough, not ______(fill in the blank), then you’ll forever own those limitations!
Earlier this year I challenged myself to run my first marathon, but in the weeks leading up to the race I began to give myself all kind of reasons why I should not run: my age, my knees, my lack of training, my concerns about potential injuries, and the fact that I hadn’t competed in a race in thirty years (a 5K fun run)! That wasn’t helping me, so I focused on my goal of completing the marathon and started making lists of what I needed to get done before the race, what I needed to wear/bring on the day of the race. Instead of arguing for my limitations, I challenged myself to complete that marathon, and I did!
What can you challenge yourself to do by next year? It may not be athletic, maybe you want a closer relationship with your spouse or children, or start your own business, or a second career as a writer or an artist, or lose some significant weight, or make better financial decisions for your retirement (it comes faster than you think!). What can you start putting into place right now? What new habit can you start working on today, this evening, tomorrow morning, or by this weekend? So by the time December 31st rolls around, you’re well on your way to achieving your goal.
It’s what you do right now that counts, not what you promise yourself you’ll start doing by the New Year. Promises (even with the best of intentions) are cheap, which is why they don’t work! Actions that turn into good habits are priceless. They will benefit and serve you for the rest of your life. They can also serve as a model for your family and your children, too. If one of your goals is to be healthy and fit and also spend more time with your spouse and children, think of the activities you can do together to achieve both goals, like hiking or biking or swimming.
So get started now and get a huge jump on everyone else waiting until December 31st to making their resolutions. And good luck!
–Borneo Expat Writer
*Here’s a fun, practical way to raise your self-esteem, list down 25-50 of your personal achievements (even if they mean nothing to anybody else except you!)
**Leap For Success
***Start Your day by asking questions
Here are links to four of my author to author interviews of first novelists:
Ivy Ngeow author of Cry of the Flying Rhino, winner of the 2016 Proverse Prize.
Golda Mowe author of Iban Dream and Iban Journey.
Preeta Samarasan author of Evening is the Whole Day.
Chuah Guat Eng, author of Echoes of Silence and Days of Change.
Five part Maugham and Me series
Beheaded on Road to Nationhood: Sarawak Reclaimed—Part I