It’s now late January. According to “the internet”, over 30% of people have already failed at their New Year’s Resolution. Well, I say let’s have a do-over since I haven’t even got around to making mine yet. Jonathan Clements has an excellent post called Committed where he outlines some strategies to help improve our chances of success. I’ve re-worked them below according to my own tastes. In my view, all of them involve making failure painful and/or inconvenient (really the same thing, just different levels and frequencies of pain).
- Tell everyone. Announce your resolution on Facebook, Instagram, or other widespread manner. Somebody (frenemy?) will likely follow-up. You’ll want to avoid the mild shame from lots of people you know sorta well.
- Tell just one important person. Share your resolution and deadline with a person whose opinion you care about. You’ll want to avoid that acute shame from a close friend or relative.
- Tell nobody, but bet money on it. You could set up a bet with a friend, or use a website like DietBet. You’ll want to avoid the financial pain from losing money.
- Put hurdles between you and bad habits. Want to spend less? Use cash for everything. Institute a cooling-off period of 1 week for every $100 of cost. Cut up or freeze your credit cards in ice. Cancel any “bad” subscriptions, and make yourself pay for it manually each month. (Try the Trim service if you need some help canceling things.) Remove junk food from the house, so you’ll have to go out and buy it. Make it a hassle.
- Make it automatic. Make “good” subscriptions. Set up (or increase) an automatic paycheck withdrawal for 401(k) and/or IRA retirement accounts. Set up an automatic transfer to your savings account. Sign up for a service like Digit. After the initial setup, the lazy thing is now the good thing.
You might use one, or you might use all of them, depending on your specific goal.
Photo credit: Angus and Phil comic by Annie Taylor-Lebel.