New Year, Old Habits

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Every New Years’ eve we hear the same question over and over. “What is your New Year’s resolution?” Mine is always the same. I don’t make any.

No goal is going to be achieved by making a snap decision on a “random” day and expecting to stick with it because you told someone on the last day of one year or the first day of the next year.

Statistically, most New Years resolutions are broken by the end of January.

Use me as an example. I want to enrich myself personally and professionally. Not just within 2011, but continuously.

Let’s look at some typical “resolutions”

I want to be healthier and lose weight.
I took up running and I’ve established a goal of running a half-marathon in 2011. To accomplish that goal, I have to complete many hurdles. First, I have to start to like running on a regular basis. That took me about two months to get used to it. Then, not only do you have to like to run, but then you have to start running outside, and sharpening up, for speed and distance/endurance. You shouldn’t make that decision lightly or glibly. You should plan, prepare, and execute.

“I want to further my education”
I wanted to better myself professionally. My thought: Never stop learning. You could read hundreds of books or you could hire someone to coach you through everything or you could take classes. I went back to school. The process is not an easy one, I couldn’t have just walked onto campus and said, “I want to start taking classes” and then been in classes in the next day/week. It took me 3 months to get everything squared away, and it’ll take me two years to complete my degree; fortitude, that’s the ticket.

I want to manage my money better. (Or I want to put more money in savings)
Money, it's a crime (Used under Creative Commons Licensing: Thanks Kiki99!)
This one can be a little more difficult. In that we have to change our thinking and our habits. You have to look at the things you spend your money on and whether you “need” or NEED them. Things like Rent/Mortgage, utilities or debt obligations are fixed items. I started out by just making a rudimentary list of what I spent my money on, where it was going compared to what was coming in and each month, I made little spending changes to better organize where my financial position was. This all takes time and effort. Not a quick-fix change of your mind.

I’m not saying that the end of one year and the beginning of another isn’t a good time to make goals for the next year. The only thing I’m saying is don’t make them because you feel you have to, make them because you really want to be better or have better things. Being healthier, smarter or financially secure are never bad goals to have, but their easier to accomplish if you work at it.
These things have worked for me in 2010 which leaves me in a much stronger position to keep them going in 2011. Start now, but ensure that you’re going to keep going throughout the year. Take small bites, you won’t feel stuffed so fast.

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