According to the folks at Foursquare, today is Fall Off the Wagon Day – the day most people bail on their New Year’s Resolutions to exercise, eat more healthfully, and so on. This is consistent with my observations – attendance at my fitness boot camp goes up in January, and drops back to normal in February.
Why is it so hard to stay on course? Because a year is a freakin’ long time! It’s hard enough to make it through ONE day feeling hungry without also imagining that you’re going to feel like this for a whole YEAR!
I had an epiphany after reading Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project. While I’ve already pontificated about the dubiousness of happiness as a goal, her approach of setting one new behavior change objective per month really resonated with me. A month feels DO-able in a way that a whole year does not.
For several years now, I’ve participated in the Art Every Day Month challenge. I’m able to keep up with making one art piece per day for thirty days; I fail so miserably at the Creative Every Day yearly challenge that I don’t even try anymore.
After the November 2016 Art Every Day Month, I decided to instigate a new challenge for myself each month, based on the things I already know make me feel healthier, stronger, happier.
- I engaged in a total Facebook fast for the month of December 2016. (Reading Facebook is just too much of a time suck, plus it fuels too much negativity.)
- January 2017’s theme was “Puzzles and alcohol are weekend activities.” (I have a severe jones for Killer Sudoku; drinking with dinner just makes me too fuzzy to be productive in the evening. Reserving these for the weekend makes me more productive during the week PLUS I don’t feel guilty when I do indulge.)
- For February, I am eliminating The Four Cs: Coffee, cookies, chips, and crackers. (The cost-benefit ratio of going out for coffee just doesn’t work for me; the other three are trigger foods which I am incapable of eating moderately. See Gretchen on Moderators vs. Abstainers.)
Each month I get the satisfaction of having been successful. By the time I embark on a new challenge, the previous one has been fairly well integrated into my daily life.
How might this strategy work for YOU?