Wrapping up 2018: Resolutions vs Routines


Wrap up

Happy New Year, friends!
I hope you all have a wonderful couple of days off to spend with the people you love.

2018 had been a challenging year for many – I’m no exception.  But I’m always full of optimism as we roll into a new year.

Fresh beginnings and new starts hold universal appeal.

In order to get the new start, let’s actively pursue closure for this year.  I find answering a couple of wrap up questions really put what we’ve been through in perspective.

2018 Wrap Up Questions

  1. What was the best thing that happened this year?
  2. Of all the things you worked on this year, which accomplishment are you most proud of?
  3. What was your happiest memory of 2018?
  4. What did you do that scared you most?

Here are some of my answers:
I met my boyfriend towards the end of 2017 and I think the best thing that happened this year was deepening our relationship and learning a lot about each other, and in turn about myself in the process.

And I am proud of this blog.  The thought that people, even if it is just one or two of you, read what I have to say is truly humbling.  I hope I provide you with some tidbits you can use in your life and finances.

As for the happiest memory, I’m going to take the easy route and say it was a tie.  First was a sunset swim with my boyfriend while on vacation.  Next is holding hands with my adorable niece, also while on vacation.
Hmmm I’m seeing a pattern here.

What scared me the most this year is also what I’m proud of. Putting myself out into the internet for others to see. It stirs up a lot of insecurities from the past such as fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough and what if no one reads at all? Does this mean I’m insignificant?

Sometimes when we look back like this, we are not that satisfied with what we see.  Maybe we didn’t have too many happy memories to choose from, we didn’t accomplish as much as we hoped or we didn’t reach our savings goals.

It’s ok.  Forgive yourself.

This is the time when we can analyze how we can make small tweaks that go a long way.

Resolutions Don’t Work

Many people take this to mean New Year’s resolutions. You know the ones, lose weight, go to the gym more, eat salads, save more money.

We all embark on the journey of resolutions with the perfectionist mindset. I must work out 4 times a week, I must only buy necessities.

Any deviation and we see it as a failure.

People also say that you need only do something for 45 days before it becomes a habit. That’s great, now how do we get to the 45 day mark from January 1 to the second week of February? The second week of February is actually when most give up their resolutions. Why are people giving up right when it should become a habit?

I must have missed a step.

What To Do Instead

James Clear, an expert on habits, tells us that the habits we want to adopt are based on who we want to be. If our resolutions are to lose weight and go to the gym, we probably want to be a healthy person. If our resolution is to save money, we want to be financially savvy.

Clear encourages us to flip the mindset and view ourselves as who we want to be then act accordingly.

Instead of only feeling the punishing stick, let us experience the motivating carrot first.

Let’s say that I was my idea of a healthy person. But currently, I never go to the gym, despite my membership; I eat chips and wings; or I drink 2 to 3 glasses of wine every night. My actions and how I view myself are at odds with each other.

But if I go to the gym just one time this week, it’s a step towards the healthy person I want to be. If I choose salad instead of fries as a side, it’s a win. I say ‘tomorrow’ to that last glass of wine, it’s a win. All these little things add to reinforce the idea that I’m a healthy person.

The key is not to think of myself as an unhealthy person, looking to change. No one is motivated to make lasting change through shame and punishment.

The Step We Missed

Ok, that sounds encouraging, but how do I actually get my butt to the gym?

The missing step in most resolutions is to set a time and location to do the action. Instead of saying I will go to the gym 3 times a week, I need to be specific.

I will go to the yoga studio next to my office on Tuesday and Thursday evenings before getting on the train home.

The findings of when actions become a habit is when it happens on autopilot. You don’t have to think about doing it anymore and that takes repetition. Perhaps 45 times. Some behaviors will take more reps, some less.

When highly productive people talk about setting up a new morning routine, they are talking about forming new habits.

So we can think of our resolutions as setting up new routines. If we one day break the routine, we can just resume tomorrow. We wouldn’t necessarily beat ourselves up for missing a day.

Putting it all together

So as we are reflecting on how we want our new year to go, think about the kind of person we want to be; a morning person, a healthy person, a financially responsible person.

Then we set a time and location to put those plans in action. I will transfer $100 to my emergency fund every payday, after work I will get off the bus 1 stop earlier and walk home.

Finally, instead of resolutions which imply black and white, failure or success, think of us embarking on new routines. Routines sometimes gets interrupted, but we just make adjustments and get back to them.

Happy New Years and let’s set ourselves for success this year!

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