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That said, the video is a compliment to the blog, and
you will find far more information in the written version.
I have had incredible luck and growth as the result of New Year’s resolutions. In 2015 I decided to turn my life around and by the end of 2016 I had fulfilled almost every aspect of that resolution- from changing my name to eliminating several of my massive faults as an individual. In 2016 I decided to write a book and by the end of 2017 I had written over 100,000 words of what is as of yet an unpublished novel. It is strange how effective resolutions are in changing how you live your life and how you grow and develop.
I didn’t always think this. Resolutions to me were for most of my life a ridiculous idea. Especially considering that 80% of American resolutions apparently fail by February. That’s a massive failure rate, something like 8% of resolutions are successful– which may say a lot about who we are as a species. I believe that no amount of motivational videos and inspirational quotes can help with those kind of odds. I think that what people actually need is a lesson in skill of making and keeping their resolutions.
There are plenty of books that have changed my life and how I make resolutions- which is something I do year round. The most prominent would be the Power of habit by Charles Duhigg. In this book Duhigg discusses the habit loop: how it is we form and keep our habits. This ultimately shows the reader how to reprogram themselves to ensure easier formation of habits. I want you to understand that the main goal in improving yourself is to form new habits. The reason many of us fail our resolutions is that we do not ever start them- largely because we have no habitual need to do so.
Many of us wait until January 1st to start, and then miss that because of our hangover. So you say to yourself, sure I’ll just start it on the 2nd.. It will be fine. Then that day comes and goes. After a week, you’ve completely given up on living a healthier lifestyle and decided that cheesy poofs and seven straight hours of Netflix is exactly what you needed in life. Sound familiar? If you had known your resolution and formulated your habit before the first, you would have been successful in the first few weeks. Later I will show you a trick to do this.
Resisting change isn’t the only path to failure, but it’s the path I struggled with when for some reason I decided to spend all of 2016 getting up at 4:30 in the morning every morning- so that I could be healthier. The alarm would go off and I fought every last boisterous interruption of my sleep. Fighting the urge to sleep in is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done- even though I have always been an early riser. But I found after committing to it that eventually I just wanted to go to bed at 9:00 and wake up at 4:30. It took weeks, but soon I woke up well before the alarm and went on from there.
This was simple, but not easy. I had to trick myself into getting up. The first weeks I filled myself with excuses- this is stupid, I’m too tired for this, that kind of thing. So I played a game: I started putting my phone on the other side of the room. When I found myself getting up and then walking back to the bed, I started putting my phone downstairs in my office where I left the lights on for security reasons. I piled my clothes for the next day under my phone. Every time I woke up I was then dressed and had walked half of my apartment just to turn off my alarm.
I do this now too, though I go to bed at 11:00 because of work constraints. Every morning I still struggle to get up at 7:00. My bed is a warm and inviting place where the things I love the most congregate for several hours. It is comfortable and sacred- yet I have to disdain it or else I’ll never accomplish my goals.
My father used to teach in a prison. Back in those days he’d have to drive an hour from Hammond NY to Ogdensburg every morning. The expenses rack up on commutes like that, and with as many kids as he had to take care of, money was always tighter than he would have liked. I assume that is why he decided to bring lunch to work every day- a kind of resolution that he wanted to stick with because it saved him money and added a sense of convenience while at work.
He had the resolution right there, plain and simple. The first day he got up, got ready for work, pulled out the driveway and got through the commute only to find that he had to buy his lunch because he left his own lunch at home. He went on like this for some time, most days forgetting his lunch and only some days remembering.
Then he did the most creative thing. He left his car keys in the fridge with his lunch. A small, odd habit- but he knew that if he did not have his keys he could not get to work. Instead of forming the habit of bringing his lunch- he chose to form the habit of leaving his keys on top of his lunch every day. Just like me leaving the phone in another room and putting the next day’s clothes underneath it, he inadvertently tricked himself into keeping his resolution. Through recognizing failure he and I were able to ensure in ourselves an avenue to success.
To keep your resolutions has nothing to do with whether or not you fail the first time, but your ability to adapt to that failure and ensure that a habit forms- to ensure that you don’t fail in future times. Simple habits are the easiest to form. Use a creative approach to land down the foundation for the harder habit you need to form. You will eventually learn that failure is not the end all, but the learning curve.
The learning curve mindset is what separates the big failures from the small ones. Large failures are the end all moments- when the only lesson to learn is one that you learn too late, or one that does not change your ultimate outcome. When focusing on small failures you learn to adapt toward success. You’ll find that maybe studying every day at 3:00 pm doesn’t make sense because that is when you are the most exhausted, or you find that you are better at exercising later in the day because you have had three meals and you feel more energized. Being discouraged by failure is not a matter of motivation, but a failure to understand how we learn to achieve our habits. It is not a disciplined mind that forms habits, but a tricked one- one that sees benefit in the formation of the habit.
I am a strong proponent of stoicism. While the modern stoic philosophies are plagued by a slue of ridiculous over generalizations and flagrant idealism, I have personally found that the philosophy of life prepares you for the days when life does not go your way. We do not all want to embrace discomfort- a central theme of stoicism- we do not all want to study math every day or get up and go for a twelve mile run as if that’s what we’re supposed to do. Few of us want to jump into an ice cold river, wash the dishes, walk the dog, or even write anything at all.
A personal hero and old friend of mine, Max Romey, is a man who always finds a way to do what he loves the most. It has gotten him far, and I hope his videos inspire you
as much as they inspire me. And yes, he jumped into an ice cold river once.
But there are those of us who do these things every day because they have to, and so they’ve trained themselves to succeed. Each of us has a tough road to follow, with bumps and potholes and decisions that lead to a whole mess of goblins and surprises. But we are humans. That means we can pave our roads to make it easier to travel. We are far more capable than we’d care to admit- capable of changing ourselves and reaching for what is meaningful to us. Every one of us has a different set of tools we use to fill the potholes and flatten out our road. Some of us use dynamite and succeed at little, others take the bumps and ride with wide wheels that just roll over the potholes. Thousands of tools are readily available and we each must find what works for us. In the world of smartphones we now have things that our parents only wished they had access to.
There are apps like Habitica that track your progress. Even your calendar app can drastically change your life. I personally use three planning systems, an Eisenhower grid to-do list, google calendar, and a deadline calendar. I color-code and schedule every minute of my day and try my best to follow it, often showing it to Moose for her seal of approval. I set deadlines for when my work goes public, which keeps me accountable to people like you, and I use the Eisenhower grid to determine what it is I need to be sure I accomplish by the end of the day if my schedule can’t be followed.
Here’s the secret, I fail a lot. As a student I rarely passed exams, I regularly forget certain steps in processes I’ve repeated hundreds of times, and my internet addiction and social media use regularly gets in my way of work.
But I do not let that stop me from pushing myself further.
If there is any god you can worship, or anything you should believe in, it is meaningful hard work and perseverance. More than anything working towards what is meaningful in your life will bring to you the joy that you desire far more than simply having what you want. Focus entirely on improving yourself, on bringing yourself to become the best you can be no matter how many times you fail.
Fail spectacularly, but at the end of the day- keep at it, my friends.
Feel free to check out my growing collection of short stories, doodles, and blogs here. And I ask that you would be so kind as to like, subscribe and share anything that you think is worth merit as it helps me continue to create content for viewers like you.
I want to hear about your New Year’s resolutions, so in the comments below tell me what it is that you are doing to improve your life.
Also each week I want to ask a book recommendation question so let me know in the comments below what book or series have you read that motivated you to finally do the thing.
A special thank you to my featured writers Andrew Hope and Samuel the Poet. I recommend you check out their work in the featured writers section. Andrew has written for Marvel Comics and Samuel deserves more recognition for the verses he creates.
Thanks again for reading and please, keep writing my friends!
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