New Year’s Resolutions and The Future You

I haven’t done a post in a while. I have been too busy having a holiday from work, study and blogging. Whilst it was really nice not having to do any of those three, it wasn’t without some guilt.

So with blogging, I made a resolution to do better –  at least one blog post per week.  Which is a perfect segway into the first post of 2013 – the cultural phenomenon of the New Year’s resolution, personal motivation, and the future you.

New Year’s Resolutions

This year I noticed a number of articles in the media, frowning on the practice of new years resolutions, and this sentiment was also echoed by a number of my friends and colleagues.

Some of the arguments against making new years resolutions were:

  • Almost all new year resolutions fail, so don’t bother
  • If you don’t have the power and determination to change your life on any given day, why would a new year’s resolution be any more successful?
  • Everyone makes such a big deal of it, but I’m over all that nonsense
  • I stopped making resolutions years ago

Generally the consensus this year seems to be with the Grinch’s! This is a sad thing.  It is hard to stay motivated above and beyond what you find normal; to live and make steps towards the person you dream to be.

If making a resolution gives you momentum, use it

Before going further into my thoughts on New Years resolutions, I’ll rewind a little and cover a personal motivation concept that is a favourite of mine and a number of my colleagues.

The future you is lazy

The future you is lazy and will try to thwart your future plan. Think about it. The future you, when the time comes to act, more often than not, will say something like:

“Ah, can’t be bothered today. Maybe next week”

Again you make a deal, with the ever so obliging “future you”. We optimistically think that in the future we will be more driven, have more free time, and will surely do it. Which is wrong, usually on all three counts.

The idea of this personal motivational concept is to consciously think of the future you as being lazy, and then plan with that in mind. How can you help this lazy “future you” get things done!?

Build Traps

One way is to build traps. When planning, spend some time thinking on how you can bind the future you into backing up your vision with the effort required. A successful trap will make it difficult for the future you to escape.

An example of this is, I tell almost everyone who cares to listen, about my University study and my hopes of getting high marks. I don’t say that I will get high marks, but I make it clear that I really, earnestly, want to do well and that I plan sacrificing to try and achieve it.

The more people that know, the more people will ask for an update as the trimester progresses. By doing this I build social pressure on my goals. The expectation of others makes it harder for the future me to escape work required, binding me to my intended course of action.

So what’s this got to do with New Year’s resolutions?

A new years resolution can be one of most effective traps

People are already pre-disposed to ask about your resolutions. There is a strange social thing going on here, that almost everyone is involved in. The extra interest around New Years will help you build a better trap for the future you.

So make a resolution (it’s not too late), one that people will stand up and pay attention to. Something big, but do-able. Tell anyone who will listen. If it’s an interesting commitment, they’ll check-in throughout the year to see how you’re doing (have you given up yet?).

Tell enough people and you will not want to let them down.

Embrace the Resolution

To relegate the resolution to the bin does yourself a disservice. Seize the opportunity and leverage off this cultural phenomenon. Set a trap for the future you. Grow, and be better.

3 Tips for Resolution Success

I have three tips for resolution success, they are:

  • Make it big, but doable
  • Make it measurable – remove any subjectivity
  • Tell anyone who will listen

My Resolutions

So after all that noise about resolutions and setting traps, you might be wondering what mine are. To help me set a better trap, I’ll tell you. Just promise to give me all sorts of grief if I fail!

They are:

  1. Give up alcohol for all but six occasions in 2013. I’m regretting this one already.
  2. Exercise for a minimum of 10 minutes every day. For every minute not done, I need to catch up double. So 10 minutes missed becomes 20 minutes catchup.
  3. Do a budget and reconciliation every fortnight, coinciding with my pay schedule.
  4. One blog post per week, minimum.
  5. Run the City to Bay 12km race in under an hour again.

(I have a few other ones, but they’re subjective so have left them off)

So that’s it. Happy New Year everyone. Grow and be better.


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3 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions and The Future You

  1. Great post, made me think about my own resolutions and my strategies for sticking to them. To set my trap I will share them here: this year I am resolved to totally give up wheat (I have a newly diagnosed intolerance, but I LOVE bread and pasta), to live with purpose and thought to my impact on the world, to walk my new dog daily (not so much for him, but for me!), and to learn how to do 3 new things.

  2. Great post. Not trusting your future you is one of the biggest traps people face and the number one reason for procrastination. It’s not just that the future you is lazy, but you trust him/her too much! It’s like you view future you as some super proactive hero who will get all your missed work done. We set unreasonable goals for our future selves (and they are sometimes lazier than our present self! lol)

  3. Thanks for the comments. I frequently fall into the trap of thinking i’m some super proactive hero!! I think the biggest issue is that we don’t live in a bubble – there are always external factors that will interrupt the best laid plans or intentions. This post also got me thinking about the differences between a small action over the course of a year (like my resolutions tend to be) and something big, transformational that requires significant and difficult change. I stumbled across this really cool answer on Quora the other day that explains some reasons behind why our big dreams don’t come to fruition (in this case the guy was asking about launching a start-up). The first answer is awesome and made me do a fair bit of thinking:

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