It’s this time of the year again: people are making resolutions about what to do in 2012: eat less, exercise more, quit smoking, learn a new language, find a girlfriend/boyfriend, become a millionaire.
My resolutions for 2012? None. Absolutely nothing.
That’s not because I think that I and my life are perfect already. They are not, and they probably never will be.
But if there is something that I want to change or improve, I don’t see why I have to wait for the arbitrarily set date of 31 December or 1 January. When I want to change something, I will do it right away. As I did in 2011:
- In March I read “Into the Wild” which inspired me to go on outdoor adventures again. Already in June I walked across England, all the way from the East to the West coast.
- I wanted to prioritize my studies, so I reduced my work to part-time.
- For my birthday in July, I went to the Channel Islands for more hiking and discovered paradise.
- As I became tired of life in London after two years there, I quit my job, terminated my lease and spontaneously moved to Malta.
For none of these things did I say “I’ll do that next year” or “I need to plan it more before I can do it.” I just did them. And I am happy that I did.
Whether it’s resolutions, long-term plans or to-do lists, it’s all just procrastination. If there is something in your life that you want to change, the time is now.
- If you want to quit smoking, throw away all the cigarettes in your house now. Don’t buy new ones. It’s easy. (If you have cigars, you can give them to me.)
- If you want to learn a new language, start today. No, you don’t need to wait until a course starts or the books arrive. For almost any language, you will find the first few lessons online.
- If you want to exercise more, you don’t need to register with a gym. Put on your running shoes and go for a run now. If you don’t have running shoes, go for a long and fast walk. If you can’t go outside, do push-ups at home.
- If you want to quit your job, write the resignation letter today and e-mail it to your employer. (In some jurisdictions, a signed resignation letter may be required in addition to that.)
- If you want to end a relationship, tell your boyfriend/girlfriend that you never want to see them again. (But get your stuff back first.)
- If you want to visit me in Malta, buy the ticket. (Maybe after asking me when I will be available.)
- If you want to visit any other country, buy the ticket.
- If you want to become more intellectual, buy or borrow a good book today and start reading it tonight. (Ask me for recommendations.) If you can’t get access to books that quickly, start with my blog.
- If you want to give more to the poor, go out and help a homeless person today.
- If you want to be more creative, start drawing, painting or taking photographs.
- If you want to live healthier, buy or pick fruits.
- If you want to become more adventurous, pack your sleeping bag and spend a night in the forest. (I might even join you.)
- Do not under any circumstances use words like “tomorrow”, “later” or “one day”.
Amen….it could not have been summed up more neatly Andreas :))
Agree. As Nike succinctly said, “Just Do It.”
Excellent! Too bad you terminated your lease in London before you called me. But good on ya!
Great entry yes we can
Happy New year :)
If we didn’t procrastinate we’d all be dead sooner …
I couldn’t agree with you more. Life is simple when you want it to be! Best wishes for health and peace in the year ahead!
I made a resolution 20 years ago and I kept it – made a resolution that I’ll never make resolutions.
Happy New Year to all.
It’s good to have a specific time of the year to reflect and see if we’re going in the direction we want to be going in.
But can’t or shouldn’t we do this every day, every week?
You are absolutely right, Andreas. This is is a great post.
In general I think people like to have a clear start date. Like start exercising on Monday, so then I can still justify eating and not exercising until then…
Glückliches neues Jahr! :-)
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YES! When I want to change something, I will do it right away. This is the best Way!
Thank’s for the good Advice.
But… Adventure in the Wood? With you? Na, ich weiß nicht… ^^
…e felice anno Nuovo a tutti !!!
Nothing more obviously true and needless to say has ever been written.
I really liked this post.
yes… take up something new… look at your career afresh – http://www.ivcmalta.blogspot.com
I agree with your point about not making resolutions only at New Year’s etc, but I think that focusing on one goal at a time necessarily means you’ll have to put things off (if you can’t just forget about them entirely). For instance, if you want to go to the gym twice a week and also want to read the news every day, you may find that you’re too tired to do one because you’ve spent your effort on the other. It really does take a while to make habits stick or to break bad habits like smoking. Many goals have definite finish lines, so you can just tackle them one-by-one.
I like the idea of starting now. But for people already going full speed on their goals, there is often the opposite problem of always starting new things and never following through. There’s a great post about this on Study Hacks.
Thanks for writing this reply, Kevin. I agree that there’s nothing special about New Year’s for making plans to change your own circumstances. But I could not disagree more with this post’s advocacy that you try to achieve goals in a totally spontaneous and unplanned way.
For example: suppose you want to travel but don’t have money to buy the ticket today? What do you do? Plan to save the money. Suppose you want to eat healthier foods but you live in a city where healthier foods are significantly more costly than unhealthy foods, you have a tight food budget, you don’t own a car or know people with a car, and there are no nearby gardens with available fruit? Again, you have to plan a sensible food budget. If you run out and buy expensive fruits today, you might ruin your current wealth endowment and then later, more optimal solutions will no longer be realizable for you.
I’m especially offended by the idea that if you want to help the poor, you should spontaneously give to nearby impoverished people. No. You should think very hard and visit the Giving What We Can website, unless your goal is to spontaneously look charitable for social signaling benefits, which is not really the same as helping the poor.
Some of the suggestions carry low cost: spontaneously going for a vigorous walk is OK advice; spontaneously trying out some arts and crafts as a hobby sounds fine if it’s in your budget.
But on the whole, this post consists of just about the worst advice I can imagine. Most people who want to see changes in their own life are not constrained by akrasia or too much planning — in fact they most often are feeling the unanticipated consequences of previous unplanned decisions.
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I haven’t done my “resolved photo challenge” entry yet but have started reading others; yours is so dead on accurate.
If I may add one item to your concluding list it would be this: Drop the phrase “I wish” from your vocabulary, and replace it with “I will.” I started doing that in 1997, and it changed my life.
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Haha, it’s so simple but so perfect. If you want it, go get it. Done.
I used to be like that, not sure where things sort of got all tangled up or convoluted. And as an overthinker, I love this but sometimes I love procrastinating a little too much, too. Haha. Procrastination — that’s something I always “start now.”
My fammily always say that I am wastiing my time here at web, except I know I am getting
know-how everyday by reading thes nice content.
Fantastic post..n good point that one shud get his/her stuff back before breaking up as i did that mistake..n great that u are going to come camping here as i m going soon :) …inspiring post really..i hope i get something out of it
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