And so we arrive at New Year’s Resolution time again. What is it about January 1 that makes people who’ve languished for twelve months in messy homes, tight pants, and bad relationships suddenly log on to Facebook and publicly vow to turn everything around? That’s not how change works.
Sure, January 1, 2017 happens to be my first New Year’s Day waking up in the new country that I now call home. But my move from New York City corporate ladder-climber to Caribbean-dwelling freelancer wasn’t the result of some prosecco-fuelled New Year’s resolution conjured up the night before, tweeted about vigorously for a couple weeks, then abandoned like so many diets and detoxes by Valentine’s Day.
Nor did I announce my intentions on social media, to declare myself a [soon-to-be] changed woman and ‘update’ you all on my ‘progress.’ No, all of this stuff was the culmination of a number of plans over a number of months, executed privately, one small, manageable step at a time.
Every year around this time, our feeds burst with pronouncements about quitting cigarettes, sugar, or carbs. About becoming more fit, more zen, more charitable. But those words tumble into the void the moment they’re posted under the guise of a new year’s resolution. Someone hitting the ‘Like’ button isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference in whether YOU follow through.
There is no magic day of the year when change is easier or more attainable. Small stuff — like improving your diet or sex life, or reining in your email inbox — can happen at any time. This year, I helped a stranger cut her 90,000-message inbox in half in less than half an hour. All it took was a strategy (a plan of attack I created in five minutes), focus (a set time on a set day that we dedicated to the task) and commitment (sitting down on that day with time to delete and file our little hearts out).
That’s called getting your shit together, and it works on big stuff, too.
I spent a whole year saving money to enable me to quit my high-level publishing job. My husband and I worked on our move to the Dominican Republic in secret for eighteen months. No bold declarations on Facebook, just daily checking off of items on our to-do list, such as ‘research home loans’ and ‘learn Spanish’ — none of which was going to happen any faster if we had documented it for our friends and family online. In fact, I’d wager to say time spent posting about your New Year’s resolutions is time taken away from actually carrying them out.
In the end, you have to make and keep New Year’s resolutions – or any resolutions – for yourself, not for an army of unseen ‘Likers’ or to gain membership to the January 1 Club. Strategise, focus, and commit. Get your sh*t together, get offline, and you’re much more likely to get things done.
Sarah Knight’s guide to doing more and shouting about it a lot less…