I am not in the habit of making New Year’s resolutions. My way is better.
I started flossing daily in December. I know, I know! At least it’s a habit now, and one that I hope I never give up. Three methods helped me stick to it.
The first is that I didn’t wait until January (or Ash Wednesday, or the First Sunday of Advent, especially because Advent is not a penitential season). I knew I needed to build the habit, so I picked a day to start and just kept going from there. The psychological benefit is twofold. I don’t have the pressure of starting on January 1 and trying to keep it up from there (for the month? the year? forever?) without fail. I also don’t annoy people around me nearly as much. I floss alone, but you’ve probably heard year-round gymgoers complain about the January crowds. I started drinking more water over the summer, so I was miffed when the rest of my office joined in and emptied the water cooler by midafternoon last week. But I got over it. Any effort, any time, is better than none.
“Keep going” is the second method that helped my resolution stick. It’s popularly called the “don’t break the chain” method. I don’t care whether Jerry Seinfeld is the originator. It works. The principle is this: mark an X on a calendar each day you do the habit you’re trying to build. After three days, you’ll have a chain of X’s. Don’t break the chain.
Third, I modified the chain method a little bit by adding the “never two days in a row” rule. Sometimes you have to skip a day. Maybe you legitimately forget. Maybe your priorities shift and your habit has to go. That’s fine. Skip one day, but never two. No matter what kept you from flossing, exercising, or reading yesterday, you must prioritize your habit today. You’ll start a new chain, and the method kicks in again.
Despite all of this, I signed up for National Blog Posting Month again. This month’s NaBloPoMo theme is “habits”, so it seemed ideal. It wasn’t long before I had to revise my commitment from “every day” to “31 posts in 31 days,” but I am charging forward. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Special thanks to my dear friend Lyzii, who is using this month to blog more and comment more while she is on modified bed rest.
I intentionally do not make New Year’s resolutions because I never ever keep them. My “any time of the year I feel like it” resolutions have turned out quite well. Hydration and clean teeth feel fantastic. I’m still working on my bedtime alarm.
If you’ve already “broken” your resolution, you do not have permission to quit. Start over today.