New Year's Resolution Approach as a Realistic Adult


January, a month when the general public is most excited about the idea of making plans that would last till the end of the year and hopefully the year(s) after. Whether it is eating healthy, losing weight or stop dropping the f-bomb in front of anyone younger than 18. My grand goal through the past decade has been a simple yet hard to achieve - sleep early. Insomnia (not medically diagnosed) had haunted me when I was small and I had, therefore, made a habit of sleeping late. My brain seems to always turn on by itself whenever I think it’s time for bed. Since then, adjusting my sleeping pattern has been part of my new year solution every year. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.

If it is not still not obvious to you, yes, it is still part of my plan this year. Apparently, I am not the life coach that can give you a foolproof way to achieve all your goals, in fact, I do not think any life coach can make that happen other than our own selves, but if you are looking for a realistic adult sharing the same frustration and is looking for improvements, then keep on reading and join me as I break down my failures and try to pinpoint a more effective approach to my decade-old new year resolution.

Nobody’s business but mine

First off, I believe it’s important to set my mind straight. I know that my goal is essentially something that I can do for myself. While people around me would be happy that I have a healthier lifestyle, it should be myself who want it the most.

There used to be a time where I would ask family and friends to give me a morning call, thinking if I wake up early I would eventually go to bed early. It did not go as planned and this became a burden for them. Learning from that experience, I know I should not rely on others, giving myself a chance to shift my own responsibility.

Make specific and realistic goals

Setting a goal can be easy, but it can also be very vague in terms of how one considers him or herself succeeded. Take me for example, my bedtime is usually 5 a.m., sleeping at 4:30 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. are both technically considered as earlier. It is, therefore, important for me to think it through, nail down my ideal ‘sleeping early’ time and how much I am willing to compromise.

I know for a fact that I am no the-clock-hit-11-PM-I-am-so-ready-for-bed kind of girl, and with my current time difference with Amethy (who lives in Los Angeles), the time between my 12 a.m. and 2 a.m. is crucial for us to discuss anything work and daily lives related, so the best I know I can do is finishing things up by 1:30 a.m. and go to bed at 2:00 a.m. With the specifics settled down, I would know how close I am to my goal.

Take Baby Steps

Now that the goal is set, there really is nothing left to do aside from actually working towards it. However, this is also the most critical, yet the easiest to screw up step speaking from all my failed attempts in the past.

What I realize is, no matter how pumped up I am towards the goal at the beginning, hardly can I do something cold turkey and keep going within my comfort zone. Therefore, what I am working on this year is to expand my comfort zone towards my goal.

Put it in simpler words, I am going to set multiple milestones towards this big goal. If the ideal scenario is sleeping at 2 a.m., I am moving my usual 5 a.m. sleeping time 15 minutes ahead, even 5 minutes ahead is acceptable depending on how well my body copes with the slightly different sleeping time. One small step at a time constantly sleeping earlier and earlier is better than taking a big step, feeling fed up soon after and bounce back to my starting point, don’t you agree?

A reason to do it tomorrow is an excuse to yourself

People always say patience is key to success, what I had learned is that excuse is the reason of failure. There is a short Chinese poem that the 5-year-old me had to memorized (yes, we kids do such thing) but only truly grasped and appreciated its essence as I grow older. The direct translation is: there is tomorrow after tomorrow, there are numerous tomorrows, if I live my life only waiting for tomorrow, time slips and nothing will ever get done.

The poem itself is pretty straight forward and self-explanatory, but when applied to my daily lives or more specifically my new year resolution, it is quite embarrassing thinking back how many times I had given myself reasons to do it ‘tomorrow’ when things just slip and then I stopped doing it altogether.

If this sounds familiar to you, my piece of advice would be, notice it when your inner self is saying ‘I don’t have time for this’ or ‘I’ve been so good for a certain number of days, today can be a treat day’ and try to fight it off. Plan a solid schedule ahead to give yourself no reason to let it slip. After all, you only have yourself to face at the end of the day, so why give yourself reasons to regret later on?

Make it a habit

This point seems to be quite a no brainer, but when I think more of it, me sleeping late is basically a bad habit I formed over the years, and what I am trying to do now is simply form a better habit to replace the old one.

Us human is animals of habit. What we do every day have a pattern of its own and we tend to choose to be comfortable over facing unfamiliarity. The process of forming a new habit is quite painful for me, but knowing that there is an end to this pain when I have succeeded, everything I do would be worth it.

Here is where science can come in to help - giving us an idea of how long we have to suffer through before we reach our goal. Despite a wide believe that we only need 21 days to form a habit, it actually takes 66 days, an average of 18 to 254 days, according to the research article “How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world” published in 2009. Considering myself pretty average, I am hoping 66 days can do the trick this time!

Share your progress

While I am a firm believer that my new year resolution is nobody’s business but mine, I do see the benefit of sharing my process. If it is a good habit, I do not see a reason to keep it within me.

Just as Gandhi's famous quote goes, “be the change you want to see in the world.” Though I do not think of myself that big at the moment, I can agree to a tone down version of “be the change I want to see in the community.” Who knows I may become a good influence on someone who actually needs it, and I can even get more motivated to do a better job just to be a good model.

Now that you have successfully finished reading through me giving my 2 cents on a better new year resolution approach, I encourage you to start today on yours as well. Know that you are one step closer to success if you start sooner!