Research shows that by February 15th—what might be called “Discouragement Day”—many people have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions.
Instead of a time to feel discouraged, today can be a time to re-evaluate, to do the hard work of asking ourselves, “If something isn’t working, why not?”
If you started working on an aim in January and have slowed down or stopped, consider using February 15th as “Determination Day.”
You can succeed by failing; if you’ve found that one approach doesn’t work, that’s useful information. Now you can try something else, and stay determined to meet your aim.
To help you reframe Discouragement Day as Determination Day and find new ways to keep up your resolutions, you might:
- Consider what didn’t work for you, and why. Did you resolve to write in the morning but you’re not a morning person? Read before bed when you can’t keep your eyes open? Exercise on your own when you might benefit from the accountability of a partner or class?
- Reflect on the benefits. To keep ourselves energized, it’s useful to think of a habit’s rewards. Regular exercise boosts energy throughout the day, improves nighttime sleep, and makes it easier to sit through endless video calls.
- Identify new strategies. Schedule time to write at night after everyone’s in bed (The Strategy of Distinctions). Read in the morning with your first cup of coffee (The Strategy of Pairing). Talk to a friend on the phone on your daily walk (The Strategy of Accountability). Look over my list of 21 Strategies for Habit Change for more ideas to try.
- Make an investment. Beautiful tools or gear can make your habit more convenient or more enjoyable to keep, and for some people, investing in an activity makes them more likely to stick with it. Would investing in a better pair of athletic shoes, a reading light, or high-quality headphones make your habit more pleasant?
- “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Thank you, Voltaire. If you can’t face cleaning out the attic, tackle one bureau drawer. If you break your resolution today, try again tomorrow. Give yourself permission to lower the bar.
To help you keep up the habits that make you happier and healthier, I’ve launched a series of Habit Jump-Starts, starting with the habit of Movement. These Jump-Starts include a variety of tools to help you start (or re-start) your habit.
As part of these Jump-Starts, I’ll be hosting Instagram Lives to share tips, answer questions, and offer encouragement. Watch the video from today’s Live below, and follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss the next one. (Spoiler alert: Our next Jump-Start is “Rest,” and I’ll be joined by a special guest on Instagram Live.)