Making New Year's resolutions in January... or August

By Vanessa De La Rosa


“I’ll start on January 1st.”

That simple sentence was tossed around in multiple conversations as I did my share of eavesdropping this December: relatives committing to weight loss, friends planning to save money — all in love with the promise of an illusory perfect day that will bestow upon them invincible willpower. But I've failed too many times to forget: You can’t plan to change in the future without being ready for change now.

A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article suggests a great way to keep New Year’s resolutions: Make them in August. Make them when there is the least amount of pressure to keep them, and most importantly, make them when you’re aligned with the success.

Data from StickK, a resolution-oriented website, suggests that January could be the worst month to try to change your life, at least for its users. A University of Scranton psychologist agrees, “People rushing in are likely to fail … they should be changing when they’re prepared.”

The resolutions are vital, but the day you start? Not so much. Here’s my two cents on how to truly put the wheels in motion:

1. See yourself there before you take any action. If you cringe at the image of the final result, then you aren’t ready to believe you can do it. Sometimes this takes time and practice. You want to see yourself at the finish line and feel good rather than overwhelmed or unconvinced at the thought of it. When you believe in what you’re doing, there tends to be more ease and less resistance or self-sabotage.

2. Start small. Such a cliché, but it’s an important concept, especially to those all-or-nothing-ers. Once you know it’s possible, commit to one small change. Chip away at the sculpture slowly and calmly; when you know you’re eventually going to reach your vision, there is no need to clumsily rush or put too much pressure on yourself too soon.

3. Live as if your dream has already come to fruition. You’re a person working towards a resolution, but it is imperative to identify with the end result, too. Obviously, you can’t spend like you’re a millionaire until you are one, but you can start to draft a plan to put in place once you’ve tripled your income. Although you don’t have nearly enough clients, you can talk with a prospect as if you really don’t desperately need their business (which usually is a very attractive quality, anyway).

The exciting thing about this approach is that you get to enjoy the process; once you believe the goal is attainable and that you are capable of doing what it takes, the action comes more easily. Whether it’s January 1st or June 29th, stick to your resolutions when you’re ready and willing, and I’m sure you’ll find much better success than the people already dropping like flies from the gym.