New Year’s Resolutions Are a Waste of Time

A few months ago I was trawling the pages of Reddit for something interesting to read and I stumbled across the following question:

“Why am I way more motivated before going to bed than I am in the morning?”

This question piqued my interest because I am a serial offender of feeling this way. For me, 11pm is high time to take up a new hobby, create a YouTube channel, launch a podcast, start up a business, and solve world hunger… tomorrow.

One Redditor explained this through the Ainslie-Rachlin model of self-control.

“At an earlier point in time (in your case at night) smaller and larger rewards are both at an equal distance (you’re about to go to sleep, so the possibility of watching TV or joining a club are both about 8 hours away) and at this time the larger later reward (like exercising or joining a club) is preferred over the smaller sooner reward (like watching TV). So you make these big plans, but once you wake up and the smaller sooner reward is more imminent, easier to attain, and more instantly gratifying, your time goes to that and your motivation towards other goals decreases.”

Personally, I think at night we dare to dream big (pardon the pun) because it’s a form of procrastination. We know deep down that no actual work is getting done at 3am. Maybe I have some good ideas, but what actual steps will I be taking to start a business from 2-4am?

So what does this have to do with New Year’s resolutions? I’m no expert on human behaviour but I imagine that the same model applies to our ambitious New Year’s resolutions. As soon as the Christmas decorations come out we start to defer our responsibilities to the next year. In December hardly anyone joins a gym and it’s rare that people change jobs around this time. Once the New Year rolls around and we actually have to follow through with our resolutions, they’re casually swept under the rug as we tend to our usual responsibilities, making the whole thing waste of time!

So, dear reader, we’re now faced with a choice – we can ditch resolutions entirely or we can hack them. Taking the easy option probably wouldn’t make for a great blog, so here are 3 hacks for your next New Year’s resolutions:

1) Do it now
Ditch the resolution and make “do it now” your new mantra. Why wait till January 1st? Anything worth doing is worth doing right now, right?

2) Bet on yourself
Make yourself financially accountable for following through with your actions. Give a mate $50 to hold until you have actually achieved what you set out to. The easier it is to for you to achieve the stated goal, the more you should bet to ensure accountability. Be prepared to part ways with the money if you don’t achieve your goals.

3) Swap your New Year’s resolutions for New Month resolutions
Goals that set are once a year and then never looked at again are pretty much doomed to fail. Commit to re-assessing your goals once a month and only set goals that can be achieved within 30 days. I particularly like this hack because it ensures that at least 12 times a year you are setting aside time for self-reflection – something we tend to forget to do.

So that’s it. Try these three hacks and see what works for you. And with that, we wish you all a happy and successful 2018.

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