New Year resolutions are notoriously flimsy. Gym memberships spike in January, but by March the numbers are basically where they were in December. Diets are initiated and broken. Less coffee, less alcohol, more time with family, more meals at home... only to fall back into the same old habits of last year within a few weeks, if not a few days.
Like just about everyone else, the Legion wants to remake our corner of the world. Unlike most of our political opposition, however, we recognize the futility of hoping for the political future that we want without taking our own engine out of park. Politics is only meaningful to the extent that it has an impact on our lives, and much that determines the quality of our lives falls outside of politics. It would be hypocritical and impotent to bitch and moan about politics without taking effortful steps towards improving ourselves offline.
Towards these ends, it makes sense to capitalize on the tradition of New Year resolutions, with an eye on the traps that keep people from achieving the transformation of their goal into a habit. Here are a few of the bigger ones:
1. Not writing down your goals.
Merely wishing for something does nothing. An unspoken wish is the half-hearted dream of the insincere, the unserious.
Write it down repeatedly. Say it aloud to yourself. Put it somewhere where you will be reminded of your goal and that your goal matters. With your goal more clearly and consistently in your head, it will be easier for you to remember repeating the necessary actions until the desired habit is formed.
2. Not planning the execution of your goals.
Without a step-by-step plan for how you will accomplish your goals, it is easy to get overwhelmed, put off the tasks, or simply forget. You need at least a sketch of the steps leading up to the creation of your new habit or the rejection of the old one if you want a reasonable chance of success.
If you plan on working out twice a week, schedule some time, cancel any possible conflicts, and make part of your goal the acquisition of work-out clothes and any other peripheral stuff. If you want to quit smoking, don't just tell yourself you'll try again this year. Buy some gum and tell your other friends who smoke you will be avoiding them for 45 days. Start with your destination in mind, but don't neglect to plan the route you'll have to walk on to get there.
3. Telling everyone about what you're doing.
We live in a narcissistic age. Slacktivism, criticizing, and armchair quarterbacking dominate much of the internet, despite being of no use to anyone, and they are all annoying in their own right. But worse, they make the participants feel as if they are accomplishing something worthwhile.
Telling people about what you're going to do can erode drive and motivation in the same way. So shut up and just do it. If someone asks, don't be afraid of telling them what you're up to, but don't let yourself go out of your way to mention what you're planning, or get caught up in some long-winded debate on how realistic your goals are. Shut up and do it.
Everyone will have their own goals and plans, but here are a few suggestions:
1. Start a bullet journal to help you stay organized
2. Read a new book a month, preferably in paper, and cover-to-cover (if you're looking for a suggestion, consider Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations")
3. Do 50 push-ups a night. If you can't do 50, start with 20, and add 2 every week until you're at 50 (50 first week of Jan, 52 second week of Jan, 54 third week of Jan, etc)
4. Schedule a dinner with your family once a week, every week
Here's to a new year for a new tribe. Let's make it even better than the last one.