Every December 31st, I make a series of “New Year's resolutions” intended to help me become a healthier, happier, and more virtuous version of myself. I generally make at least four—ranging from the tangibly measurable, “floss your teeth every night,” to the more esoteric like, “be nicer to people.” But the one thing they all have in common? I never, ever stick to them.
The thing is, I don’t think New Year's resolutions really make any sense. January may technically be the start of a new year, but frankly, it’s also one of the coldest, darkest, and least-fun months on the calendar. Why on earth would I want to give up my nightly wine habit, or start looking for a new job in the dead of winter?
On the other hand, spring seems like the perfect time for new beginnings. The weather is changing, the sun is appearing with more reliable regularity, and people are finally being released from the grips of seasonal affective disorder’s misery (at least I am). As far as I’m concerned, nothing feels as much like a “new year” as the first day of daylight saving time, when the days become measurably longer. If you’re going to force yourself to take a 15-minute jog every day after work, wouldn’t you prefer to do so with a bit of natural light?
There’s a common myth that it only takes 21 days to form a habit. It doesn’t. It takes a whole lot longer. According to research, it actually takes between two and eight months to make a behavior habitual. What that means for me is that, despite my best efforts to keep resolutions, I often fall back into my old patterns. I floss for a few days, then come home too late one night, skip flossing, and proceed to “forget” for the next few weeks.
So in honor of the first day of spring, I’ve decided to make a single resolution that I think I can stick to. I’m going to meditate every day, just for ten minutes. (Hopefully that will increase with time, but I’m trying to keep things realistic.) I’m not going to become fanatical, but I am going to hold myself to my promise (daily iCal alerts are already in place). If you guys have any recommendations for ways to stick with a meditation practice (favorite apps perhaps?), I’d love to hear them. In a few months, the goal is that it will have become a requisite part of my daily routine in the same way that brushing my teeth already is. I’ll let you guys know how it goes—but right now, I want to know what you’re committing to this spring.
Image by ITG.