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Practical Tips on What To Do Instead of New Year’s Resolutions

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series New Year's Is Stoopid

OK, so, we’ve let down our pants and gone and taken a collective #2 on a New Year’s tradition. So what now?

Well, I like to think that every day is New Year’s; I really do; every day is a chance to start again. But if that’s too much for you, try this instead. Try…

  • New Month’s Resolutions, or
  • New Fortnight’s Resolutions, or
  • New Triplet (or whatever a 3-week period is called)’s Resolutions

Every month, set a goal for, say, how many:

  • L2 movies to buy
  • L2 movies to play
  • SRS reps to do
  • Et cetera

And then see how you’re doing at the end of the month. Rather than judge your performance yes/no (goal reached or not), judge it on what % of the goal you completed. In other words, judge it proportionally. Also:

  • Be sure to set the goal to be something that is 
    • Fun
    • Directly within your control (you can control how many emails you send, not how many friends you have)
  • Less is more. The fewer goals you set, the better. I think…maybe…or not, I dunno, I mean…I would never try to inflate the number of goals per se, and I would prune the useless ones, so…it’s not like I’d get anal about it, I’d just only have the goals I care about, no more, no less…

You don’t have to wait till M/1 (the first of the month) either, you could just pick any arbitrary 30-day period. Say, 1/10 through 2/10.

Another option is New Week’s Resolutions, but…I personally tend to find that stressful, actually. The week has always been an awkward unit for me. So, yeah, no more on that from me 🙂 .

You could also split the difference and make New Fortnight’s Resolutions for every 2~3 weeks 1, that way you’re really marching to your own tune, really spinning on your own axis, as it were. Pivoting on your own fulcrum, if you will. You get the picture.

You wanna know which is my favorite? Well, I especially like the 3-weeks-at-a-time deal because it has a beginning, middle and end “triplet” structure. It’s long enough to be significant (and, if the 21-day “rule” is to be believed, habit-forming), but short enough that you don’t waste time. You get 15~17 triplets a year, not just 1 new year’s day. Also, because it’s not bound to the calendar, you don’t find yourself procrastinating (waiting for a new month/year to begin) or self-flagellating (“Oh sheet! Today’s the first day of the month and I still haven’t started!”). You can also take a day or two off after each triplet, for analysis and reflection, before going at it again.

To tell you the truth though, personally, I’m not the biggest goal-setter. I just try to do my best in the moment, each day. I tend to just GLOAF it a lot. Which is not to say I don’t set goals, I do, and but I also change them quite often. Some people will tell you this is a bad thing, but I’ve personally found that it’s a wonderful thing. And I’ve been pleased to find that the great productivity author and speaker Brian Tracy is on my side of the issue. In fact, if I recall correctly, he’s the one who turned me onto this whole goal-changing thing; he gave me the courage to be a goal-changer and not just a goal-setter. He “made it OK”.

Ultimately, goals, targets, resolutions, projections, whatever you wanna call them, are just tools. The point is to use them and not be used by them. You shouldn’t be taking orders from your tools — your tools should be taking orders from you. Ideas are the biggest tools of them all. They’re for using, not worshipping. Short of a steel-booted kick in the nuts, nothing’s more painful than doggedly continuing to go for something you don’t even want any more just because it’s something you thought you wanted, that you thought mattered, back in the past. But now you’ve said it, you said you wanted it, so, like a proverbial lemming off a cliff 2, you’re grimly marching to the bitter end. So, yeah, I’m constantly changing — refining, tweaking, modding and even discarding — goals as new information comes in. And yes, that information includes new personal preferences and desires. 3

Does that make me a flip-flopper? 4 I suppose it does. But then again, so what? I’m not a political monkey here for your entertainment, right? We like things and people who don’t change, not because stasis is good but because it’s convenient for us. Mercurial personalities are much more difficult to deal with than even consistently negative — violent, surly, cruel — ones. You know what, though? If you want something that doesn’t change, get a stone (oh, wait, those change, too! 😉 ). If you want something straight, get a needle (they taper a bit, but, whatever). If you want to hear the same thing over and over again, put an mp3 on loop. Human beings change. 5

Series NavigationDon’t Think Of It As A New Year, Think Of It As A New Day… >>


  1. “But 3 weeks isn’t a fortnight, Khatz!” — Don’t make me come over there and take off my pants, bro!
  2. Emphasis on the “proverbial” because, apparently, this whole lemmings off cliffs thing is a lie? Which is sad because I really enjoyed the Game Gear game
  3. Like how I “desired” your Mom and now I’m kind of over her 😛
  4. One good way around the whole flip-flopper issue is to just not share your goals; that’s my default policy. I do share them from time to time, but almost always with great regret after the fact. It’s weird, but…people who are good at getting you to talk about what you want tend to be crap at helping you get it. My, admittedly negative, impression is that people seem to want to know things — like your goals — for their own amusement, out of a morbid, intellectual curiosity rather than out of any genuine desire or (more importantly) ability to be of assistance. Wow, that sounds terrible. The good news is that I may be wrong 🙂 . On this. 😛
  5. I am a superhero and my name is 朝令暮改マン 🙂 .

  9 comments for “Practical Tips on What To Do Instead of New Year’s Resolutions

  1. January 31, 2013 at 00:40

    “I’m sick of following my dreams, man. I’m just going to ask where they’re going and hook up with ’em later.” -Mitch Hedberg

  2. Agent J
    February 2, 2013 at 08:50

    One of the best posts in a while. Not 2007-2009 era khatz level stuff, but still better than usual. 😀

    Triplets sound very nice.

    • khatzumoto
      February 2, 2013 at 14:00

      That’s weird coz I HATE this post and almost didn’t put it up, but I guess you always did enjoy the nuts-and-bolts stuff, J-dawg…I shall keep that in mind.

      I hate giving detailed advice because too many people seem to try to follow it too closely and then end up hurting themselves. Or you get some people who analyze and argue it to death. Also, by the time I’m done giving it, I’ve usually obsoleted it already…I guess none of those are really bad things, though…every tool ever invented gets misused by some segment of the population…

      Lol…I have eras now 🙂

  3. February 3, 2013 at 13:17

    Thank you for another good tip!

    I am an aspiring polyglot and a firm believer in the power of 3-week habit formation.



  4. February 3, 2013 at 16:26

    This was a nice wake-up call in a sense because I had daily “goals” like “Read 30 minutes” and so on. Slashed them from my notes and put “Read 5 minutes of JoJo” “Read 5 minutes of Haruhi” “Play Persona 4 for 20 minutes” and so on. Extremely specific goals are far less “intimidating” and a lot more interesting than the generic ones.

  5. Pingfa
    February 5, 2013 at 06:51

    “nothing’s more painful than doggedly continuing to go for something you don’t even want any more just because it’s something you thought you wanted, that you thought mattered, back in the past”
    That it is, that it is. It’s a very strange behavioural quirk that applies to most humans. Even after it has become obvious that something has served its purpose (or not), even though they know it to be counterproductive, they insist on being a slave to it because of some false sense of identity they’ve set for themselves.
    Well, either that or humans are just plain stupid. A baby chimp touches something and gets burned, it stays clear of it. A baby human never ceases to be stupid.
    Which is why the only way to improve a human’s behaviour is by improving its environment.
    Thus, ask not what you can do for your environment, but what your environment can do for you. 😉

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