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Like lots of folks I made some new year resolutions. I have heaps. There is so much about me that wants improving just ask Someone hohoho. Alas! Babylon! I didn’t do well with the 2019 ones so they are being carried over into 2020. Let’s hope I do a better job this time. I think I will for I am changing how I go about doing them.

People continually fail breaking bad habits and establishing good ones because they go about it wrong. First and foremost there is no good evidence to support ‘Willpower’ is what makes or breaks a resolution.  Habits (good and bad) are best achieved through repetition over time until it gets into your muscle memory as my dance teacher used to call it.  

One of my successful 2019 resolutions was daily language lessons. I did this not by willpower or motivation but by structure. Every night at 9PM my phone goes off. The alarm is telling me ‘Whatever you are doing, cut it out. Go do your Spanish and German lessons.”  This isn’t dependent on my motivation nor a desire to do so.  I give myself five minutes and if that’s all I do well it is better than nothing. Nearly always I go over five minutes.  Not once have I ever regretted stopping life to do so.  By now language lessons have become engrained enough that by 7PM I am already thinking about them. When I do I usually start lessons right then. Motivation has come as the reward and not as the instigator of my industry. 

Where I failed in 2019 is when I didn’t have reminders or fixed days or times to do something.  Example: I wanted to make a ‘soup of the month’; I made only nine. This year soup cooking is down as ‘every 20th of the month’ written on a calendar I see every day to remind me it’s coming up.  I wanted to listen to twelve “Great Courses” in 2019; I finished none of them. I would start one when I thought of it and usually not the same one. Now they are scheduled as a specific one assigned to a month.*

My new year resolutions are no longer nebulous rubbish along the line of ‘read more’ or ‘lose weight”. They are “SMART”: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. 

In a few days I tackle ‘The Bucket List’ for I don’t recall having achieved any last year nor can I remember what they are.  I got through the year more or less working and existing and not much else. That way I am not going to see Norway, Ireland, the northern lights or make coq au vin.  I have hope this year I can knock off at least one of these.  Fingers cross this works. 


*January’s course is “The history of The Peloponnesian War”. It ends badly. 

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January 2020

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018