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11 Oct

Celebrate New Year's more often


Datum: 2017-10-11 10:39

Regard­less what you think of New Year’s res­o­lu­tions, they are pret­ty com­mon. And for good rea­son too. To many peo­ple the new year con­sti­tutes a nat­ur­al start­ing point for some­thing new. A recent­ly pub­lished study by Dai, Milk­man and Riis at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia sug­gests that the rea­son why so many of us keep think­ing of New Years res­o­lu­tions is that the turn of the year is such a clear divider between before” and now”. We resolve to change and behave more to our lik­ing as soon as the new year begins.

We are bet­ter now than before
It seems as if we often ascribe our less con­struc­tive habits and qual­i­ties to a for­mer self, and the more desir­able behav­iors we want to devel­op to our present self, which might come of use in our busi­ness. We used to be a busi­ness which did that” (did things in that less con­struc­tive man­ner that we now want to change), but now we are a busi­ness that does this” (the more desir­able alternative).

Have more New Years in a year
It is such a shame that it is twelve months until the next New Year, since we so sel­dom get to relaunch our­selves and start afresh. We are of course free to make a fresh start at any giv­en moment, but if we want to use the fact that we some­how still per­ceive New Years as a very dis­tinct divider between now and then — how could we expe­ri­ence the same effect through­out the year? Well, we could start by hav­ing New Years more often.

In the study I men­tioned the researchers found that even though the new year is a par­tic­u­lar­ly clear mile­stone, which it becomes since we for instance are remind­ed of it every time we write today’s date, there are many oth­er occa­sions that could poten­tial­ly serve as a new begin­ning as well, such as:

  • When we turn 30, 4050, …
  • The first day at your new job
  • The day the new orga­ni­za­tion­al struc­ture of the com­pa­ny becomes official
  • The first date of the split finan­cial year
  • When you get a new office
  • When you have fin­ished the old project and com­mence a new one
  • The first day back at work after the ski trip, East­er hol­i­day, after your vaca­tion, or some­thing else

If we want to make a change and estab­lish some form of bet­ter habit for our struc­ture, we can always find a mile­stone of some kind and set the new habit into action after it passes.

Do this
If you want to try and see if a clear mile­stone would make it eas­i­er to relaunch or have a fresh start, then do this:

  1. Choose a habit you want to begin with. Per­haps it is being on time to more of your meet­ings, using the activ­i­ty-based advan­tages of the office more then you usu­al­ly do, check your inbox for new emails less fre­quent­ly, pri­or­i­tize more con­scious­ly, or some­thing com­plete­ly different.

  2. Take a look in the cal­en­dar and find an occa­sion or event that can act as your New Year, your mile­stone in time at which you begin the new régime. The greater the con­trast and break this event con­sti­tutes to your every day life, the more effec­tive the mile­stone will be in dis­tin­guish­ing the old from the new. Events that occur for the first time will be per­ceived as more mean­ing­ful than those which hap­pen reg­u­lar­ly (such as turn­ing 40 com­pared to 31).

  3. Write down your vow” to your­self, mean­ing, what you have decid­ed to do in a new way after the New Year”, and that will be sig­nif­i­cant­ly dif­fer­ent from how you used to do things.

  4. Take a few min­utes to think about what you need to do now to pre­pare for behav­ing in that new way after the mile­stone. Will you need to remind your­self of the new thing or work­ing method once in a while? Cre­ate a tem­plate? Make a cheat-sheet? Rearrange things you usu­al­ly have right in front of you when you work? Do some­thing reg­u­lar­ly from now on?

  5. For­mu­late to-do-tasks that describe what you need to do, or make the changes or prepa­ra­tions immediately.

  6. If you fall back into old habits and fail” to keep your promise to your­self, iden­ti­fy anoth­er nat­ur­al and dis­tinc­tive mile­stone and start over. Remem­ber, you don’t have to wait twelve months for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to try again.

Bet­ter and bet­ter for every year” that passes
If you cel­e­brate the New Year, start afresh and have anoth­er go at what­ev­er change you want to make more fre­quent­ly than every twelve months, you will have many more oppor­tu­ni­ties to refine your work meth­ods. It will not mat­ter as much if you fall back into old habits, since you can just get back up and begin again. By hav­ing to start over with the new habit again and again, you prac­tice your resilience and abil­i­ty to get back on it, which is an invalu­able skill to have in an increas­ing­ly change­ful world. And with every restart, you refine your work method fur­ther, which will ben­e­fit both you per­son­al­ly and the orga­ni­za­tion you work in.

What’s your way?
How did you man­age to keep a New Years res­o­lu­tion you made? Did you have some spe­cial trick that made it eas­i­er to stick with it and see it through? Leave a com­ment and share!

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