It’s the year 2020, a catchy number, and the start of a new decade. It’s a natural time to turn over a new leaf and start up some new habits. Lose weight, get organized, write that novel. But if you’re like most humans, after a few weeks most New Years resolutions have gone the way of holiday wrapping paper. A bold proclamation is now just a broken Hanukahmass toy sitting sadly in the corner. So why bother? Well, for some folks, they work. And as readers of A Dude Abikes know, I’ve had a fair bit of success with some changes. So here’s what I’m doing — and not doing — in 2020.
But first, with no apologies given to any conservative or Republican readers who still support #45: It’s also a year in which we the people can hope for electing a new president in the United States. In 11 short months we can choose a qualified politician who is not misogynistic, racist, homo- and trans-phobic, anti-immigrant who denies global warming and agreements.
Somehow we elected a Daddy Warbucks type-A person instead of someone who actually believes in laws and follows them to improve America’s image and standing in the world, rather than degrade and debase it as Tinyhands Orangehead has. It’s embarrassing enough to be an American, so let’s hope a majority votes him out (oh wait, a majority did vote for Democrats three times in recent memory but it didn’t matter). Still, one can hope.
As for resolving to do things better at a personal level, I can thank my brother for introducing me to James Clear, who writes knowledgeably about habits. I have successfully managed to establish several streaks that are fairly impressive, in my opinion:
- Daily yoga practice of 30 minutes (6 years beginning 12/6/13).
- Regular bicycling averaging 13.4 miles per day (4 years beginning 1/1/16).
- Daily walk of 30 minutes (2 years beginning 1/1/18*).
- Daily writing of blog or book 30 minutes or more (2 years beginning 1/1/18).
- Eliminated 99% of flour products from my diet (2 years beginning 1/1/18).
Shortly after I started the yoga, I missed two days due to a medical thing. So I moved the anniversary date forward by two days. I missed one walk last year, but many days I walked more than 30 minutes. But the point is I got back on the horse – without self-pity or recrimination, which is key. Still, this is a pretty impressive list of achievements if you ask me, and well, many people. Keeping these streaks alive takes more commitment, dedication and will power than I ever thought possible. Any day now, I might miss a day and it won’t be a streak, but I’ll resume it the next day or as soon as possible. Life will go on.
I’m not suggesting that daily habits will work for many people, but doing something regularly has its benefits. Maybe it’s three times a week, every other day, or some other measurement. For me, stopping seems like an easy way to quit the habit altogether. Or I may choose to end the practice because it’s not working for me. (I’m talking about you, avoiding eating processed grains.) And that would be okay. These things are not written in stone.
The trouble with beginning any new behavior is getting over that hump of starting, and then sustaining it. Some people claim you need three weeks. Others say three months. Some say longer. Whatever the behavioral scientists say may work for one person may not serve another. So you have to choose, and choose wisely. If the answer to the following four questions is yes, you may as well go for it and see what happens. It may take several tries, or it might not stick. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
- Is it something you really want to do?
- Do you envision yourself doing it?
- Are the obstacles to doing it surmountable?
- Can you give up X, Y and Z to make it happen?
For me, I’ve made no outright proclamations that I’m doing X or Y. A recent article in some magazine or another suggested that telling people you’re doing something actually can backfire. Maybe so, but having accountability is key for some people. Having a workout buddy or study partner, for example, can really help. Again, what works for you is all you need to concern yourself with. If you’re flying solo like me, you’ll have to find internal motivation instead of leaning on the crutch of a spouse.
While I’m not pressuring myself into absolutely doing these, thus setting myself up for failure if I don’t do them, these are the new habits I’ve started:
- Flossing daily (I began this 12/1/19 and missed one day, but am counting it for this year).
- Doing five minutes of meditation at the end of each yoga session.
- Being grateful for three things every day. They should be things you had a hand in – “I’m grateful the sky is blue” doesn’t work). Writing it down and actually feeling the gratitude are also keys.
- Keeping track of all expenses — I did this half of December but lost steam halfway through, so I need to find a cell phone application or other system.
- Reading more often, hopefully daily. Currently I’m into Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. He says reading frequently and a lot is required to be a good writer.
- Generally trying to eat more vegetables and less sugar, sleep earlier and more, and possibly join an affordable gym to diversify my exercise namely adding swimming (and the hot tub).
The biggest goal for me has to be creating income. I hope this can be accomplished by becoming a freelance writer and by publishing my book. In the meantime I need to figure out other revenue streams. A regular full-time job will interfere with my creative dreams, though, and I’ve not had success finding temporary gigs yet. Using the so-called Law of Attraction hasn’t paid off yet in meaningful ways, so I must be doing it wrong, right?
Whatever habits you may choose to adopt, I wish you well. Whether you start on January 1, February 2, or another day, it doesn’t really matter. Start small, be realistic, and if you miss a day — which you will eventually — start again, gently. Change is hard, but it is possible. If I can do it, you can, too. Best wishes for a happy New Year! I’ve coined a phrase, a mantra if you like: “2020, the Year of Plenty” (and a new president). I’ll end with a link to a very long transcription of a Dharma talk by renowned Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Habit of Happiness.”
Come back Saturday for my wrap-up of stats from 2019, in which I kicked some ass on the bicycle, plus a visual feast for your eyes, the likes of which you’ve never seen here at ADudeAbikes.com!
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