Don't Start Any Resolution Until You Do This One Thing

August 23, 2023


Many of us want to put 2020 firmly behind us with new plans.

Yet, we also know most New Year’s resolutions return to the Land of Good Intentions as early as February.

But I have good news for you: you don't have to be part of the sad statistics.

Start by doing this one thing: know who you are.

That's the one thing? Yes, it is.  And no, I’m not being facetious.

Those Greek philosophers really knew what they were talking about.  (On an aside, it turns out Socrates might not have been the one who said this but that it was an inscription found in the ruins of Delphi. Nevertheless, the idea came from thinkers in ancient Greece.)

Being clear on who you are, and who you’re not, is one of the most effective tools you can use to set yourself apart from the crowd and maintain your new habits.

Why? Many of us rush into goals that we know are good without considering how we would continue beyond the first few days or weeks. If you have started any new habit, you know that the optimism at the beginning of that process feels amazing.

You also know that you cannot count on being buoyed by hope and good intentions alone as you continue. That's when things get tough.  That's when people give up.

That's also when your pre-planning can make critical differences.

a photo of two lanes in a swimming pool and one lap swimmer

Knowing who you are before embarking on any new journey influences obvious decisions, such as:

  • not choosing lap-swimming at your local gym that uses bleach to clean its pool if you have strong aversions to chemical smells,
  • not planning early morning runs when you’re a night owl and your knees hurt.

Now go deeper beyond your likes and dislikes, way deeper.

What is your identity?

Are you an orderly person? Are you an indoor enthusiast? Are you a science buff? Are you a free spirit? Are you a super-saver? Are you an entrepreneur? Are you a rule-follower? Are you a rainbow unicorn in a sea of brown horses?

If you are a foodie and a carnivore, you will feel the deprivation of going vegan means much more deeply than someone for whom eating is mere necessity and maybe even a waste of time.

a picture of a perfectly roasted rack of lamb
 picture of a laptop and sparse furnishing on a desk

If your mind thrives on a certain amount of chaos and you decide to clear your desk completely every night, not only will you resent the task but you will not work at your optimal level with an empty desk.

If you consider yourself a musician, you know that frequent practice is a part of that
identity and you don't have to keep deciding whether you should practice. If you are
a writer, you will sit and put words down even when you muse is nowhere to be found.
If you consider yourself a minimalist, avoiding online shopping isn’t as hard.

photo of a child sitting by a window, playing the violin

So, who are you?

Before you buy those new running shoes or new planner, before you announce to the world, your intention to meditate every day, and definitely before you start imagining the new and improved you, get to know, really know who you are now.

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