Why January the 1st is not the best day for your New Year resolution

by sophie on December 29, 2007 · 5 comments

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January the first is a rubbish time to make a resolution. Anybody who has a gym membership and uses it knows deep down that this is true. In two weeks time classes will be full to bursting and there will be fisticuffs over who was next in line for that stepper that has just become free. The regular gym goers will be annoyed (though as self-appointed exercise evangelists we will do our best to be encouraging and welcoming) but in the end we will sit tight, knowing that come March it will be back to business as usual.

The first of January falls at the end of a long few weeks of parties, family gatherings and generally eating and drinking far too much. Hopefully you’ve had fun, though maybe some of it has been a bit stressful? Maybe you feel a little stretched around the middle, tired possibly and a bit bloated? If you are lucky enough to start the New Year with a hangover you might be feeling a bit down too (alcohol is a depressant as well as giving you a thumping headache). With all that it’s no wonder you feel like you need to make some kind of New Year’s resolution! But is January the 1st the best day to give your new endeavour the enthusiastic, thoughtful and positive start it deserves?

Make a Groundhog Day resolution
If you know that you need to make some serious changes to your diet or want to make a concerted effort to eat more sustainably next year then it is worth considering making a Groundhog Day resolution instead, starting your new regime on February the 2nd, well away from all of the sore heads and busy-ness of January the 1st. The Groundhog day resolution is an idea developed by productivity blogger David Seah for setting and reviewing his personal and business goals, but it is also a very user-friendly distillation of the techniques proven to work by people who have been successful in changing their health and diet behaviour:

  • January is yours to gather your thoughts, recover from Christmas and generally make sure that you have everything in place. Research your options to figure out what will work best for you, enlist support among family and friends and become confident by making sure you have the skills you will need.
  • A regular progress review is already built-in – you are scheduled to meet with yourself for a progress report on the 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9, 10/10, 11/11 finishing off with a review of the whole process on 12/12 at the end of the year.
  • The built-in reviews recognise that change is a process; if you have managed to set just one goal that will last you for the whole year then chances are it is too vague to be useful. Your goals for this year will be living, evolving entities. If you set your sights too high in February then when you review on the third of March you can downsize to something more manageable (much better than the conventional January 1st resolution which would probably be lost in the mists of time by the third of March). Similarly if you achieve what you want to very quickly you have the choice of concentrating on maintenance for the next twelve months or building. And don’t be afraid to change tack mid-way; while you might have started off with the aim of losing weight this may naturally grow into something else such as improving your diet quality or learning to cook in a new way.
  • Get yourself a notebook handy – you will need this to remember the details between your monthly reviews and we also know that committing goals to paper makes you much more likely to succeed. And for those of you who are bloggers just think how motivating committing to a regular online review of your goals will be!
  • While it isn’t inherent in the process an important additional instruction is not to attempt too much. Picking three areas to work on is plenty to keep you interested without being overwhelmed. Once you are sure that you have got one of those three nailed you can always add something new.

Like the sound of this? Read David’s full post about what Groundhog Day resolutions are all about and then check out Corrie Haffley’s end of year review from 12/12/2007 where she talks about her successful year of diet and fitness goals (both David and Corrie’s site contain their full year of GDR reviews if you search for them).
Here are two important tips for January while you are waiting to get cracking on the 2nd of February:

Slip back into routine
At the first opportunity that you have get back into your normal routines for eating, cooking and shopping. While you might be beating yourself up about how crap you feel now, chances are that your diet wasn’t all that bad at the start of December. It is what you have been eating over the last few weeks that is the culprit and January the first is the day to stop that. Try getting back to normal and you might be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you feel like your old self again.

Beware the detox cure
When the January magazines hit the shelves you can be sure that some pretty spiffy sounding magic detox cures will be in them, as surely as there will be ads for holidays and Easter eggs. If this stuff was really that good don’t you think they’d be selling it all year round? What your body needs right now is normal healthy foods in moderate quantities. A bit of water might not go amiss, but it definitely doesn’t need some strange powder or tablets to be taken three times a day. Visit the Sense about Science website for commentary from some very sensible people about why detox is a load of rubbish.

I hope David’s clever idea inspires some of you to try a different kind of resolution this year. Bloggers feel free to leave a comment here if you do decide to give it a whirl and will be writing about it on your own blog. Best of all, a Groundhog Day Resolution means that your New Years Day is now free for more important matters like visiting family and friends, having a bracing walk outside or simply nursing a hangover!


Deb January 2, 2008 at 19:41

Sophie this is such a GREAT idea! I was just being my usual couch potato this morning writing in my journal all the things I would like to accomplish this year. After I looked at my list I thought, oh sure and scratched a few off the list. But I am going to try your Groundhog Day “event”!
Happy New Year To You!

Johanna January 4, 2008 at 04:38

I love the groundhog day resolution – I am not one for new year’s resolutions – but I think we make little resolutions during the whole year and these are much more useful than the big statements! thanks and happy new year

Sophie January 4, 2008 at 21:58

Hi Deb, that’s great that you are going to give it a go – I’ll look forward to reading all about it! p.s definitely a good plan to scratch a few things off your list – it’s just so overwhelming to feel you have to tackle a whole page full
Johanna, I definitely agree with you, I always go by little changes as and when I need them, but I love the groundhog day idea for when you need that bit of help with something important to make sure that you keep reviewing how things are going

Hippolyra February 19, 2008 at 12:05

I love this idea and have put my Groundhog Days into my diary.
My only resolution this year is to look after meself as that covers everything that is good for self, health and soul.

Sophie February 19, 2008 at 18:59

Hi Hippolyra – that sounds like a really good plan putting the dates in your diary. Even if you’ve got a fairly broad resolution having it written down will give you that regular reminder. Hope it helps!
Oh and David Seah whose idea this all is has some excellent new forms on his website for people who like to get something down on paper

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