2 min read

Why I stopped making new year's resolutions and make them in the summer instead

Stop trying to change major life habits during the time of year with the worst conditions
Why I stopped making new year's resolutions and make them in the summer instead
Photo by Nattu Adnan / Unsplash

Sustain issue #14 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

Year after year, we make a big deal of New Year’s Resolutions. And the only thing that’s as certain as making resolutions is losing them several weeks later.

Why?

Because, if you think about it, January 1st is a terrible time to make resolutions in the northern hemisphere. It’s dark, cold, and the light of summer feels distant. Of course, we’re not motivated to make (and keep) these life changes.

Several years ago while taking a summer vacation, I outlined some core pillars for myself. How I wanted to eat. How I wanted to exercise. How I wanted to spend the time I had agency over. And how I defined success.

While there have been shifts and plenty of slips, what I outlined that summer has largely stayed in tact. For years, not for weeks. That’s after plenty of years of failed New Year’s Resolutions.

So, what’s the only difference between years of failed attempts at New Year’s Resolutions and now several years of largely sustained healthy habits that keep me energized and allow me to work without burnout?

I firmly believe the fact that I started lifestyle refinements in summer — when I feel more energy, when there’s more daylight, and when the world feels like your oyster — has a whole lot to do with it.

Now, this theory might be a bit oversimplified, but modern research suggests I might be on to something. Studies find it takes two plus months to operationalize a new habit. So it’s no wonder we struggle mightily to implement lifestyle habits in the last two months of winter, when we are burned out from harsh weather and short days. These are terrible conditions to operationalize positive habits like eating well, hitting the gym, and spending restorative time not in front of a screen.

So instead of trying to force yourself to make large-scale change when you’re wired to be dormant, why don’t you flip the script?

Now that we’ve finally reached Summer (yay!), see about making Summer Solstice Resolutions. In these next 2-3 months see what principles you can apply to your life. By doing this now, you’ll have a better chance of making your habit the new default for yourself come Autumn when your energy starts to power down for the Winter.

But come on easy. Aim for good not perfect.

At a sustainable pace,

-Grant


Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to end burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) who suffered deep burnout and came back from it with no help of the hacky advice out there.

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