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Bee with to-do list and signs of the zodiac

Well, everyone, Happy New Year!

2023 is gone and 2024 is ticking, and it’s the traditional time of year to be RESOLUTE. We’ve written about the science of this stuff before. Katy Milkman calls it the Fresh Start Effect, and I am absolutely not immune. You can find my New Year’s Resolution: Ride or Die thread on our forum right now.

Plus, the more people I tell that I’m totally going to average 6 yoghurts a week in 2024, the more likely I’ll succeed, right?

But can we take this further? Why let New Year’s hog all the new-leaf-turning? I had so many goals in mind, but it felt like starting them all at once would surely doom me to failure. At the same time, waiting for 2025 felt silly, but I need some kind of push to start on these ideas.

And surely there’s another calendar division that can maybe be just as powerful a psychological marker, giving me, say, twelve fresh starts in a year…


Lightbulb moment!

So how about… New Month’s Resolutions?

The idea is that each month of 2024, I’ll try out a new goal. At the start of the month, I’ll create something new, set the rate to something relatively ambitious, and maybe even risky, but set the end date to the end of the month. Something that might be difficult to stick to all the way through the year seems much less daunting if I’m only going to do it for a month. And this way I don’t start all my brand new shiny ideas for goals at once, get overwhelmed, and run away — but I don’t have to wait for 2025.

This idea seemed good enough that I’ve created a thread for it on the forum, so that everyone can join me in the experiment. Wanna jump aboard?

Come on in, the water’s fine

If you’re not ready yet, let’s see if I can convince you of the power of this idea. I think everyone has tons of things they could be doing that feel difficult, that would need work to establish as a habit. Or ideas that they’re going to get round to someday. Imagine having a prompt to just dust one of those off and actually try it, give it a go, take a little risk, not just once a year but a new one each month.

There’s not so much pressure to get it right straight away — these can be experiments, because even if one fails, you have eleven more chances! And personally I’m willing to bet that I’m going to create some goals I can stick to in the long-term, or at least learn important things about how to make those goals work for me. (Or not. It’s fine if some of them never do!)

For me, the year’s starting out with a goal I haven’t tried on Beeminder before. It’s been a while since I managed to fit exercise into my schedule on a regular basis, for a bunch of reasons. Not all of them are akratic, but honestly by now it’s at least half down to akrasia.

So my first goal is a way to slowly open up some time in my schedule for doing something: each day, I have to hold a good-form plank for as long as I can, working up from the very easiest baby planks on forearms and knees to… whatever ends up being the most difficult plank I can manage by the end of January! (And I’m already pretty sure I’d like to keep this goal in some form after January.)

Nicky’s plank goal

I have other ideas for goals: taking a walk during my lunch break, getting back to starting my day with a bit of reading, setting up my treadmill again and actually using it, getting a new fitness tracker and actually using it, having a set time each day to read without distractions with my phone in airplane mode, using up some of my postcard sets by sending more postcards on Postcrossing… With eleven more opportunities coming up, I get to try all kinds of things!

I’ve even created a sort of meta-goal for this, so that I won’t forget to start a new goal as the new month rolls round. I spent some time in the graph editor making it pretty, so it steps up only at the beginning of each month, but you could just have a goal set to roughly 1/30 per day, add data for January now, and it’ll come due again about the right time.

Nicky’s meta-goal for New Month’s Resolutions

Look, we’re all doing it!

Other folks on the forum thread are trying things out as well: enbee’s trying out a more extreme version of an existing goal, felixm’s trying out doing a little check-in after meditation sessions, poisson’s trying out beeminding using a waterpik to floss — beeminding what you buy is an Officially Approved Beemindery Activity! Get anything for Christmas that you really ought to be using…?

I won’t list everyone’s goals here, but hopefully that gives you a taste for it and sparks a few ideas of your own!

And the beauty of it is, if it doesn’t work out, it’s only for this month. That moment of enthusiasm, that feeling of a brand new start and a chance to start something new… this year, that won’t be confined to January 1st. In reality, it never was. The best time to start a new goal is now. But sometimes we need a little push to be inventive, to take a risk, to push ourselves a little further.

Twelve little pushes sound good to me. Are you in?

P.S. If you find this later, well, there’s no time like the present!