I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. Resolving to make dramatic changes with a flip of the calendar usually does nothing more than set people up for frustration and failure. It’s often said that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, but that’s simply a common myth. According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology it actually takes an average of 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic. In other words, if you keep your New Year’s resolution until at least March 7, it has a good chance of sticking, but how many diets and exercise programs are abandoned long before that?
In spite of knowing this, I’ve decided to make one resolution this year. I’m not happy with the amount of time that I spend on the internet and I plan to do something about it. I often wonder what my retirement would have looked like if it had happened before the advent of the internet. Quite different, I’m sure. It’s not that the hours I spend online are all a waste of time. I use the internet for a wide variety of purposes including reading the news, communicating with friends and family around the world, editing, mentoring, and of course, writing my blog, but how many times a day do I really need to check emails, Facebook and my blog stats and what could I be doing instead?
I could simply resolve to spend less time on the net, but that’s a vague and unmeasurable goal. I don’t even know how much time I spend online now, so how would I know if I was being successful? And what do I want to do instead? Back in my teaching days, I learned all about SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based or Trackable. With that in mind, in 2017, I resolve to read at least two books every month.
I love reading. I always have, but that’s one thing that’s suffered as I’ve gradually started spending more and more time online. I’m sure that I could quite easily read more than two books a month, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure nor do I want this to be a gruelling exercise. I simply want to make better, more enjoyable use of some of my time. I’ve already picked out the first three books that I plan to read, two novels and one non-fiction. I also have a list of several other books to begin ordering in through our provincial interlibrary loan system.
Now, what about you? Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, why not share one or more of yours in the comments section.