You Should Start Practicing New Year’s Resolutions Now

Stick with us here — consider the next few weeks/days a dry run for a habit you’ll start the New Year fully engaged with.

To stick with (someone): phrasal verb, to stay near someone to learn something/for protection
 e.g., Stick with me and you’ll be safe; The apprentice stuck with the master to learn the skills

Dry run – noun; a practice exercise, rehearsal, or trial.
 e.g., We will do a dry run a day before the conference

New Year’s resolutions seem like a great way to take stock of the last year and set goals for the next one. Unfortunately, by February around 80 percent of people have failed to stick to theirs. Life-changing commitments are just hard to, well, commit to. If most people can’t stay at it for six weeks, something must be wrong with the whole process.

Take stock of – idiom; to carefully think about something to decide what to do next
 e.g., You need to take stock of the situation and plan accordingly. 
          The company needs to take stock of their profits

To stick to – phrasal verb; continue doing something especially when it is difficult
 e.g., The suspect stuck to his story despite repeated interrogation

Present Perfect
Structure: Subject + have/has + past participle of the verb

 Used here to describe:

  • An action that happens before another point (‘By February’) regularly.
     By February, around 80 percent of people have failed to stick to their resolutions.

Also used to describe:

  • An action that was completed in the very recent past/at the moment of speaking

e.g., I have eaten. Usually ‘just’ is used: I have just eaten.

  • An action that started in the past and continues in the present
     e.g., We haven’t seen her for months
  • An action taking place in a time period that hasn’t ended
     e.g., It has snowed a lot this year

First Conditional
We use this to talk about realistic situations in the present or the future – the condition must be a realistic situation.

 Structure: If + present simple, (then) + will/can/must + verb
 If most people can’t stay at it for six weeks, (then) something must be wrong
 Other e.g., If I get the job, we will celebrate
                     If it breaks, you can fixt it

It starts with the resolutions themselves. Both wishy-washy promises, like “lose some weight” or “write a book,” and over-the-top commitments, like “drop 20 pounds by the start of March” or “become a New York Times best seller,” are bad kinds of New Year’s resolutions. They’re either too vague to be useful or too hard to get done, so they don’t motivate you at all. Instead, resolutions work best when they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

Wishy-washy – adjective; lacking character or determination, being ineffective
 e.g., His leadership was wishy-washy; He gave wishy-washy answers during the interview

Vague – adjective; unclear or uncertain meaning; not clearly described or known
 e.g., He could make out a vague figure in the darkness; I have a vague memory of the accident

Either X or Y

‘Either … or …’ is used as a conjunction (to connect clauses/parts of a sentence) – it is a correlative conjunction.
 It is used to express alternatives or a choice between two things. It uses a verb in singular form.
 E.g., Either you or John has to finish the report before 5pm.
          I can have either tea or coffee.

And while making good resolutions is important, you still have to stick to them — which is hard. One way, however, to give yourself a leg up come Jan. 1 is to stop waiting around and start practicing your New Year’s resolutions right now. Here’s why.

Why people fail to stick to New Year’s resolutions

There’s no single reason that most people fail to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. It’s a combination of factors and life just getting in the way.

A big part of it is that many people take on too much, too fast. By resolving to eat nothing but salads, run five miles to work every day and get three gym sessions in a week — plus write that novel they always wanted to — in January, the month right after the holidays, they are setting themselves up to fail dramatically, burn out and finish the month binge-watching Netflix and binge-eating Twinkies.

Another reason is that, at least at the start, sticking to resolutions tends to stink. One 2016 study from the University of Chicago found that the biggest predictor that people would keep to their long-term goals was whether they received an immediate reward. Delayed gratification just wasn’t much of a motivator. Everyone swears they’re going to the gym for the health of their future self, but if they’re not enjoying it in the moment or seeing quick results, they tend to drop out. Those first few weeks of doing something new are almost always the worst. You’re unfit, unpracticed, and just unable to cope. Combine that with the often-miserable January weather, post-holiday blues and work stress, and almost nobody is having any fun until at least St. Patrick’s Day.

Zero Conditional
 We use this to talk about permanent truths, scientific facts, general habits etc.
 Structure: If + present simple, (then) + present simple
 If they are not enjoying it, (then) they tend to drop out – general habit of people
 Other e.g. If you don’t drink water, you get thirsty          – permanent truth
                    If you heat water to a 100oC, it boils                – scientific fact
A lot of people also approach New Year’s resolutions with an all-or-nothing attitude. They go straight from zero to 100 with no warm-up or consultation with reality. If someone hasn’t run in years, resolving to run five days a week is a ludicrous goal — it’s practically unattainable. And when they (entirely predictably) don’t meet it, instead of reassessing their goal, they chalk it up as a failure. There’s always next year, right?

Ludicrous – adjective; so absurd, foolish, or unreasonable that it is funny or amusing
 e.g., Thinking you can abolish poverty singlehandedly is a ludicrous idea

It’s a quirk of human nature that we’re so obsessed with these hard start lines. Every exercise program begins on a Monday or the first of next month — or on Jan. 1. It’s understandable: The New Year is a good time to reflect and set goals. But it also makes things harder. When we mess up, we tend not to get back up and continue where we failed; we reset at the next hard start line.

If you have found yourself falling into any of these binds, you’re not alone. But let’s consider a solution.

Why you should start now

No marathon runner ever steps up to the start line in a big race without putting in the training miles. He or she has been practicing for months, if not years. You should do the same with your New Year’s resolutions. It will make it much easier to stick to them.

Decide that, after finishing this article, you’re going to start practicing your New Year’s resolutions now. Use the remaining weeks of the year as a trial period. It doesn’t matter if you mess up or miss a day, you haven’t committed to anything yet — you literally can’t fail.

By starting now, you will get a much deeper understanding of what you’re resolving to do. It’s better to find out in December that a five-mile run is a bit optimistic for your current fitness level, so you can dial it back and start with two-mile runs in January. And to make sticking to your New Year’s resolution even easier, with a few weeks of occasional warm-up jogs, you won’t be starting from scratch on Jan. 1. You’ll already have gotten over the worst of the starting period. You might even be beginning to see results.

Whatever your resolutions, there is a lot to be said for using the next few weeks before the holidays as a practice period. If you’re planning to eat healthily in January, use the time to find meals that you love and that are easy to cook. If you want to write a journal or take a photo every day, start now, and sticking to your resolution will already be part of your daily routine. If you want to write the next Great American Novel or Hollywood hit, get the plot worked out and the outline written, in the New Year, you’ll be ready to go.

And, if you miss a few days or binge over the holiday period, what does it matter? You’re just practicing. The big event doesn’t start until Jan. 1. And by then, you’ll be ready.