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Life

The September Slump

Didn’t we leave resolutions behind in February? Why would I want to think about New Years resolutions in the September Slump?!  This is about reflecting and readjusting, not just prepping early for next years failures.

Resolution data (hows that for a boring header)

The most common resolutions are: lose weight, improve diet, exercise more and save money, according to Discover Happy Habits. Timeless. Why else was Adam eating that apple?

Most of us, choose not to make resolutions. A small percentage of those who do, manage to keep them. A quarter have marginal success and another small percentage fail on all accounts. No surprises here. That feeling of resolution failure just in time for panic buying roses on Valentines Day is common, not just you.

Our failures are a result of two main reasons: failing to track progress and forgetting about the resolutions. What gets measured, gets managed. What were your resolutions for the year? If you can remember (regardless of current success) do you want to restart and focus on them for what’s left of the year?

Develop atomic habits

When we talk about ‘resolutions,’ we’re often talking about habits. The current authority figure on habit formation is James Clear.  Clears’ book Atomic Habits, states the following:

  • Don’t over-estimate the tiny changes (1% per day. That works out as 37% by the end of the year.)
  • Be concerned with current trajectory not results.
  • You get what you repeat.
  • Goals set direction but systems make progress.
  • Hearing your bad habits spoken aloud makes the consequences seem more real.
  • The difference between a good day and a bad day is often a few productive and healthy choices made at decisive moments.
  • Many people think they lack motivation, when what they really lack is clarity.
  • Join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior. Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have.
  • The costs of your good habits are in the present. The costs of your bad habits are in the future.
  • If your reward for exercising is eating a bowl of ice cream, then you’re casting votes for conflicting identities, and it ends up being a wash. Instead, maybe your reward is a massage.
  • The mere act of tracking a behavior can spark the urge to change it. People who kept a daily food log lost twice as much weight as those who did not.
  • If I miss one day, a simple rule: never miss twice. Missing once is an accident. Missing twice is the start of a new habit.
  • Going to the gym for five minutes may not improve your performance, but it reaffirms your identity.
  • Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way. Professionals know what is important to them and work toward it with purpose; amateurs get pulled off course by the urgencies of life.
Where to next?

You’ve looked at your resolutions, now you must develop a system to implement them. I decided to write each day, with a focus on learning how to write copy. That lasted two months, at a stretch. Now, my system is to set a one hour timer, each day after lunch. Read a few pages of “Everybody Writes.” Then implement the material in my writing. This can be a text message, blog or journal entry. Reflect and repeat.

The ultimate purpose of habits is to solve the problems of life with as little energy and effort as possible – James Clear

Failure

The mere idea of failure has prevented me from starting in the part. No more! This is a flawed way of thinking. There should be no shame when you’ve worked hard, focused and learnt. There should only be shame if you don’t start at all.

The September Slump need not turn into the December Decimation. Become conscious of your goals and start again. If not. There’s always next year right?