Why Make Your New Year’s Resolutions at New Year’s?
My least favorite day at the fitness center is January 2, when a bunch of folks start to implement their New Year’s resolutions. My favorite cardio machine will be occupied by someone who has forgotten how to sweat. Newbies will sit forever on the most popular machines, trying to recover for one more set. The last week of December, however, is dead. Even some of the regulars substitute eggnog and cookies for the treadmill. That would be a great time to start an exercise program, but people think January 1 is a magic day when they leave all their bad habits behind and embrace a life of exercise and saving.
Saving money is a habit like exercise. It needs to be practiced and reinforced every week. It isn’t something to try, then give up because it isn’t fun. Most things that are good for you are not fun and most things that are fun aren’t good for you. People who put fun first die young and broke. They may have had good intentions, and probably set many New Year’s resolutions, but they waited until New Year’s because they wanted a few more days of fun.
By January 9, things at the fitness center will be back to normal. The folks that waited for the magic day will have given up and the folks who make exercise a part of their lives will be back from vacation. People who really commit to positive habits don’t look for excuses or magic. They force themselves to develop solid habits and stay with them forever.
Serious people who want to change their lives won’t make New Year’s resolutions; they will start in December. They will open a new savings account or have their payroll department begin a new savings deposit before January 1. They will save their gift cards and use them to buy necessities or gifts for others when the next holiday rolls around. And they will take the $500 they thought about spending at the fitness center and use it to pay down a credit card. Once they prove they have a serious savings habit, they can think about trying the exercise habit.
No one should start to develop a new habit at the New Year. Things are way too crowded and it is too obvious to everyone that there is no real commitment.