In which I don’t make any new year’s resolutions but endeavour to make some changes anyway, in the form of monthly challenges.

The Happiness of Habits

615 words about life — 22:00 · 21st Jan 2016

I’m not a big fan of new years resolutions.

Which is why I did what I do every year and consequently promised nothing at the stroke of midnight. Never mind the fact that I had already gone to bed and fallen asleep by that time—I’m apparently that old now.

My biggest gripe, if you can call it that, with new year’s resolutions are that they’re often empty promises. Now I’m sure that’s not the intention of those who make them but they nonetheless, usually, end up being, empty unfulfilled promises.

Now I don’t really know why the people who make new year’s resolutions are also the people who often struggle to keep them but I suspect it boils down to this;

Most of us, live most of our lives on autopilot.

I say us because I’m just as guilty of this as you are; It takes a lot of work, constantly, consistently to not switch to autopilot. And it’s tiring. So God damn tiring.

Rewarding sure, eventually but before that it mostly sucks. And it doesn’t suck a little—which most of us could handle—no, it sucks a lot. And often.

And to form new habits requires one to stay in manual pilot for a longer time than most of us would prefer.

In the first thirty years of your life, you make your habits; for the last thirty, your habits make you. Hindu saying

Now it’s one thing for the people who make new year’s resolutions but end up unable to keep them but it’s a completely different matter for me, who make none.

But I still want to change.

And I don’t know about you but I’d hate to think that I’ve already established all the habits I will ever have.

Bring it on

Which is why for the next twelve months I want to challenge myself, in some form or another.

Each month I’m going to complete different challenges that I set out before the start of the month. From drawing a post-it portrait every day to learning how to juggle these challenges won’t necessarily make me a better person. I simply hope, at the very least, to jog myself out of this catastrophic autopilot I feel like I’m in.

Whatever the challenge is, my aim is to commit at least 30 minutes—where applicable—to it every day.

Historial photo of the Hinderburg disaster.
Well, maybe not quite this catastrophic. Photo courtesy of Rupert Colley.

Starting of January, and because I knew I wouldn’t get around to talking about these challenges until now, I’m doing one of the most boring and adult challenges I could think of.

Sleeping.

Or more specifically, sleeping better.

In the past month, i.e. December, I’ve been feeling like I don’t get enough quality sleep.

So for January’s challenge, I’m trying to rectify this by being in bed by 22:30 every evening. This way, by my count, I should have enough time to get enough sleep until my 06:50 alarm.

The challenges

These are all the challenges I’ve planned.

  1. Sleep better
  2. Read book(s)
  3. Write a short journal entry every day
  4. Learn Danish
  5. Take a photo (with a different theme)
  6. Learn to play the Harmonica
  7. Create post-card sized artwork
  8. Learn to play La Complainte De La Butte by Rufus Wainwright
  9. Draw a self-portrait
  10. Learn the art of juggling
  11. To be announced
  12. To be announced

And whilst I don’t have much else to tell about this sleeping endeavour of mine I’ll be sure to fill you in on all the other challenges as the months go by.


You’ve just read The Happiness of Habits .

In which, 4 years ago, I wrote 615 words about life and I covered topics, such as: writing.