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Most of us are accustomed to making New Year’s resolutions. We’ve been programmed to believe that because we turn a page on the calendar, that we can and should try to change ourselves and our lives for the better. Oftentimes, these resolutions are work-related: to be more productive, to manage our time better, or to meet professional goals. Yet research shows that 80 to 90 percent of those New Year’s changes fail to be permanent.
Would making our resolutions at a different time give us a better chance to create real change in our lives?
What if we made our resolutions to change at times when, instead of being comfortably settled into our usual routine, we were already in a state of change, so that our resolutions didn’t feel so out of place and had a better chance of getting traction?
I raise this question because for many of us, this may be the perfect time of year to make some positive changes and try to them permanent. Web workers who are home-based, and who have children, usually have their routine changed pretty significantly when their children return to school in the fall.
In my family, back-to-school means a drastic change of schedule, and a restoration of relative order and routine to life after a summer of chaos juggling my home-based web work and caring for my autistic six-year-old daughter. Because of this, back-to-school time has become a natural time to re-evaluate my work processes, routines and environment as I figure out the new family schedule and routine for the school year.
Other great opportunities to overhaul your routines when your life is already in a natural state of change might be:
- Taking a new job, or significantly changing your client list if you are a freelancer
- Having a baby
So why is it easier to keep resolutions when you are in a state of flux? Wouldn’t it be harder to keep them because you are stressed from the changes in your life? Depending on the change you are undergoing, maybe. But keeping resolutions during your normal routine can be difficult and stressful, too. If you are just floating along comfortably in your usual routine and try to make just one or two changes, it accentuates those changes and makes them seem like a bigger deal. They probably go against the flow of your usual routine — otherwise you wouldn’t need to make a “resolution” to make the change — so they take dedication to integrate.
On the other hand, if a lot of things are changing at once, the positive changes you are trying to make don’t become sticking points in an otherwise comfortable routine. They just become one piece of the overall new scheme of your routine. You’re more likely to be able to integrate them into your routine fully because they don’t feel unnatural.
So how am I taking advantage of back-to-school resolution time? As I’m able to have more uninterrupted work time in my office, I’m experimenting with methods to use that time more productively. I’m focusing on uncluttering both the personal and work areas of my home to make our new routines run more smoothly. I’m trying to be conscious of the new routines I am creating to make sure that they are efficient and productive ones.
I’m trying to take advantage of the natural chance to create new routines, and create good ones.
When do you take the opportunity to create new routines?