New Year’s resolutions. No one really knows where the idea came from: some believe the earliest recorded examples of a similar tradition go all the way back to ancient Babylon. Allegedly, the Babylonian’s would pray to their gods with every new year, promising to return borrowed items and pay off their debts. Later, the Romans would make similar promises to the God of Transitions, Janus — which incidentally is where January gets its name. Even later still, medieval knights would take ‘the peacock vow’ at the start of every New Year: an oath to reaffirm their lifelong commitment to the principles of chivalry and knighthood. The one theme all these disparate traditions have in common is this: the New Year period has always prompted self-reflection, as well as a desire to ‘be better’ — an idea that pervades our thinking about the New Year to this day.
Self-improvement is one of those things that’s as easy to talk about as it’s difficult to practice. It’s one of the few things that’s completely in our own hands. There’s no outside force to police you, no authority to whip you into shape and, in most cases, no real perceivable consequence to you giving up. Simply put: self-improvement starts and ends with you.
Bearing this in mind, having the right attitude when making realistic, long term changes to your life becomes vitally important. So whether you’re struggling to see your resolutions through to the end of January, or thinking about carrying on into the rest of the year fills you with anxiety, we here at KNOMO have put together some suggestions that’ll help you stay the course:
Walk before you can run
Whatever your ‘goal’ might be, avoid the tendency to expect too much, too quickly. In these modern times, where we’re often capable of getting what we want at the touch of a button or click of a mouse, we’ve grown accustomed to instant gratification. The downside is clear: when we don’t lose 4 inches off the waistline after two weeks of dieting and gym sessions, or we feel no closer to playing our favourite song or speaking conversational German, we often get discouraged and the whole thing seems like a failed enterprise. The solution is to stay mindful of this tendency, avoid focusing on your long term goal, and appreciate the small victories along the way.
Easier said than done, right? Absolutely — but we know we’re wired a certain way, so use that knowledge to your advantage. Continually set yourself achievable goals; the more invested you get in your development, the more you’ll learn about your process. Do you like to showcase your progress to others or do you prefer monitoring your growth via stats and numbers? It’ll give you space to get creative with your challenges and help you enjoy the journey, rather than the destination.
Write it down
This step goes in tandem with step 1: keeping a log of your progress or having a visual reminder of what you’ve already achieved can be fantastically rewarding. Invest in a small notepad to track your progress, and carry with you wherever you go. The expertly crafted Amesbury briefcase, has a specific pocket which is perfect for a small notepad, as much as it is for a 10” device. As well as acting as a cue to remind you of your commitment, physically writing down your goals helps circumvent our craving for tangible, short term progress. Human beings are odd creatures: accumulating diary entries or adding crosses to a calendar has a proven effect on our ability to stay committed. The theory is it facilitates our desire to have a physical representation of our progress, even if said progress is nothing to do with our actual goals. Give it a shot: buy yourself a calendar and cross out a day every time you make an effort to achieve your overall goal — whatever it may be. You’ll be surprised how much missing a day bothers you when you have to write it down.
Make a financial commitment
There’s not too much to say about this one other than it’s obviously far harder to quit something you’ve already paid for. If you know you’re the kind of person who struggles to keep motivated then try to wrongfoot yourself — pay for lessons or a gym membership in advance. Perhaps you are vowing to permanently become more organised in 2017? Investing in tools such as our classic Knomad will not only help you sort out your daily effects, but also remind you of your commitment to organisation every time you use it.
This may seem foolish to include but honestly, try to take satisfaction in doing something new. When we’re young, we encounter unfamiliar situations and learn new lessons on a very frequent basis; unconsciously, it promotes mindfulness — we take more pleasure in each day as it comes. As we grow older and everything becomes more routine, time appears to pass quicker and with little incident. Often a month will go by and we’ll barely have noticed. Learning a new skill or training for an unfamiliar challenge works to combat that feeling, recapturing some of the mindfulness that we lose in our adulthood. The beautiful Beauchamp is the perfect companion that affords you freedom to learn and explore, seamlessly organised to free your mind from any additional stress. It can’t be stressed enough how valuable this is: if you can achieve this appreciation for the process, it’s far more likely you’ll achieve your current goals and find yourself motivated to set new ones — ultimately leading to a more satisfying and well rounded life.