Updated: Jan 11
32 days. The words on the electronic sign flashed as I drove by. “Is it really only 32 days” I thought. The trivia question had flashed on the sign a few seconds earlier, “What is the average number of days a New Year’s resolution lasts?” 32 days.
The word resolution means “a firm decision to do or not to do something, the quality of being determined or resolute”. Each year millions of people set New Year’s resolutions. Firm decisions to do or not to do something. And for an average of 32 days they keep that firm decision, that quality of being determined or resolute. And then the average person stops.
Perhaps, this year more than any other, I have heard people say they are NOT setting any New Year’s Resolutions. It seems that many people are done with the hypocrisy of the word Resolution and the average of 32 days. Yet the allure of a new year and a fresh start are difficult to ignore.
There is something magical about the idea of starting something new. A brand new pair of shoes, a brand new piece of paper, a brand new diet, a brand new year, a brand new me. When something is new it has nothing but potential, all possibilities with no failures or negative marks.
As I listen to people I sense a love/hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions. We love the idea of a new year, fresh with new possibilities and free of any missteps or mistakes. Yet, we have tried these resolutions in the past and we feel a part of the 32 day club. Many of us have become cynical with the hypocrisy of the idea of New Year Resolutions, when our experiences have just made us feel less than resolute.
Sunday, June 18, 2017 is when I stopped setting New Year’s Resolutions and started setting streaks. I set a streak to read at least 1 paragraph in a book to my boys everyday. For over four and a half years now, I have read to my boys every single day. We have finished dozens of books, and are currently just a few pages away from finishing a book that’s nearly 800 pages long. Why does a streak have the power to be so resolute, when our New Year’s Resolutions often fizzle after 32 days?
There are 5 main reasons:
My streak is a streak-not a goal. A streak is a laughably simple activity that I do consciously and consistently to become who I want to be. When I set this streak I wasn’t thinking, “I want to read 32 books to my boys” I was thinking, “I want to be a mother who reads to her children.” In streaking we call this a “Be Statement.” The genesis of a successful streak is in its strong connection to a be statement. Notice I mentioned that a streak is not a goal. Goals are focused on the output-I want to read a certain number of books, while a streak is focused on the input-I want to read to my children everyday. You can have goals that compliment a streak-but a streak is not a goal.
I made the streak laughably simple-read at least 1 paragraph in a book. It doesn’t have to be the same book every night, it doesn’t have to be more than a paragraph, the children don’t even have to be awake when I read. Most of the time it is the same book, and most of the time we do read more than a paragraph and most of the time the children are awake. But making the streak simple enough to allow for off days and sometimes even off weeks has allowed me to keep it going for years.
I was patient and forgiving in the beginning. I had to restart this streak several times in the beginning. Mostly when the weekend would come around. But the success I was having was compelling and gave me the courage to start again. After about 3 restarts, I have been able to maintain this streak. Be patient when you are starting something new, it’s quite normal to sometimes have a restart.
I kept a record. This was my iron-clad proof that I was doing it! No question marks. No guessing. I know exactly how many days I have had this streak. This creates enormous self credibility and inspiration to continue.
I created a community around this streak. My entire family knows and supports this streak. They both encourage me and celebrate with me.
This year make it past the average 32 days; this year keep your resolve by setting a streak-
decide on something that’s important to you personally, that contributes to the person you want to become.
Make your streak laughably simple, giving yourself the latitude for the days that just don’t go as planned.
Keep a record of your streak - download the Streaking App
Create a community by sharing your streak with your friends and family. (You can also post about your streaks in the app)
A new year naturally invites us to start new and have more resolve. But that new pair of shoes was meant to be worn, and that new piece of paper was meant to be written on, and that new year is meant to be lived. So don’t limit yourself to being resolved only once a year. Set a streak today.