Why an irrationally ambitious New Year resolution could be just the start you need

Why an irrationally ambitious New Year resolution could be just the start you need

In the period between Christmas and New Year, there’s a kind of magic threshold.

Out with the old, in with the new, the saying goes.

As nerologist Faye Begeti puts is, your brain goes into a kind of big picture thinking.

“It’s called the Fresh Start Effect,” she says.

And one effect of it is to foster the irrational optimist in us.

Suddenly, we’re discussing that cold dip plan we’d heard about. Or that 10-mile a day challenge.

And you know what, as a proponent of habits, I’m all for it (insert your own medical disclaimer here).

Seriously, the world wouldn’t be the place it is without irrational optimists.

And, riffing on a famous quotation, George Bernard Shaw did say: “Those who say it is impossible should not interrupt those who are doing it.”


If you have just set up something grandiose in the way of a new year’s resolution, then you’re using a principle from naval architecture.

Planes don’t achieve flight by jumping – they generate slightly more upward force than gravity exerts by pushing their carefully shaped wings faster and faster along the runway.

But sometimes the runway isn’t long enough for that speed to be reached. So aircraft carrier designers put a ramp at the end, effectively shooting the aircraft into the air. It’s called semi-ballistic take-off.

It helps!

Your friends may be scoffing, but there’s reason in your madness. You’re using the excitement of the Fresh Start to get things going fast.

But what happens next is key!

You have two options.

  1. Create such a powerful system of support around you that you can maintain that angle of take-off. Eseentially, here you are making the impossible possible. This is what coach Greg Whyte does with celebrities so they can swim the English channel at very short notice. He makes the impossible possible with a big team of physios, doctors, logistics, sponsorship experts and himself, a master coach.
  2. Level out. This means bringing down your nose and getting up enough speed and momentum by sacrificing that steep angle of ascent. In other words, make your habit sustainable. Habits are an itteration game. Keeping it up is everything.

Three hacks that will help

  1. Get a buddy.

Strava looked at 70 million athletes in 2019. Those who trained with another person ran 20% farther.

  1. Join an event, challenge or race

Again, Strava saw that 88% of those who signed up for an event were maintaining their new regime six months after starting

  1. Join a club or a network

This is another decisive factor identified by Strava.

If you can, compound all of these.

And don’t judge yourself either way.

Hope isn’t always rational, yet it’s part of the human spirit.

And our ability to maximises our chances together is considered our evolutionary advantage over other species.

Levelling out

If you’re considering levelling out in time. Consider this approach based on the acronym SAME.

S. Simple… make it easy to recall

A. Answerable… make it supportable, meaning you can tell yourself or a friend in one word whether it got done

M. Meaningful… don’t go too far in the other direction. Make it significant enough to move the needle

E. Even on a rainy day… restarting a habit takes more energy than starting one, so make it something you can keep even when all the odds are against you.

This new year, I hope you fly. And that you keep your baby in the air.

All of the above, remember, Habitmakers can help with (buddy support, a network, and we run events too).

Good luck

Three ways to work with Habitmakers

  1. Join our course **Best Year Ever 24.** In ten sessions over six weeks, here’s a great way to make the plans, establish the habits and build the support system to make 2024 a winning year. And we’ll introduce Effortless Habits, which not only makes even challenging habits a lighter lift, but is also a ticket to a happier journey through life.
  2. Register for a coached Five-Week Challenge. Get two coaching sessions, buddy support, and training over a five-week period in which you are challenged to keep a 21-day streak of a foundation habit.
  3. Subscribe to the Habitmakers Newsletter for tips and inspiration and to be kept in touch of events and ways to get involved.

Enrolment for Best Year Ever 24 is open now. Visit this sign-up page to learn more

Tim Wright is the founder of Habitmakers® and author of Habits Are Us – How intentional friendship is the key to the life you want, day after day after day. If you’re struggling to find a buddy, visit https://didu.se/join-a-programme/. Habitmakers also helps organisations create buddy systems for more engaged hybrid working. Scroll down slightly for a free download.

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