The solution is not to steel your resolve. The solution is to promise yourself less.
When I was a pimply teenager, I was obsessed with the idea of creating new habits around New Year’s resolutions. I would grab my notebooks in the middle of December and plot out all the ways that I would be different when the clock struck 12:01. Next year, I’d be a gym rat. A reader. A non-smoker. A saint.
And, inevitably, by February, I’d failed. I never met a resolution that I couldn’t justify breaking. My study times grew blurrier and disappeared. My workouts went from twice a day to once a week. I was back to smoking a pack a week by President’s Day.
Then I read an old self-help book that my dad gave me, one that told me it took only 28 days to form a new habit. That’s just 4 weeks, I thought. Any chump can stick with a thing for 4 weeks, even a guy with my lagging levels of self-discipline. I started setting monthly resolutions instead of annual ones, and for the first time, started keeping them. Some simple math: 30 days are a lot more manageable than 365. If you’re stubborn like me, you can convince yourself of anything for a month. Grit your teeth and watch the finish line come bouncing up the road ahead of you.