Back in the day, the Lord Farquaads of the world criminalized bakers who delivered bread short of their weight. To avoid a beating, bakers gave an extra loaf to anyone buying a dozen. The baker’s dozen was born! But what if the baker’s dozen applied to more than carbs? What if we got another month in our annual breadbasket?
13 months? I’m jittering with excitement.
I’m a resolutions junkie. See the SMART goals scarred onto my forearms? The compulsive journaling? The copy of Atomic Habits on my desk? I live for this. The satisfaction and regrets of closing and the excitement and anxiety of opening. A cocktail of emotion only served at the edge.
The most biodiversity occurs at the edge of two ecosystems. Like the bizarre lifeforms of Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation dwelling in Area X, the edge effects of saltwater and freshwater beget special fish. I’ve noticed the same for life events. Moving from one city to another elicits a bittersweet thrill I’ve come to crave. That thrill also emerges every twelve months: The end of one year and the beginning of another. Today—the last of 2020—is that edge.
But this year, my New Year’s Resolutions aren’t starting January 1st. They’ve already begun. I’m nearly a month into 2021 because I think the baker’s dozen can apply to time.
The Blank Page
Starting 2021 in December reduced starting anxiety. As every writer knows, no words can improve the perfection of a blank page. That pressure paralyzes. New Year’s Resolutions are no different. Want to start running? You can perpetually plan for tomorrow. The plan gives you the same rush as actually running without the risk of ruining a perfect record of zero. I’ve struggled with the blank page in more ways than one: Exercise, reading, writing, flossing…any creative or self-betterment initiative is subject to starting paralysis. Rather than delay that paralysis until January 1st, bite the bullet in December.
The Tuesday Effect
Starting 2021 in December overcomes motivation fatigue. Many people bemoan Monday—the party-crasher of the weekend, the harbinger of the workweek—but often Tuesday is worse. Monday you expect the worst, so you subconsciously prepare for it. And you’re well-rested from the weekend to cope. But Tuesday? You’ve got to do that shit all over again. Motivation lags and you just try to survive. I call this the Tuesday Effect. And it applies to months. Gyms (in any other year) are packed with fresh-sneakered guests in January, but they thin out by February—the slush-filled Tuesday of the year. Motivation can’t sustain resolutions, especially ritual-based ones. Starting those resolutions in December builds the base. Then, right as motivation is lagging, you get the boost of excitement that comes with a new year. January becomes your second month, yet it has the energy boost of the first.
The Beta Month
Starting 2021 in December gives space to experiment. Nothing is good in the first iteration. Every software product (any shipped one) starts with a minimally viable product. The beta release. Our resolutions need that too. You need a safe time and space to test things and work out the kinks. Starting a month early gives you a free month's trial. You can drop it or change it if it’s not working.
This is the MVP of Turtle’s Pace. Inspired by my friend Chuckry’s Only Child, I decided to write one of my own (voila!) for 2021. Rather than wait until January, I’ve kickstarted it in December. Here are my other resolutions:
1. Write fiction every day
2. Climb six highpoints
3. Quit snoozing
4. Be a better friend
5. Breathe through my nose
I’ll also continue my videos of the day. My final 2020 compilation coming soon.
If any of your resolutions are dependent on habit change like mine, I cannot recommend James Clear’s Atomic Habits enough. Also, Streaks is a good habit-tracking app. Every other tracker app I’ve tried charges a monthly fee after you exceed three habits. Streaks is just $5 upfront.
So, that’s that.
TL;DR: I started my resolutions in December and it helped me overcome anxiety, reduce pressure, and increase motivation. Cheers for 2021.
Slow and steady now.