Get your motor runnin': A 21-Day Saluteâ„¢


The blah-o-sphere is rife with earnest, can-do, decisive (if mildly hungover) good will and wishfulness today, and probably will be until at least tomorrow.

Here's the thing: If you really want to change a habit, you know what's involved. It's no mystery, and you're certainly not going to find the miracle solution in any book, blog post or bag the Wizard has handy.

To change a habit, you...

  • do it in tiny pieces
  • do it for the right (i.e. values-aligned) reasons
  • do it with the aid of external accountability of some kind

Like I said, you doubtless know this already. But if you don't, if you're 12 or have been living under a rock through the Age of Self-Help or are just plain obtuse, please, trust the lady with 747 blog posts, 28 acting columns and a 1500-word monthly newsletter she's been publishing since May of 2007. It's not magic; it's one stupid goddamned motherfucking foot in front of the other. Period.

I have big, big plans for 2009. Crazy-big. I'm going to be a writing, speaking, teaching, consulting, marketing sumbitch over the next 12 months, and that's on top of the design work I'll probably be doing at least through the end of summer to keep the money flowing in sufficient amounts. (And yes, there will be more amusing songs. Yes, soon. No, you won't be able to share this one with your children, either, although thankfully, there's no butter involved like there was in the filthy, filthy previous one.)

Hence, the Salute. I've been doing these little (HA!) 21-Day Salutesâ„¢ since May of 2006, when The BF, generally the most patient and tolerant soul in my immediate sphere, told me I might want to consider cheering the hell up. I thought it over; I decided I did, in fact, want to Cheer the Hell Up, and that part of the reason I hadn't been cheery recently was because I'd plain and simply gotten out of the habit.

There are various schools of thought on how long it takes to change a habit. Their estimates range from 21 to 30 to 90 days, depending on personality type and exactly how bad that heroin habit of yours is, missy. I'm an optimist, also, wildly impatient, so I went with the low number. You could do the same and renegotiate at 21, if you trust yourself to do that.

This particular exercise is to get me in the habit of writing daily. I only committed to 5x/week on the blog, but I know myself: if I don't seed the habit with a kickstart, it's going to be really rough come Monday.

Another little hack I'm using to get a jump on my year-long resolutions is joining Leo Babauta's 10-minutes/30-days Power of Less project. You sign up, commit to whatever it is you're going to do for 10 minutes each day for 30 days. There are some nifty freebie support documents, if you like that sort of thing, and a big, fat forum (probably literally, in parts, given it's the start of a new year) to keep you honest, or at least to offer you the opportunity. I'm using it to stay on track with my 10 minutes per day of guitar playing. God help you all. And my neighbors.

So join me there! I'm "communicatrix", like I am pretty much everywhere these days.

There are also some non-sucky posts I've found that cover looking backward and forward (the only way to goal-set, believe me):

  • Jared Goralnick, overachieving punk that he is, has an excellent one that points to some goodies, too
  • I loved my other new-in-'08 friend Chris Guillebeau's post, too; it's thorough, with a very good how-to plan
  • Not strictly a look back, but a great 2009 thoughtstarter for business blogger types is Mark Hayward's inaugural post on his new blog
  • New-year-hater Seth Godin has a typically interesting take on things, too, of course
  • And just because he's hilarious, a brilliant writer you should all be reading (check out his Amazon MP3 Advent Calendar series if you don't believe me) and, well, also because I love technology doo-dads that actually live up to their promises of making the world a happier, better place, I'm throwing in Andy Ihnatko's "Best of Tech" column from the Sun-Times

Now, SPILL IT, kids! What's your 2009 plan? How are you sticking to it? If you've made it public, say so and put in a link. If you haven't, consider it.

I'm not fool enough to expect everyone to play along with a Saluteâ„¢. But an effort...right?

Happy brand spankin' new 2009, everyone!