I love this period in between Christmas and New Year.

With so many people on holiday, it’s that brilliant week when everyone else thinks ‘there’s no point in sending an email right now’, so my inbox is always beautifully empty.

In recent years, I’ve alternated between going on holiday myself, and coming into the office to get some real work done. I’m not sure which I prefer – but it seems whichever I choose, I invariably find myself drawn to reflect on the year just passed, and to set some big goals for the year ahead.

And then it all goes horribly wrong.

For some reason – maybe it’s just because I know people will ask if I’ve done it – I always feel the need to translate my big, daydreamy goals into specific new year’s resolutions.

They’re generally woolly (‘get fit’), too big (‘never, ever eat chocolate again’) or too small (‘get a proper laptop bag’) – and if they’re just right, I tend to forget about them by February. And so, of course, they go unachieved.

For anyone wanting to achieve a resolution, it’s sad; for an expert in behaviour change, it’s just embarrassing.

This year, I’m determined it will be different. I’m going to make sure I achieve my new year’s resolutions by applying some basic behaviour change techniques.

1. Set a specific, achievable goal. This year, I’m limiting myself to one realistic new year’s resolution: read one sustainability-related book per month. This isn’t, you understand, the sum total of my ambitions for 2013. But it is a specific, achievable goal that I won’t find a chore, and will be my only official new year’s resolution.

2. Make a public commitment and report back on progress. Now that I’ve written this post about my resolution, I’m already feeling pressure to achieve it. I’ll post a short review of each book here as I finish it, to show that I’m making progress.

3. Set reminders. I’ve just added reminders to my online diary at the beginning, middle and near the end of each month. If I want to forget my resolution this year, I’ll have to work pretty hard…

I’m going to choose the books as I go along, and try to mix new books with classics that I want to re-read. My book for January is Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce. Watch this space for the review.

All book suggestions are welcome – please let me know via the comment box below.

Wish me luck!

Image: New Years Eve at Borovets… by Klearchos Kapoutsis is licensed under CC BY 2.0