While I'm not a big believer in New Year's Resolutions, I have experimented in the past with attempting to do something for a month to see if I want it as a new habit. Apparently research suggests that you should attempt something for three weeks to develop a new habit, though I have never bothered to look up the original articles. One month I tried to eat only homemade bread, cooked either in the oven or bread machine. That one turned out really well, and I continued that habit until recently when my bread machine died, and I also decided to cut way back on the amount of starches I was eating. When I decided to make a large batch of soup once a week, freezing the leftovers, I made it through the month, but didn't keep going with it as a regular habit. It did make it so I was more willing to make soup, but it wasn't a weekly activity after that first month.
Recently, while watching some videos of a couple of friends that were presenting at TED2013, I came across a video of Matt Cutts, a Google employee that I used to deal with on webmaster boards before I returned to school in 2006.
Matt has been doing a number of 30-day challenges over the last few years, and he seems pretty pleased with the results. I've decided to start giving this a try to see how things go. I'll have to balance the activity that I try to do, with my expected workload during the month, as it can vary widely in grad school. Once something becomes a habit, the activity no longer seems to have as much of an impact on my schedule, as I no longer waste time "thing about doing it".
For April, I've decided to take half an hour a day to work my way through Pimsleur's Spanish I course. I used to go to Mexico a few times a year, and could understand a fair amount of Spanish, but I never got very far with learning to speak it. After just three days, I can see a real advantage to the method of concentrating on learning the speech first, before going on to written Spanish. Pimsleur offers 4 levels of Spanish, so if I decide to continue, I can do that easily enough, but for now I will just concentrate on level 1 and see how I do.
The part of this concept that I like the most, is that by considering these activities a trial period, I don't have to convince my mind that this is something that it will have to be doing forever. I have to be stubborn about it for a month, and if I don't enjoy it by then, I can quit knowing that I gave it a proper attempt.