New Year’s Resolutions: The Case Not to Resolve
It seems the voices are louder this year than ever – DON’T make New Year’s resolutions! Why?
- Estimates are that as many as 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail to stick. Yup, thats right. For the vast majority of us, in February, we are back doing the same old thing.
- Failing to change can undermine our belief in ourselves. Without that belief, change becomes even harder.
- Resolutions may distract us from appreciating who we are today. We focus on the things that need to be “fixed”, rather than all the things that make us unique and make the world around us better because we are there.
- Resolutions can reflect a mistaken belief that if we only were thinner, richer, more fit – we’d be happy. IT AIN’T TRUE. The world is replete with examples of people who got rich, lost weight, got married and found they were still unhappy.
- New Year’s resolutions can serve as an excuse to wait to make necessary changes. We can tell ourselves to “eat, drink and be merry” the entire month of December, digging a deeper hole, rather than enjoying a single holiday and getting back to healthy nutrition immediately.
New Year’s Resolutions: The Case To Resolve
I heard a quote today listening to my favorite podcaster, Rich Roll, that sums up the case for why we may want to resolve.
There is no destination. There is only a journey.
- While you make think that is an argument AGAINST resolutions, it is an argument FOR a continuous process to seek to live with purpose. My purpose in life is to be the best “me” I can be. Becoming my “best, most authentic self” (as Rich would say), is a process of change and growth. Trying out new things. Looking at myself and those around me in a different way. Through that process I learn who I am. I learn more about my unique gifts and perspective. I learn how to use those gifts to make the world a tiny bit better. Resolutions can provide mini-plans to help us along the path for change and growth.
- According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t. While it may seem a bit surprising, change management research supports that view. Change is a process. We take a step forward, we wobble, we fall. We learn. We get back up and try it again, and this time, we learn more. Before long, the desire to change is coupled with the right tools and self-knowledge, and voila! We succeed!
What Should You Do?
- Take some time to think about you and your values.
- What do you enjoy doing? Whether it is spending time with friends and family, traveling, reading, gardening, riding a bike or motorcycle or anything in between, have a firm grasp of what brings you pleasure.
- What fulfills you and gives your life meaning? One of the key determinates of a long and healthy life is doing something meaningful. It could be volunteering at a local hospital or charity, working with underprivileged children, moving to a third world country to build a clean water system, or helping raise your grandkids. Learn what brings you a since of fulfillment.
- What would you like to do more of? Are you getting enough of the things you enjoy and that fulfill you?
- What prevents you from reaching your goals? Whether your obstacles are internal (e.g., a lack of self awareness or an unwillingness to take care of “you”) or external (e.g., a lack of resources), consider what prevents you from having more joy and fulfillment in your life. We must first know our obstacles to overcome them!
- Frame the resolution the right way. I think a lot of our lack of “success” at resolutions comes from how we frame them. If we view success only when we attain some final goal, we’ve set a very high bar. Think about change as what it is – a process – a journey. What process will you try next year to reach your goal? When will you evaluate the process and modify it, if it is not working?
- Consider your frame of mind. If life has been really tough lately, maybe you should give yourself a break from pressure to change. Take care of yourself – get a massage, take a trip, go for a hike, do something you enjoy. And do it again and again until you feel a sense of relief. Then gently take time, when you can, to try to learn what you can from your tough times. The tough times often break down defenses that prevent growth.
- Do no harm. If the New Year fills you with dread as you think about all the things you need to change or how many times you’ve tried to change and failed, give yourself a break! It will be there next week, next month, next year. Be kind to YOU!
What Will I Do?
I must be the eternal optimist! There are things I’ve failed at, at least partially, time and time again. But I have no doubt in my ability to change. Real change may be a finicky alchemy that is difficult to get “right”, but I have nothing if not “stick-to-itiveness!” I am a work in progress and the work goes on.
Check out my next blog post to learn about my process for moving towards some key goals for 2016!
Are you resolving in 2016? What advice do you have about New Year’s resolutions?