New Year’s Resolutions Mean Nothing.
You need only to have lived long enough and written enough December 31 resolution lists to discover that our collective resolve takes its annual vacation during mid-January.
Don’t get me wrong, there is infinite power in a single decision but resolutions made on December 31 are more than a single decision. Real resolutions are thousands upon thousands of tiny decisions to THINK, PLAN and DO differently.
Beyond personal experience, my 31 December Facebook Newsfeed is littered with articles warning me that ‘statistics tell us very little long term behavioural change will eventuate from self-promises made on New Year’s Eve’. These realities beg the question – How do I make New Year’s resolutions that will achieve the results I want?
Here are a few insights.
- Don’t make resolutions on December 31. Take advantage of the annual momentum gifted to us at this time of year and take time for reflection. Take a moment or two and think about what you have done in the past 365 days and begin to ask yourself some important questions.
What am I thankful for?
How did I grow as a person over the past year?
What gave me joy in 2013? What brought me grief?
What were my greatest achievements both internally and externally (measurable)?
Where do I want to grow? What is missing from my life that I can create?
If I were looking back in 12 months’ time, what do I want to have achieved?
Take time with this process and re-frame it around where you are and where you want to end up but established on what you are already thankful for.
2. Write a list of your goals on the 2nd of January. Get past your New Year’s Eve (and possible hangover) and write a list post-reflection and with a clear head. If you go back to work on 2nd January, take time to write your list first thing. Once your list is written, do a self-check.
Do I really want what I have written down? Really? Really, really? Will I sacrifice for this list? It’s time to be honest people, you only have one life to live so invest some time in the honesty business. Better to write a list with one goal you will commit too than set yourself up for failure and regret.
Do the goals on this list align with my core values? Goals that are outside our core values create inner tension that we need to be aware of (better for this tension to be out in the open).
For example, let’s say I set a goal to ‘study more in 2014’. Study requires a well planned investment of personal time that could mean less time with the family. I need to be prepared for an internal wrestle due to a conflict of values. The conflict is part of the process but unless I am aware of it and work through how I will practically manage the tension, I will defer to my highest value (family time) and sabotage the goal. You can have both but you need to think through the right balance for you.
If there are Goals on your list that you know you won’t sacrifice for, take them off.
2. Use the first week of January to plan and project. Let’s use the ever popular ‘healthier lifestyle/ weight loss goal’. Here is a three pronged approach:
How do I need to THINK to achieve this goal?
What thoughts can I invest into my thinking that will support my goal? A person who wants to make healthier food choices may adopt the mantra ‘I am disciplined, I am healthy, I can make good lifestyle decisions’. Make a list of goal related, inspiring thoughts to ponder and say each day.
What do I need to PLAN to achieve this goal?
I could develop a menu plan.
(Do I need resources or support?)
I need to list out the ingredients to buy from the grocery store.
What exercise do I actually enjoy?
(What time could I plan to set aside to exercise?)
What do I need to DO to achieve this goal?
I need to shop for the ingredients on the menu.
I need to allocate time to cook the food on the menu.
(What time will I allocate to shop and cook?)
I need to get out there and exercise. J
Resolutions with no strategy for thinking, planning and doing differently are reduced to good intentions written down.
3. Know your weaknesses.
At the end of the day, resolutions are thousands of tiny decisions. Know yourself well enough to know when your willpower is at its weakest and be ready for it. We are all human and sometimes achieving our dreams requires sacrifice that is counter intuitive and exhausting. Think about where you are likely to fall over and hedge for it. Remove all those Christmas Stocking Treats from the house and make sure you have some great alternatives ready for your weak moments. Spoil yourself with a treat that supports your goal (what is that for you?). You don’t have to be a superhero but you can be super-smart.
My final thought is this…don’t walk alone. If you really want to reach your goals, find Allies. Allies keep you sharp and make the journey fun.
Raise your glasses to the best year yet. Bring on 2014.