It’s a brand new year. We watched the ball drop, we partied like it was 1999, and we even buried some long-standing gripes with people who we didn’t get along with. The next and obvious step in this quest for personal development is to load your plate with a bunch of “New Year’s Resolutions,” right? Wrong! You will be surprised by this but studies suggest that a whopping 92% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by Jan. 20th. So, why do we keep making them? Because we are humans, and humans are creatures of habit. We will look at 5 reasons why they don’t work and the way you can get around these New Year’s Disasters Decrees.
1. They are centered Jan. 1st and not your desire – New Year’s Resolutions require an enormous amount of willpower. We have to overcome stubborn habits that have been entrenched in our operating systems for months or even years. The first place to start is to ask this question: “If I needed to make this change so badly, why did I HAVE to wait until January 1st to take my first step?”
It’s because the resolution was based on the start of the year. This might seem like a stretch to you, but by doing this, we are looking to the “newness” of the new year to help you make new changes in your own life, where as you wouldn’t wait to begin any other critical change. If the doctor told you in August, that you would die in one month if you did not quit smoking, would you really wait until the new year?
Solution: Start a change when you realize you need to change. Don’t wait for a symbolic day, because this is an indication that you are not relying on 100% Willpower and desire to reach your goal.
2. They place too much pressure and expectation to perform – When an individual wants to make a change, they usually plan to take steps proportionate to the severity of the change. Sally has to lose 50 lbs. to prevent her leg from being amputated. She places a load on her shoulders by going for the whole 50 lbs. in an unreasonable 1 month. Are there people who could do it? Sure. “Can they sustain it?” Now, that’s the real question.
After the obvious failure to meet such stringent expectations, we block the resolution (and the painful emotions associated with our failure to meet and back up our goals). By the time February comes around, we’ve somehow forgotten we were on a mission. If it had not been for your friend reminding you that you made a resolution, you would have blocked it out completely.
Solution: Rather than reaching for an impractical goal, take the minimum possible goal that you know you can turn into a habit, then increase from there. It is human nature to ALWAYS WANT MORE!! So, if your goal is to get ripped, start a daily 2 minute workout. After 2 minutes becomes a habit, you will inevitable want to increase the intensity and, more importantly, your commitment.
3. Most times they are more idealistic than practical -Why do we think up these, “change the World” resolutions at the start of the year? Changing the World is a very noble aspiration, however, it takes a system of plans and tactics to influence the affairs of Planet Earth. When we come to the close of the year, we reflect on the things we wanted to do but didn’t nor couldn’t do, for one reason or another.
Our minds play tricks on us because in this state of reflection, we usually seek redemption from a less than productive 365 days. So, to fight back, we aim for the stars. We harm ourselves by doing this, though. The bottom line is that impractical resolutions might sound noble but they will never be followed through to completion.
Solution: Break your resolution into the “lowest-sustainable goal” you can handle. I would say about 30% – 60% of what you know you could do. Be practical. You will still have to live you life. You have to be able to work your resolution into the rhythm of your life. Cater it to YOUR life and not the other way around.
4. They are too general – “To be a better dad, to take more time out for yourself, to learn how to cook, to lose weight.” These statements might be enough to solicit “ooooh’s & ahhhh’s” around the room of family and friends, but when it comes to modus operani, these flaming generalities leave no pathway for you to actually get to your finish line.
When you determine in you mind to be a better father, what does that look like? How will your children know that you have changed? How will you know that you have reached your goal? How will you measure your success? If you only make general resolutions, you will have mediocre results. Need I remind you that mediocre is failing by Jan. 20th will the other 91% of New Year hopefuls.
Solution: Make sure you have a measuring system for any resolution you make. For, example, “I will spend 5 extra hours with my children every week,” rather than just getting by with the, “I’m gonna be a better dad” spiel.
The bottom line is that if the changes you want to make are that necessary, June 21st is just as good a day to start as January 1st. Make sure you do all you can to cooperate with yourself in accomplishing your goals for the new year.