Afew days into 2018 are you still in the game?
Are you still holding fast to that dream of a fitter, leaner, more sculptured body? To look down and see ripped abs — or at least your own feet?
Or a plan to pay down debt, save some of your pay check, cut back on alcohol, or sugar, quit smoking or substances any of those other anti-social, health-compromising habits you so enjoy?
You’d think we’d have given up on New Year’s Resolutions by now. Everyone knows they are begging to be broken and of those who set them, nearly 90% have caved before January is done.
But we can’t help it, can we? There’s something psychologically enticing about kicking off a new year with Reinvention in mind.
Why Resolutions Don’t Stick
In a traditional sense, New Year’s resolutions force us to focus on the things we DON’T LIKE about ourselves. While cultivating disgust or despair at our anti-social habits can lead us to change them, it doesn’t do anything for our self worth. Especially when we fail. Again.
The most common reason we fail is because to get what we want we must (repeatedly) do what we don’t want.
For example, losing weight will mean goodbye to that cheese scone on the way to work and regular (yuk) exercise. Paying down debt will take a swipe at your social life. Quitting smoking will deprive you of that addictive, quick nicotine hit — not to mention an excuse to take a break from work several times a day.
Where’s the fun in any of that?
But the whole reason for bothering with resolutions is to Make Change, to do things differently so that we feel better. So before you toss in the 2018-emblazoned towel, make sure you know these three things:
1. Tiny Thinking Works
Aim really, really small. One of the key reasons we fail to change (anything) is that our goals are too big, too hard, forcing us to make too much change. So we can’t sustain our efforts. For example, going to the gym every day (from a standing start of nothing) will be a stretch. So before you give up, think about reducing your goal. Focus on what you CAN achieve, preferably on a daily basis. It’s easier to raise the bar after you have a habit locked down than to start again after you’ve failed.
Your tiny goals must be connected to the greater plan you have for yourself. Short-term reasons might work — but they won’t last. So if you are trying to lose weight for your wedding or school reunion you will, if determined, succeed. But be prepared for the slippery slide as soon as the event has passed.
2. Affirmations Don’t Work
Stand in front of the mirror chanting about your fabulousness will only resonate if you truly believe it. You can only affirm what you know, at least on some level, to be true. So start in an area where you already have evidence. “I went for a walk today so I’m getting fitter” is better (because it’s true now) than “I am a fit and powerful presence” (because it’s not yet).
3. No one Cares If You Fail
This one makes me a bit sad because it’s the truest of all. If you are lucky the people closest to you will care about you reaching your goals — especially if health related — because they want to keep you around. But even they will not be obsessed with your success. No one else cares at all if you remain overweight, unfit, neck-deep in debt, addicted to anything. They may even like that you can’t change your life. Not (necessarily) because they are mean but because it helps them feel better about themselves. It’s easier to benchmark yourself against someone whose life is out of control than someone who has it together.