Its that time of the year (again) when many will decide to make a list of THOSE promises. You know, the things that we should all try and do, all year round.
Are you again contemplating that dream of having that fitter, leaner, more sculptured body? To be able to look down and see ripped abs — or at least your own feet?
Or are you planning to cut back on alcohol, or sugar, or to quit smoking or toss out any of those other anti-social, health-compromising habits you so enjoy?
But in all honesty, will this New Years resolutions stick better this year than they did in 2019. Or will they slowly slide just like they probably did (or may be not) last time? Is it really all worth the guilt tripping come February?
You’d think we’d have given up the ritual of New Year’s Resolutions by now. Everyone knows they are begging to be broken and of those who set them (according to Google), nearly 90% have caved before January is done.
But we can’t help it, can we? There’s something psychologically enticing about starting the new year off with a new, fresh slate, and state of mind. Anything to take you mind off that little man and his hammer thumping away inside the brain come New Years day!
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. By being a bit more self aware of our bad eating habits, and admitting to them, can lead us to change them. BUT it does nothing for our self worth if 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 (when it hasn’t even been on the mind before) exercise. Going past that can of high energy sports drink will deprive you of that addictive, quick energy hit — and maybe a slump in the day. Will I really do that when the reality kicks in and the “list” becomes “practice”? Where’s the fun in any of that?
But the whole reason for bothering with resolutions is to make change, to do things differently, to enable us to feel better. So before you toss in the resolution list before it has gotten off the paper it is written on, make sure you know these three things:
1. Tiny Thinking Works
Aim really, really small. One of the key reasons we fail to change (in anything) is that our goals are too big, too hard, or force 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, and not a physical one either. So before you give up, think about reducing your goal. Go twice a week to start with. Focus on what you CAN achieve. It’s easier to build on small successes after you have a habit nailed down, than to start again after you’ve failed.
Your tiny goals must be connected to the greater plan you have mapped out 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 how great you are going to be will only resonate if you truly believe it. You can only affirm what you know to be true. So if you are saying things to boost you ego with tongue in cheek it will not work. 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
Sad but true. 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 they will not be obsessed with your success as they probably have their own goals they are working on. 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.
So when you wake up (with or without that little hammer fiend), know that the choice and responsibility for changing your life is all (and only) yours.
Shrink your goals if you need to but don’t shrink your life.