The key to New Year Resolutions that work
Do you want to leave 2020 in the rear view mirror and make a fresh start in 2021?
We often see the end of the year and the start of a new one as a time to reflect on what we have done in the year and what we would want to do differently in future.
This pressure to reflect and do differently often emerges as a series of new year’s resolutions.
Saying doesn’t make it so
NYE resolutions are notorious for failing those who set them. Saying with conviction what you are going to do is not enough to make it happen. The statistics on how many people actually follow through and accomplish their New Year’s resolutions are rather grim. Studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them. (Forbes.com).
Gyms are joined, new equipment is purchased, new habits are planned – most of which will not even be given a second thought by mid February.
And yet this is the time of year so many people seek a big change in their lives. Look at all of the ads for weight loss, new fitness regimes, new career opportunities and new personal success that are on offer at this time of year that seek to capitalise on this societal trend.
Time for a reflective resolution
Rather than a New Year’s resolution, you would be better served with a reflective resolution – that is rather than trying to convince yourself that something you hope will happen can become your new ‘normal’ (like long term weight loss, fitness goals, changing behaviours or losing a habit), actually developing a plan to achieve your goal and putting in the effort to get there.
Every change takes effort
If you have developed ways of doing things that you want to change, it will take effort. Every change, no matter how motivated you are, takes effort to achieve. You have to break out of your current status quo and put in the effort of creating a new (and better) one.
What people want is often idealised and they are not prepared to make the effort (or don’t know how) to create the change that they want. They know they want a different outcome, but find the effort to change or the lack of clear process too difficult to manage – especially when they have so much else going on in their lives. This creates change fatigue and uncertainty, which often means the effort ceases before the goal state is reached and they slide right on back to where they started.
What do you really want?
Resolutions are often too big and lack specificity. Setting smaller, highly specific goals makes them achievable and creates a positive momentum of change. Big, unclear and uncertain ‘resolution goals’ are often too vague and too big to do anything with – break the status quo through small steps rather than giant leaps.
Ask yourself : ‘What is the smallest positive change that you could make?’ and ‘How would I make that happen?’ Setting small progressive goals is far less challenging than big resolutions.
Not all change is good
Often resolutions we set simply want to get rid of a habit (or outcome) and have no thought that we might just replace it with something else. Giving up smoking by eating sweets instead. Replacing overeating with Bulimia. Stopping going to the casino but switching to online gambling. In each case an outcome is achieved – but is it the best outcome for you? Always test your goals as you progress and ask ‘is there a better way to do this?’ There might be an obvious problem you are creating in the way you are stopping your old habit (and replacing it with a new one). Often a confidante or coach is valuable to give you an external perspective at such times.
Motivation is not enough
Motivation can be the fuel that drives your change effort. However, unless you are clear what you are changing to, have the skills and resources to support you, it is unlikely that the motivation to change will be enough. Having the skills to function at the new status quo often needs to be learned and practiced. Unless you have the resources (time, effort and physical and social supports) the goal will simply remain a pipe dream.
So you still want to set a New Year’s Resolution?
- Be clear what you want to achieve. Be specific.
- Check that it is valuable to you, and that you are prepared to put in the effort to change.
- Understand what it would be like to achieve the goal – how vividly can you imagine being that person, doing that new thing?
- Understand what it would cost you to achieve it? What would you lose by getting that goal?
- What is a valuable way to make the shift? What other options can you consider that could be better than that?
- Do you have the skills to enact the change, or how will you learn and develop them?
- What resources will you need to make it happen?
- How will you create accountability so that you will persist when the change efforts are pressured?
If you are serious about making an adaptive change and getting better, then you can do this at any time. Contact me to find out how I can support you in making this happen.