I’ll cut to the chase: I’m not a fan of resolutions, simply because I believe they don’t really work. I agree that starting a New Year is a great opportunity to start over, but the fact that only about 8 percent of people who make these resolutions really stick to them, tells us that despite our good intentions, we need to take a look at how realistic they could truly be. With the Christmas craze behind us and just a few days to welcome another year, I decided it is an optimum time to share the unbelievable, unmasked, naked truth about New Year’s resolutions and what to do instead to set yourself up for success as you strive to create positive transformation in your life.
The tradition of making resolutions was started by the citizens ancient Babylon when they made promises to their gods for the New Year. Today, about 45 percent of residents of the United States make one or more resolutions each year by stating a declaration – or promise to themselves – of what they will achieve in the new season that begins January 1.
The top New Year’s resolutions include:
- Resolutions having to do with weight management (losing weight, exercising, dieting, staying fit and healthy)
- Resolutions around quitting self-destructive habits (smoking, drinking, over-eating),
- Resolutions with regard to financial success (getting out of debt, saving money, spending less, starting a new business)
- Resolutions having to do with lifestyle improvement (learning and self-development, spirituality, community involvement)
- Resolutions related to relationships (more freedom and time with friends and family, stronger marriage, enjoying life)
- Resolutions around following a dream (writing a book, traveling, pursuing a passion)…
- and many more!
These are all commendable and worthy goals, so why is it that 25 percent of these well-meaning people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after just one week? Furthermore why do almost 60 percent give up around or before the sixth month mark? What is it about resolutions that doesn’t quite work so well?
I believe that a challenging aspect of most resolutions is that they are stated as an extreme makeover, focusing on the vague big-picture result rather than on the daily, sometimes uncomfortable, choices that will produce it. For example, if you want to lose weight, rather than setting a goal to “lose 25 lbs.,” you can set goals like cleaning up your pantry and fridge to get rid of unhealthy food, making a shopping list that supports a healthier lifestyle and sticking to it, or simply exercising 10 minutes daily and drinking more water. Choices create circumstances!
A great way to succeed at your New Year’s resolutions is to gain clarity of purpose by writing down what you want to achieve and WHY. Let’s say want to buy a new car and have set a goal to save 20 percent of your monthly income to make it happen; you can go deep and write down an extensive list and a detailed narrative of the core reasons why you want the car in the first place. Ask yourself:
What positive feelings will it cause you to achieve that goal?
What pain will it avoid or alleviate?
How will achieving or not achieving the goal affect or improve the quality of your life?
Another way resolutions can be ineffective is the fact that some are not backed up with a plan. Most people who succeed in any industry or discipline have a proven process, system, or formula they follow consistently. In order to successfully hit your target, you must have a specific plan on how you are going to develop the habits that will result in the breakthrough you want. For example, some goals may require you to wake up earlier, cut down on your social life, or acquire a new skill… and you must get clear on what the investment of time, money, or energy will be and how you can keep it sustainable.
And speaking of HOW, it is best to put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing, instead of worrying about how exactly you will achieve the goal. Every journey starts with the first step and continues one step at a time. The desire to know exactly how everything will unfold can stop us in our tracks and derail us even further from our path to purpose. It helps to take the year one day at a time – that is how we will live it anyways!
Interestingly enough, fear of failure can cause us to quit and revert to our old habits. Many of us quit before we achieve the goal because we fear we won’t make it to the finish line if we continue on the journey. Before starting the race, realize that failure is a natural part of any process and decide you will only fail if you don’t learn. Decide ahead of time what you will do for recovery and how you’re going to get yourself back up and running. It is crucial to remind yourself that you don’t have to wait for a new year to try again. You can re-commit to your resolution any day of any year.
When setting a resolution or goal, it must be stated in present, positive, progressive language, addressing all the significant areas of your life. Here’s a concrete example:
When my life is ideal I am living in a spacious oceanfront home with my loving partner, enjoying financial wealth, abundant time, and invigorating peace every day.
This all-encompassing statements is clear, concise, and compelling. When I take moms through The Passion Test, we find out what their top 5 priorities are so they can focus on aligning with their true purpose. Neuroscientists have proven that our brain can only handle 7 items of information at a time, so by choosing 5 goals you want to focus your attention on, you increase the odds of making it a reality.
Lastly, resolutions are very black and white. You either got out of debt or you didn’t, you either read 10 books or you didn’t, you either traveled or you didn’t. Make sure you allow for milestone celebrations along your journey. I call that “markers,” because they are similar to the mile markers you find along a journey on the interstate to let you know you are closer to your destination. Life can truly be like a highway.
If you have found yourself making the same resolutions every passing year without success, it’s time to examine them and make sure you are avoiding the above common mistakes in goal setting. You want to make sure you are setting goals and making resolutions that support the lifestyle you want to live and the change you want to make, not only on January 1st, but throughout the year.
What are your resolutions, goals, and wishes for this coming year? Accountability and support are great ways to make your dreams come true!
If you haven’t yet learned about The Passion Test, please do. It is the proven effortless path to discovering your top priorities and the secret to living in a way that aligns with your life’s purpose.