New Year resolutions are made all over the world at the dawn of each New Year. This is a tradition that has been around since time immemorial, maybe when man started keeping a record of the days. The ancient Babylonians were making New Year resolutions as far back as 4,000 years ago. They promised the gods they would pay their debts.
Different people may mark the New Year at different times, but making resolutions remains part of the ritual of New Year celebrations. Most New Year resolutions center on promising oneself to do things differently, being better to other people, and a commitment to change something for future. About 45% of Americans say that they make New Year resolutions but unsurprisingly, only 8% are successful in their quest. 81% of New Year’s resolutions fail within the first 3 months of making them.
The Down Side of Resolutions:
In the past, I have made new year resolutions by looking at what went wrong and asked the why and how questions. From this analysis, I promise to improve my way of doing things by addressing the why and how issues that I saw. This approach has worked with mixed results. Let’s say I promise to lose 20 pounds by June and do not achieve that. I reflect and decide that being too busy prevented me going from the gym 5 days a week while truthfully I made a goal that was very ambitious with my current schedule. This then leads to feelings of failure and we then abandon the goal completely and decide we will try again next New Years. This cycle then continues and we realize we have made the same New Years Resolution (i.e. weight loss, quit smoking) for the past several years.
So how do we avoid the Black Hole of failed New Years Resolutions?
1) Set Realistic Goals:
They say it is foolishness to keep repeating the same thing and expect different results. This approach of review and modify is evidently working poorly. What if I looked at what I love doing best and make a resolution to do it more and by that route, achieve what I wanted in the first place. So for the loss of 20 pounds, I will promise to go jogging on the weekends for example because I love jogging and I am freer on the weekends which sets myself up for success. Maybe part of my plan is I start there but after a month I then try and add one weekday in and grow the goals slowly as I am progressing. This is more logical, but how many of us take the time to plan out are the goal like this versus making a grand resolution like “I am going to lose 20 pounds in 2 months and workout 5 days a week!” This sounds more like the New Years resolutions that set us up to fail again.
So this year, I took time and was thoughtful in making goals around the good things I am currently doing, things I am good at, and things I enjoy. We build our lives around the stuff we love and are good at, not the things we dislike. Try changing your mindset, reward the positives, and use tools such as vision boarding to help you get there.
A vision board is a platform on which you mount images of what and where you would like to be in the future. The board can be a simple cardboard on which you mount cut out pictures just like a scrapbook, or it can be a digital platform which you can have as your desktop computer background. You can also build a mental visual board by visualization. This has been described as one of the most powerful mind enforcing techniques.
Visual boarding helps one achieve New Year resolutions by providing clarity, enforcing daily affirmations and staying attentive to the task at hand. Visual boarding breaks down a large, difficult task into smaller tasks that are doable and can achieve gradual success.
Using the 20-pound weight loss example, you can break down the tasks into making sure that you attend the gym once every week for the first two months, twice after another two months, and thrice after another two months. Tackling a task this way is more successful as these are gradually achievable steps.
3) Reward Each Success
Rewarding yourself after completing a smaller task encourages progress to other smaller tasks higher up the ladder, or keep the course without wavering. Rewarding yourself after the successful completion of a phase encourages you to tackle the next phase. If you have successfully managed to go to the gym every week for the two months, go out for a movie, set aside some self-care time, click here for some self-care ideas, or buy new sports shoes for the gym. Be sure to give yourself credit and celebrate the little wins, while being gentle on yourself when you are struggling. Remember you are human, and you are doing the best you can.
I hope you find this useful and will attempt some of these approaches when making your goals for 2017. I wish you all the health, happiness, and positive energy in the New Year.
Wishing you well,