I am guilty of this myself. I love fresh starts. A fresh year. A new slate if you will. However, when life continues to run amuck, with what I thought was an agreement between me and it, to CHANGE it, these resolutions can crumble and disappear. Life stays the same and I am back in my old ways, doing the things that either drive me crazy because I yearn to change it or I need change to revitalize me.
A very important date is upon us this week. January 21, 2015. And if you don't know the significance of it I will tell you. 87% of the population who start out with the resolution to do something different from Jan 1 on have now officially given up. New year, new you, over. That's an astounding number. And what's even sillier, is that we now think the whole year is deemed over in the first 21 days.
Let me leave you with a thought here before I move on..... If you get a flat tire, do you then slash the other three? No, because that would be insane and utterly ridiculous. Why do we allow ourselves to do that with our 12 month year? or with what's left of the other 49 weeks? 344 days? A lot of change can be built on in a year if you just know how.
The main reason why people fail at achieving their resolutions is that they fail to plan them. It is easy to jump on what sounds like a good resolution and then exercise all our effort in battling whatever we initially see as the culprit that has kept us from achieving it in the past until our willpower has warn thin and failure looms. We may have the wish in mind of what we want to achieve in the new year many weeks before it is upon us but a wish is just that. Without a plan it goes nowhere. I feel that in order for us to be successful at keeping our resolutions we must first be proactive about them. Dedicate some time and pick one of your more important ones to map out and work on a plan so that you can see it through.
Great! You know have that resolution and have some time set aside. What next? You need paper and a pen, or some sort of device that will allow you to note it and see it in front of you, out of your head. Write it down. Read it. Say it aloud. Make it real.
Then ask yourself: is this realistic? Can this be measured? Am I setting myself up for success? What is the big picture?
Once you have thought about these questions I encourage you to change the wording of your resolution to make sure it still fits and satisfies all these questions. For example: "I want to lose 10 lbs." This is a generic goal fit for anyone, fit for failure. There is no timeline. No schedule. No strategy on how. It's not very deep in it's value. No there's no plan when life runs amuck and kicks your resolution onto it's face.
Examine why your wanting to achieve your resolution. For the ten pound example I would encourage you to look deeper and find out what that ten pounds means to you. Does that mean if you had 10 less pounds you would be able to wear clothes you could be happy in? or the ability to walk 10 km farther? or mean your off a certain kind of medication? What else would your resolution mean to you, that's not written down on that piece of paper?
Maybe try rewriting it like so: I would like to workout on a regular, consistent basis because I feel unenergetic and at a complete loss of control over the way I react to stressful situations in my life.
Aha! Now we are getting dirty. Past those ten pounds and onto something concrete. And good for you, your resolution and you have now bonded! A little bit harder to just walk away from it. Or now, maybe you realize that it needs more work and a PLAN!
So resolutions are generally all about our habits- bad ones we are trying to change or good ones we are trying to incorporate. Personally, I have a harder time working negatively towards something. Meaning, I need to generally add something into my life before I successfully take something out. In an example, if I had the goal of cutting out sugar (because it reeks havoc on our digestive and endocrine systems, leading to forms of metabolic disorder or diabetes or heart disease...I would be after the goal of avoiding all that ;)..) I would then need to add something in so that I could replace the cutting of something out. Like VEGGIES! There! Two healthy birds with one stone. I would make a goal of eating more spinach everyday. And pair it around the time when I would generally reach for a sugary treat.
WOW! we aren't even into the habit part and already a lot of work, right? It's no wonder why people fail come January 21. How could we possibly succeed if we haven't prepped?
"We can't be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don't have something better.”
― C. JoyBell C.
Well said. Don't settle. Reach for Better.
Now we have come this far we need to strip it down even further. The mere part of bonding and writing out our resolution, and identifying our motivations, or setting up a timeframe aren't enough.
Because when you get a nasty infection (given this time of year it's bound to happen....) or you get slammed at work with a project or a family member starts to need your attention more then usual you'll get thrown off track. Its inevitable. A true guarantee. Without a plan to put you back on track your goal will slip out of your grasp and there goes January 21. And Then Feb 21. And Mar 21. And then the whole year because by now your tired of failing and restarting on a new month or week and you have just slashed your other three tires. Familiar? Yup. Here too.
So what are you to do? Now, we identify those obstacles. "I want to lose 10 lbs....." We have dissected this to mean a more consistent exercise schedule to manage weight, energy and stress. What obstacles comes up in regular schedules? How about if we have given ourselves too much time? It takes 21 days to create a new habit. Have you given yourself 3 weeks even? Lets chip away at this slowly. You won't lose ten pounds in three weeks, but we are building. Eventually, those ten pounds may never come back. Or you'll gain a brand new friend along the way.
Pick one workout and do it one or two times a week for three weeks. There! A baby habit is born. Oh, but what if you suddenly catch a cold? or a weekend away throws out all your efforts? Give yourself time to reconnect with your goal. Pull out that paper and read your plan. Did you write down what you would do had you seen this coming? I'm sure a well written plan as identifiable obstacles. For me, it's time. Be careful not to over dedicate yourself. Write more obstacles down as you come across them. It's impossible to see them all right away. Sometimes, we can't foresee that riding our bike to work is impossible the route we had picked because road construction has now been planned for a section of it that wasn't taken into account when you were bonding with your resolution.
That'll be enough to start. Like I say, all you ever need to start is a Monday.... at the most 7 days away.
Once you've established your three week baby habit, add slowly to it. Maybe you now incorporate another workout, or a yoga class. Or! you read a bit about what your actually doing fitness or nutritionally with your body. Knowledge is power. You may find that this is feeding your resolution rather then slowly weaning away from it. And do this again for three weeks. Need more? Add slowly, or adjust. Maybe the first habit doesn't work as well as two newer ones do. Do what works for you. And be flexible. And forgiving.
Lastly, give yourself a deadline. Then tell someone. It's a kick in the pants to keep you going. It'll be harder to give up if your accountable to someone other then yourself and your likely by now crumpled up piece of paper I was calling a resolution.
Well, now how badly do you want that resolution? Have I scared you off? I hope now you feel more revitalized to be able to be successful. Anything you want you can have. But nothing great in life ever comes without work, or free, for that matter. I promise you though, consistent efforts will lead to consistent results. Without a challenge there will be no change. Embrace the challenge. That's where you finally start seeing you and not this existence of you going day to day through your life fulfilling whatever version of yourself you *think* you are. This is where you get to create. And by creating you, you will find you.
"Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free