It is that time of year again – time to set New Year’s resolutions! Sadly, for most of us, setting resolutions turns out a waste of time; often just another stick to beat ourselves up with.
Because, 88% of New Year’s resolutions don’t ever become reality. A lot of them are abandoned or quietly put aside within the first quarter of the New Year. To me there are two main reasons why New Year’s resolutions don’t fly for most of us:
- We focus on the wrong thing
- We don’t focus enough
1. We focus on the wrong thing = A lack or weakness zaps motivation from the get go
When we are not already good at something or believe we are not, it feels a little challenging, or we have to make a conscious effort. This means, it is also more challenging to get motivated and find the necessary willpower to stick to it. And given all else that is going for us all the time, the amount of information and decisions we have to process every day, any ounce of willpower or motivation is precious. Why waste it on trying to battle with a weakness or lack if we can focus on something we already want and not what don’t want? How about turning this on its head?
Focus on something we want more of? Something that is already a strength or we just want it to be even better.
2. We don’t focus enough = Vague aspirations take up too much brain power
Most New Year’s resolutions – and indeed goals we set – tend to be too vague or too high-level for our brains to process and turn into actionable reality. If we have a goal like: ‘Eat more healthily’ – what does that actually mean? Every time you think about it, you have to almost conduct an internal analysis of what that means to you on that day, that minute, that second. Hard work! And, because it’s hard work for our overworked and busy brains, little or no action follows, or we just resort to the old, easy and comfortable habits. Why not make it easy on yourself?
It is perfectly OK to aspire to e.g. ‘Eat more healthily!’ To turn this into something you know you can achieve . . .
- Create the smallest action you know you can achieve under the overall banner of your aspiration e.g. for ‘Eat more healthily’ this might be ‘Eat an apple instead of the daily snickers bar at 3pm in the afternoon’.
- Prepare for your action as you would for a job interview, a project meeting or trip abroad e.g. make sure you have enough ‘apples’ with you, that you put the ‘apple on your desk’ or wherever the ‘snickers bar’ used to be.
- Celebrate and mark the occasion. Every time you complete you action take some time to savour the moment and congratulate yourself. Some fun ways to do this is to
- Bank you success: Get a medium-sized glass jar and coloured post-its or pieces of coloured cardboard. Draw a symbol for your completed action on the papers and put one piece into the jar each time you complete your action. You can also use coins for this one.
- Mark the days: Use a visible calendar and draw your symbol on each day. It can be a smiley, or something that is meaningful to you
- Give it a week of daily practice, and you will notice the difference in your motivation, self-esteem and energy levels. Keep up your preparation and your daily action, whilst introducing another small action you know you can do for perhaps a different aspiration (if you have several) or for the same (if you have one big one)
With a few successes under your belt, other successes will creep in and larger actions will feel easier to take on – you might even find that you are much more motivated to take on the bigger actions, which previously appeared too difficult or uncomfortable.
Wishing all Aronagh’s connections a Happy, Prosperous, and Success-filled New Year 2015!
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Credits and Further Reading
Picture Credit Copyright: letyg84 / 123RF Stock Photo
Reading: Dr Richard Wiseman’s New Year’s resolution experiment: http://www.quirkology.com/UK/Experiment_resolution.shtml