The Problem With New Year Resolutions...
Everyone loves a fresh start. I for one am addicted to fresh starts. I need to start a new project on a Monday or the first day of a new month. A fresh start is like a clean plate which makes you forget that you had eaten before and want to put something new on it. A New Year likewise gives you hope that the last one was just a flux and this time around you’ll get it right something akin to playing the game machines in a casino. Well I’m not saying you should join me in my addiction, but I think you can get the point of me joining the 10,999 other people writing/blogging about resolutions at this period, not to talk of my joining the millions worldwide who MADE resolutions.
But to aim for the different and the unique, let’s talk on the problem with resolutions…and how we can attempt to address them. Of course we all know it’s easier to pick up bad habits than to adopt good ones, but what are the specific reasons why research shows 88% of us fail to keep the resolutions we make at the start of the year?
- WE EXPECT TOO MUCH. It’s an old fact, so old Shakespeare wrote about it. “Expectations are the root of all disappointment” The more you expect the more disappointed you will get. Yes, it’s the New Year, and yes it’s a bland new page for you to be a new you… that does NOT mean you, who you are, what you like, and what you love changed when the clock stroke midnight! We expect too much of ourselves in the New Year as though we became different persons. Go ahead and hope all you want, but be realistic in what you expect. Don’t make resolve to be a completely different person from who you have been. To avoid making high expectations, look at what you have done before, and what you plan to do, how large a gap is there? Try to close that gap a bit; it’s all baby steps people. Start small and slowly but surely you’ll have achieved the goal.
- WE FAIL TO PLAN. *In sing-song voice* Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. If you know this then why do you make a resolution and believe it will manifest itself in your life without a plan? While you can pick up smoking without planning to, you cannot even get into the habit of keeping in-touch with your own parents without a planned insertion of that activity in your daily routine. As such please cancel all those vague resolves to “Be healthier”, Visit friends more”, “Read more”, and “Travel somewhere I have never been”. You might never have been lost, but that’s where you will be with such vague resolutions!! We keep recycling the same list of resolutions every year because we never planned on how to achieve them. Whatever resolutions you make should come with a plan of action, a realistic one. If you have resolved not to eat later than 6pm for instance, how will you avoid it? Sleep earlier perhaps or will you be allowed to eat but not a meal? Just fruits or what? If you resolved to be “A better Christian” for instance, first outline your definition of a better Christian! Then what actions you will need to add to your routine to have reached your Christian-o-meter.
- OUR LISTS ARE TOO LONG! Ok we may have 365 days in the New Year (and you can see five have already gone!!!), But that doesn’t mean you can make 365 resolutions. First off, if your list of resolutions is too much you are looking at them all wrong! That is more of a to-do list than resolutions. Resolutions are goals you plan to achieve. They are defined and leave time for achievement. A resolution is not an activity you are just going to “tick off” immediately. You are going to use a year or more to achieve it. The thing about making it on New Year? You can trace back to when you made that decision and choice to improve on a certain part of life. It doesn’t mean that is when you achieved it!
- WE USUALLY RESOLVE BASED ON POPULAR OPINION. Most of our resolutions are not our own. We list things we think we should, not things we actually want to. And to that I say: The world is not as it should, it is the way it is. Be they way you want to be! If you want to make a resolution, make one, but don’t do so because it is expected that everyone should have a goal for that year. If you want to stop a supposedly bad habit, do so. But do it for yourself, because you WANT to not because others tell you to, or because you have been made to understand you should. When you have to go through the ups and downs of making a life change the fact that its what you really want for yourself will definitely come in handy!
- WE WANT TO BE PERFECT. When you see yourself writing a very long list of resolutions. STOP! Ask yourself. Are there that many things wrong with me?! If you are aiming for perfection fine, but leave room for failure because it’s a fact none of us can be perfect (Imagine how many self-help writers and therapist perfect people would be putting out of business!) Know yourself and what you think your best you will be (note I did not say, what your best attempt at perfection would be). When you know yourself you can love yourself, and work towards your best YOU.
6. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FAIL? Yes I said WHEN not if! You will slip up, unless you are a superior kind of human, we all do. But what happens when you miss out on that daily exercise you resolved to? Or that Saturday visit home? Or fail to write those 500 words a day? Do you give up? Write the resolution off? A lot of us fail in our resolutions within the first month and give up. Don’t allow a bad day become a bad week or a bad month, a failed year! It’s silly really, it shows we expected to have whatever habit we had resolved to down pat in four weeks, which is just not possible. So when you fail try, try again…
Knowing the problem is the first step to solving it… now I’m going to join you and take it bit of my own advice in attempting to get through the plethora of other steps that come before solving/success.
Happy New Year People!