The Christmas Tree is up, the Menorah is lit, and Mariah Carey is playing on loop in every public location, making me want drill a hole through my frontal lobe.
It is inevitable that as we come to a close on the calendar year, we begin to reflect.
We take the experiences we have had, the lessons we have learned, the mistakes we have made, and try to go forward with those things in mind, in the hopes of doing better in the coming year.
This is why new year’s resolutions are so common. It is the natural next step after reflection.
The thing is, everyone knows by this point that an overwhelming majority of new years resolutions fail.
Why though? Seems pretty simple:
Step 1) Looks back on past year. “Hmm, could have done better financially”
Step 2) “I will resolve to do better next year!”
No one wants to fail on their goals. Especially when that failure comes in the form of a recurring gym membership zapping $40 from your bank account every month for the next 2 years, even though you haven’t stepped foot inside since January 3rd.
As the old saying goes though, “if it were easy, everyone would do it”.
So, before you go setting your new years resolutions, here are some questions you should deeply consider:
1) Why is this goal, YOUR goal?
Losing weight is a fine goal, getting buff, dieting, meditating. Whatever you decide to do, there is no wrong answer. But the question is, why?
If the goal is intangible, you are more likely to fail. This is because when it gets hard, which it will, we give up on shallow attempts.
A goal to lose 20 lb is fine, until we remember that losing weight sucks, and Oreos are delicious.
A goal to meditate for 20 min per day is great, until sitting in silence for 30 seconds starts to drive you up a wall, and you remember that there is a cool cat video you haven’t shared with your 47 followers yet.
Having a deep meaningful why, like “I want to lose 20 pounds, so that I can be healthier and have a better more active relationship with my kids”
or “I want to meditate so I can be more present in life and reduce some of my work related stress” will help when the inevitable road bumps come along, looking to knock you off course.
Motivation is fleeting. You’re motivated now because of the time of year, but that will fade. Having a deeper “why” will help to keep you on track when that initial burst of motivation just isn’t cutting it a few weeks from now.
2) What will your life look like one year from now, if you achieve everything you set out to?
This one piggybacks on the last. Similar to finding your why, this helps to bring some realism to an otherwise particularly abstract idea.
Take your goal, and expand on it. Look into the future. Really get descriptive and realistic.
Say your goal is, “I want to quit smoking”
But quitting smoking is hard,
And smoking makes you feel good.
So you are fighting a losing battle right out of the gate.
Literal shit tons (scientific term) of research has been done on the topic, it’s an easy and free tool that you can use to help starting right now.
When that battle rages in your head, it may be helpful to envision yourself a year from now, happy, healthy, able to participate in some sort of activity that maybe you couldn’t before because of your smoking habit.
Or, if your goal is to get shredded like mozzarella cheese, maybe imagine yourself on a beach, enjoying your new found abs (hey, I can dream, can’t I?) surrounded by onlookers envious of your obvious hard work and determination.
There is no “one way,” or actual answer here. That is for you to decide.
The key is to get vivid. Imagine it, picture life with you winning, crushing your goals, and keep that in your head when the proverbial shit hits the fan.
This also becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, as when we imagine ourselves in the future, we tend to act in congruence with the picture we have built in our head
Meaning, if I imagine myself jacked and tan and on a beach, subconsciously, I will make decisions that a jacked and tan guy might make, like eating more grilled chicken and less gummy bears (fingers crossed).
3) What are you going to do differently this time?
I’d venture to say, that most people making new years resolutions are not making them for the first time.
It’s probably not the first time in your life that you’ve gotten the idea to eat better, join a gym, or quit whatever shitty vice you’ve been holding on to.
So many people try something, fail, and then just try again .
Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.
And yet here you are, starting the year with another fad diet, another gym membership, or another vow of going cold turkey.
Instead, why not try something different this time around?
Make a plan,
Don’t just decide to change, actively map out HOW you are going to make that change.
This is the real difference maker between those who succeed and those who fail.
People who say “I want to lose 20 pounds” fail at weight loss.
People who say “I want to lose 20 pounds, and here is exactly how…” with a detailed plan, while not guaranteed to succeed, surely have a much higher chance of getting there than their counterparts.
I hope you found this helpful.
Remember, I’m not trying to be a Grinch. I’m not trying to ruin your holiday sprint by saying “you can’t succeed achieving your new years resolutions.”
Quite the opposite, I want you to make it.
I just want you to be realistic, and understand that it takes more than a hope and prayer to make real change in your life.
So, 2020. It’s a new year, a new decade. Nothing is holding you back, reflect on the last year, the last decade, and use that knowledge to look forward and craft a plan.
Create your life. Be proactive. Take control.
If this helped you at all, please share it with someone else who might find it helpful.