Oh, it’s the time of resolutions – but I ask you: Why do you have to wait until the New Year to make a change? I ask myself that too – why do we need a starting point when we can make a change any month, week, day, minute or second?
Sure, the New Year provides a starting point – but with all the pressure to make a resolution and then stick to it, the New Year also involves lots of drama. You fail on your New Year’s Resolution and, by December, you end up right where you started, or worse off, than last year.
About 50% of the population makes resolutions, according to the Journal of Clinical Psychology – but only 8 percent of those actually succeed in getting them to stick says University of Scranton research. Why do so many resolve, only to fail? You vow to visit the gym, stop smoking, save money, lose weight, declutter…to reinvent yourself and make yourself into a “better” person only to feel worse and defeated.
The problem is – you aren’t always ready to make those changes on January 1, especially if the resolution is a habit change. Your chances are worse if it’s a bad habit. Often, resolutions involve unrealistic or extreme expectations that set you up for failure from the get-go. Sometimes, we look at the resolution as punishment – December 31st becomes the last day “you can eat a treat” “have a cigarette” or “avoid the gym.” January 1 begins the deprivation, the torture…the suffering. This reinforces that our resolution is something to dread and that to achieve it is a tremendous challenge – which, perhaps, subconsciously, sets us up for failure.
So instead of looking at the New Year as the “perfect” time to make change, look at changes as something you can do anytime. And, if you fail to adhere to your new goal – you can bounce back and pick it up again at any moment. For example, if you want to eat more healthfully – but end up inhaling a pizza – don’t continue in a downward spiral of binge eating until the next week starts and you can begin again – start again the moment you realize you’re off track. You always have the chance to change.
Whenever you do decide to make change – accept that you’ll face a little rub. If the changes are drastic enough, that rub may come from your family and friends – but most likely, it will come from inside you. This resistance is normal and you have to push through. Resolution, commitment and success take work.
For your change to succeed – whether it’s a January 1st resolution or a decision to make change right here, right now – you’ll need strategies:
1) focus on changing one thing at a time – multiple changes means your focus is split and you have a greater chance of failing on all your resolutions
2) make your resolution/change goal specific – you can measure progress, success or lack thereof more readily (eating more healthfully isn’t a specific goal, but swearing off soda is)
3) move slowly, accept setbacks, but keep trucking along toward your desired result
4) tell people your goals – you’re more likely to be accountable if you have a buddy or friends cheering you on — expecting results
5) change requires a shift in thinking; continually remind yourself of your goal – hang up stickies with affirmations, post pics of your goal, make a vision board
6) when you’re feeling defeated, think – “what is the one thing I can do at this moment to help me reach my goal?” – no matter how small the step, it means your goal and ambition are at the forefront of your mind and that is a step toward success.
I respect resolutions – it means you crave challenge, change and progress rather than the stale status quo. Just remind yourself that you don’t have to tolerate that status until January 1 – today is your day.