Champagne glass in hand, all excited for the coming year, I prompted a conversation about resolutions. A family member's answer was “ The only successful New Year resolution I've ever made, is not to make any”. This was as the countdown to 2019 began, perhaps a little too last minute to change his mind. It got me thinking about this tradition and why New Year resolutions are so seldom achieved.
So on a new found mission to make my hastily scribbled list a reality, I chatted to more people, I did some reading and I reflected a little on why my previous resolutions haven't stuck. I wanted to share my new found wisdom.
1. Intention is far more important than “musts” and “shoulds” - the immediate tendency with being told to do something, is to rebel even if we told ourselves to. On that note, if your resolution is about meeting someone else's expectation, it does not have your intent behind it and chances are, you will let it go somewhere around February.
By making the resolution more about the intention, we create a sense of direction instead of destination, of moving forward instead of arriving. This makes every action towards the intention a success. The key is to believe that you can and replace all negative self talk with positive, kind words.
2. Deprivation and punishment are not motivating. Make the goal more about what you are gaining than what you may feel you will be “giving up”. It is easier to stick to something when you are visualising the reward instead of avoiding the punishment.
3. Dream BIG !! Then break it down into segments to avoid the BIG becoming the overwhelming. Create a plan and check in with yourself on a weekly basis. I am going to repeat, be kind to yourself. Be willing to adjust your environment or circumstances where possible, to alleviate obstacles and know that moving a few of this weeks tasks to next week is not a big deal. Remember the BIG DREAM, don't derail it completely because this week didn't work out the way you'd hoped. Follow your intention and move forward. Celebrate EVERY success.
4. The why is far more valuable than the how. The desire creates personal meaning and even when the how aspects get a little tough, the why remains motivating. If your why is because you should or must, read the first one again and reevaluate whether this resolution deserves to be on your list. When you write down the resolution, write down the reason for it too. Go back to the reason when you feel the resolution coming unstuck.
5. There is a belief that we are “innately perfect and that our job is to come home to that”. Nothing about your resolutions needs to be more perfect, nothing about your actions towards your goals, needs to be more perfect. If you wait for every star to align and every T to be crossed, you will likely never start. If you look at what is missing in everything you achieve, you will probably not continue. Celebrate how perfect you are in your imperfection and enjoy the journey.
My original hastily scribbled list now represents a number of ways to leave this year feeling like I have not achieved what I set out to. So, my options were to follow the advice and abandon the concept altogether or take another look and start over.
And so, the fireworks and champagne have come and gone and we are fast approaching that awkward time when it is too late into January to be wishing each other Happy New Year and my list of resolutions has yet to be finalised, but I am more positive about the direction I am taking and less inclined to feel that I have complied with an expected tradition.
If you had decided to abandon yours, perhaps you will reconsider. Keep them simple, quality over quantity and most of all let each one be meaningful and life enriching for you.
Happy 2019. May all your dreams come true !