My one and only New Year resolution is still ongoing and that is to never make any New Year resolutions.
Someone for some reason decided that the New Year is a time to reflect on the changes we want or need to make in our lives and start the year afresh. The unfortunate truth is that 92% of New Year resolutions fail.The first day of the New Year is just another date in another year with 364 other dates that are equally significant for goal setting. So while those who make New Year resolutions have good intentions, most set themselves up to fail by spending more time crafting a resolution list than on planning how to see each one to fruition.
Here are my three steps for setting real goals:
#1. Release The All-Or-Nothing Mentality
A resolution is defined as a firm decision to do or not to do something.
The definition of the word itself may be indicative as to why resolutions do not work – it is an absolute that provides little or no scope for flexibility.
This mentality of working with absolutes is what will unravel you every single time. The all-or-nothing approach, where issues are either black or white with no shades of grey (and we all know that there are at least 50 of them), is far removed from reality.
I used to live my life with absolutes when it came to diets. Diets are traditionally black or white with rules to eat one thing and not another, and this is why they never work. Whenever I gained weight, I would manage this excess weight by dieting. The problem was that the diet always came to an end and the weight came back on. Sound familiar?
When I finally lost 14 kilos some 13 years ago, I did so by allowing myself a daily treat and more flexibility in food choices on the weekends. This meant there was no “wagon” for me to fall off. It was just about making better choices in the grey.
#2. Change Now, Not On New Year’s Day
People with a winner’s mindset never wait for a specific, future date to make a change. They take action now.
I am pretty sure that Thomas Edison did not wait until the New Year to try another version of the electric light bulb. Taking many small steps is far easier to manage mentally than planning large steps that feel too difficult to even start.
If you want to improve your fitness it may seem too overwhelming to get to the gym for an hour each day. Think about smaller blocks of time and this decision will become less daunting. Your first small steps could mean thinking about the kind of activity that would interest you and then deciding on the first step.
#3. Learn From Past Mistakes
When you look back at the year, rather than beat yourself up for what you did wrong, reflect and learn from your slip-ups instead. What were the emotional triggers associated to your patterns? How can you be better prepared for those triggers next time?
Making long lasting changes in your life is not about making spontaneous or impulsive decision to transform into a new person with sparkling new habits on the first day of a brand new year. It is about consistently reassessing your habits every day and making small and achievable positive changes until you get what you set out to do.