We are three months into 2012. How many of you are still abiding to your New Year’s Resolutions as you stated them back in January? How many of you have slacked but are going to “pick it up again soon”? How many of you even remember what your resolutions were?
I hate New Year’s resolutions.
Why should important change in our lives only come to the surface once a year? We’re selling ourselves short if the only time we take a hard look at what we are doing or what we want in life only once every 365 days.
To experience a macroscopic change in your life, it all starts at the microscopic level. And the microscopic level is all about habit change. In order to adjust a bad habit, we need to look at the cues – routine – reward loop for why we have that habit in the first place. We need to ask ourselves:
What is it that we are doing and what it is that we want to change?
Without understanding any of that, we’re pretty much dead in the water when it comes to implementing major change to our lives/lifestyle.
Note: If you want to read a great book on habits, read: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business.
But I digress, so let me take a step back. The reasons so many New Year’s Resolutions don’t usually work are because:
They Are Unspecific Or Too Far Fetched
If you made a resolution of, “I want to be healthier this year,” or “I want to start a business doing something I love,” and stopped there, you’d have a better chance at winning the lottery without even purchasing a ticket, than you would getting any result you say you might want.
“Being healthier this year” could mean one less chocolate chip cookie. That’s not what you’re hoping for, is it?
Do you want to start a business or do you want to have a certain amount of clients? Make a certain amount of money? Gain geographic freedom in your life?
For a New Year’s Resolution to work, it has to be grounded in what you do day in and day out.
Productive change needs to happen more often for the change to be ingrained.
If you’re going to have any chance at rewiring your physical habits, you have to first understand the end result you desire, and then you need to break that desire down into digestible chunks.
For instance: “I want to be healthier this year,” should instead be:
- “I want to be healthier this year so I am going to lose X pounds by February 1, 2012.”
This will force you to break that goal up into daily/weekly increments. Then on February 1, you can create another monthly or weekly goal.
Create a tangible goal that can either be reached or not. Don’t leave any middle ground.
No One Is Holding You Accountable
Who is keeping you on track for your resolution? Your goals might still have legs in April if you had someone checking in on you from time to time or if you had an accountability partner. Amazing things happen when you’re accomplishing a goal while supporting someone who is accomplishing hers.
As Clay Shirky said:
Our ability to simultaneously pursue our own goals while being mindful and supportive of other people’s goals is fundamental to human life – so fundamental, in fact that we have trouble turning it off.
If a goal is made but no one is there to hear it, is it still considered failure if it is never reached?
Support from someone else is a key ingredient to keeping you on the right track. You supporting others gives you an added jolt in life that you weren’t expecting.
You Don’t Know Why You Want A Resolution
If you decide to make a resolution simply because that is what one is supposed to do on January 1, the odds that that is going to stand the test of time is as good as an ice cube navigating room temperature. You have to know why you are making this resolution in the first place.
You want to lose weight? Why?
You want to start a business? Why?
You want to spend more time with your family? Why?
Instilling change in our lives isn’t easy so we better be damn sure we know why we’re seeking it in the first place.
Our reason for change is our sword in battle. We must keep it sharp.
So, to hell with the New Years Resolution! We need to embrace new month’s, new week’s and new day’s resolutions. Any day is as good a day as any for new beginnings.
What’s your new day’s resolution?