I often wonder who came up with the idea to create a list of New Year’s resolutions. A list of all the things we are unhappy with about ourselves, and the “wish” that we will miraculously change over the coming months.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe in change and I believe that each of us has the power within to change practically anything about ourselves. We are that powerful. No, what concerns me about New Year’s resolutions is the way we go about creating these changes.
Often the buoyancy of the holidays (too much cheer, food, spending) gives us a false sense of optimism when it comes to changing lifelong habits. We believe that change will come automatically when we once decide to make that change. Nowhere within the listing stage do we ever ask ourselves, “Can I do this? What plan do I have to succeed? What sacrifices will I have to make? Am I biting off more than I can chew?”
According to a January 2013 article in Forbes magazine only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions succeed. If a doctor wanted to perform surgery on you and then shared with you the fact that in better than 9 of every 10 patients the surgery was an utter failure, would you still agree to go under the knife. I have my doubts. Yet, millions of people will sit down over the coming days and create a list of changes they desire in themselves, yet knowing somewhere deep within, that they are going to fail.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t make New Year’s resolutions? Of course not. Go ahead and make your list, but then do the following:
- Prioritize your list from least important to most important. Then choose the most important item on your list to begin. One item, no more. Once you succeed with this resolution the others will be much easier to attain.
- Plan the next 90 days and how you’re going to succeed. I suggest learning and using SMART goals. You’ll find them in my book Overpowering Fear or just Google them. If you’re going to lose weight ask yourself, “What help do I need to accomplish my goal.” Over the years I’ve used Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem. Choose a system that feels comfortable for you. Don’t think you’re going to accomplish this alone, YOU WON’T.
- (This example can be used for most goals). If your goal is to get more sleep create a log to fill out just before you go to bed. Write down the time you went to bed and if you’re not getting to bed on time, write the reason. Review this log at the end of every week. You’ll see that the reasons you wrote down were meaningless. If it was important for you to watch Scandal to the end, ask yourself, what the episode was about? If you can’t remember then it wasn’t very important.
- Accept the fact that no great change happens without some sacrifice. Whether it be food, time, alcohol, video games, etc. you are going to have to give up something. Prepare to give up the known for the unknown.
- Because you create your life through your thoughts, don’t let thoughts of failure derail you. Done right, you have a greater chance of success than failure. Whenever a negative thought enters your mind causing unwanted fear say to yourself, “Thank you for this thought but I choose not to accept it. Instead I ask for a thought that is just the opposite.” It may sound crazy but it works.
For those who try my plan for accomplishing their New Year’s resolutions, I would love to hear back from you. Tell me your successes and your failures. My goal is to make this work for everyone.