Why You SHOULD NOT Set New Year's Resolutions This New Year
Certainly by now, you know that New Year’s Resolutions (NYRs) fail more than 90 percent of the time and therefore should be thrown out by the vast majority, right? Does this mean you should have no aspirations and just give up on change? Of course not!
It’s simply a matter of creating useful, functional and sustainable change. There are a few solid elements necessary for lasting change that NYRs rarely encompass. Let’s look at a couple examples of popular NYRs, to demonstrate why they so often fail and how to turn your aspirations into successful life modifications.
EXAMPLE 1 – WEIGHT LOSS
The most popular NYR is to “lose weight”. While this might be a healthy goal, it has the lowest success rate of any resolution. Why? Weight loss is rarely attached to anything purposeful enough to sustain. Feeling or thinking you’re “too fat” and feeling bad about this isn’t enough to drive lasting results. To experience long-term successful change, deep purpose or meaning is a must and your actions associated with any change have to occur in self-honoring ways. If you really want to lose weight, you need a more meaningful reason than, “I feel / look fat”. Again, this sentiment is not a sustainable reason for losing weight, no matter how much people might want it to be. There are two practical pieces to losing weight- 1) changing your eating habits and 2) adding body movement. Let’s tackle eating first. In my 16 years of experience with chronic “dieters,” one of the most successful ways people create lasting change around eating is through “food education” with documentaries as a primary source and books as a secondary source. The main reason is because education elicits passion, inspiration, zeal, care, gratitude, and SELF-DRIVEN ACTION. Bottom line, people act consistently when they are inspired and fail to act when they are not. Note: This doesn’t take into consideration the element of emotion based eating, but that’s not what this blog is about! So, why are people successful when they’re inspired? If you have no profound connection to attach change of any kind to, you will be forced to rely on will power when you are overly tempted to indulge. I promise, you will fail if this is your primary resource. Not because you’re weak, but because fries, ice cream, and bacon are delicious and have addictive properties-- will power simply isn’t enough, nor built for this purpose. Secondly, body movement is essential for successful and long-term weight loss. Eighty percent of people who exercise “on and off” are practicing body movement, but they are not actually experiencing a mind-body connection. How many times have you tuned out on the elliptical trainer or the recumbent bike without breaking a sweat? You may have been catching up on Days of Our Lives, but I can assure you, you weren’t getting an effective workout. In my old life, I knew this practice all too well. I spent the better part of two decades dis-honoring myself with forms of fitness that I did not enjoy. This kind of workout is not sustainable. Now however, in my gorgeous liberated life, I do only body movement that I love! And what’s more, I engage in body movement effortlessly for 30 minutes to 3+ hours 5 days a week (or more). Here’s the thing, humans do not sustain anything they don’t enjoy! Unless … it is an action that aligns with deep values. For example, you may not enjoy cleaning, but it is valuable on a high enough level to sustain anyway. Fitness is not viewed a necessity or value in the same way, thus it’s unsustainable for these reasons for most people. What have we learned about change from this example?
EXAMPLE 2 – HAVING MORE TIME FOR WHAT’S IMPORTANT
I love this NYR, it embodies great intention. Unfortunately, good intentions are not useful for sustained change. I also love this goal because it’s one of my favorite changes to coach clients through personally and in business. Why does this NYR fail? It’s a frail concept with no real backbone! In truth, we currently live in a society that rewards and promotes frantic busyness, excessive consumerism, and status. Thus, profound meaning is absent from this hopeful change as long as life is aligned with behaviors that are designed to derail your desire for “more time”. The key to more time is first knowing precisely what you are going to use your extra time for and why/how it will impact your life in completely amazing ways (this elicits purpose-driven choices). Temptation toward frantic busyness, excessive consumerism, and status is eminent and everywhere and without being rooted in purpose and meaning, you unfortunately will fail. So discover your profound purpose! Ask yourself:
• Why do I want more time? • Why is _____ important enough to say no to dozens of possible obligations, interruptions, purchases or escapes (TV, alcohol, shopping etc.)? • What do I need to eliminate, remove, and delegate to be able to do what is truly important (family, inspiring work, yoga, etc.)? Contentment, calm and joyful living as it has to do with your time is a lesson in elimination, so that what you are left with is your highest level of deep meaningful relationships, exciting hobbies and inspiring work. Discipline is the next requirement when deploying elimination strategies, especially in a society where temptations to derail are all around us.
What have you learned about sustained change from this example?
In short, the 4 primary elements to promote permanent change are:
1) Create profound meaning as a reason for change. 2) Attach passion or joy to your desired change. 3) Carry out your change in self-honoring ways. 4) Add discipline in thinking and in action to your desired change. Take some time to consider what changes are most valuable to liberating and deepening your life experience and what you will do to ensure permanent change.
Let me know what you'd love to change about your life?