Why I’m Not Making New Year Resolutions
Another New Year celebration is over. As our planet begins another journey around the sun, so we start our quest for perfection vis a vis New Year’s Resolutions! While most of us are on board with improving our personal and professional life, resolutions may not be the best way to achieve our goals.
Studies show that only 9.2 percent of us complete new year resolutions. What’s even worse is that 80% fail by February. Why are failure rates so stunningly high and what can we do to improve our chances for success?
Why our resolutions fail.
There are several reasons why so many of us crash and burn when it comes to the promises we made in the final days of the outgoing year. We are swept up in those moments when we feel buoyant and inspired about all the glorious opportunities we anticipate in the upcoming twelve thirtyish day blocks of time on the calendar. We feel invincible and as if there is nothing we can’t accomplish. We see traits of Mario Batali, Mary Barra and Marie Kondo in ourselves. And so we launch another year with too many expectations and unrealistic goals, setting ourselves up for another epic fail.
Typically it may look something like this: after work rush to gym, hurry home to cook healthy meal, clean up kitchen, spend quality time with family, tidy up before bedtime, squeeze in hour dedicated to reading the classics before passing out from exhaustion. During the process obsess about how to manage that volunteer gig, cello lessons, and the online photography course you signed up for yesterday and completely declutter your entire home before the end of the month.
And we make lists of resolutions. Long lists…
- Lose weight
- Exercise daily
- Cook more often
- Save money
- Read 100 books
- Spend more time with family
- Make new friends
- Reconnect with old friends
- Get a new job
- Learn to play an instrument
- Take self-improvement course
- Learn to speak French
- Start a blog
- Quit smoking
- Travel more
- Entertain more
We set the stage for a colossal crash when we think we are Wonder Woman or Superman. We are human, there are 24 hours in the day, and we need to sleep. No matter how good a time manager you may be, if you set unrealistic expectations, you won’t meet them. When you fall short, the desperation that is failure overpowers you. If the desired results have been elusive, try a different approach.
That's why, this year, no resolutions for me. I am exchanging resolve for intent. Intentions are much less rigid since they are not an all or nothing situation. Here are suggestions on how to make intentions work for you in the new year.
Write down your intentions and journal your progress.
Highly successful people like Bill Gates, Oprah, Richard Branson, and others keep a journal. When you purposely put your intentions into a written format, they are much more tangible. Also, it becomes a way to keep track of your progress.
Keep your intentions general.
Don’t be too specific when you make plans. Remaining flexible gives you more options and allows you the opportunity to make actual improvements to your life.
Examples of common intentions and goals
Intention: Adopting a Healthier Lifestyle Physically and Emotionally
Goals: Lose weight, go vegan, exercise more, meditate, practice yoga or tai chi, spend time with family and friends, run a marathon, take a spin class, work with a personal trainer, quit smoking, quit drinking, bike to work, do a century ride, learn to kick-box, join a gym.
Intention: Get Control of Finances
Goals: determine net worth, control spending, establish a budget, save money, start an IRA, invest in the stock market, take a course on financial management, improve credit score, pay off debt, pay off mortgage, buy a home, invest in real estate, set up an emergency fund, start a college fund, start a business, invest in a startup, open a savings account
Intention: Improve Professional Life
Goals: Find a new job, make a career change, get a college degree, get an advanced degree, learn a trade, secure an internship, become a mentor, start a business, publish a book, launch a blog, publish a professional article, take a public speaking course, join the Chamber of Commerce, work for a political campaign, attend a professional conference, subscribe to a business publication, read a book by an expert in your field
Intention: Expand Horizons
Goals: get a new hobby, learn a craft, take art courses, learn to paint, learn to garden, learn a new language, read more, journal, write poetry, take a writing class, explore your local library’s resources, volunteer, attend a church service, join a book club, join a social group, sing in the choir, join a community theater group
Set goals to support your intentions.
Suppose that “Adopting a healthier lifestyle” is your intention. You can set your monthly/weekly/daily goals to achieve it. If you choose “losing weight” or “exercising daily” or “eating healthier” as your goals, decide what adjustments are necessary so that will happen. Keep your goals achievable and build on your success.
Limit the number of intentions to avoid being overwhelmed.
Because this is a flexible process, instead of working on all your intentions at one time, you may prefer to work them throughout the year. As you move forward adopting your new guidelines for living, goals become habits. As you weave them into the fabric of your life, you will be ready to layer on more.
You can work on all your intentions during the same time frame.
Each person will have individual priorities, and some intentions do not take a great deal of time to achieve. For instance, if this year you want to take control of your finances, there may be some upfront investment in time. For example, reviewing your spending habits, creating a budget, setting up automatic savings account deductions will only need your attention to establish and not to maintain.
Your intentions and time management
Say, for instance, you intend to expand your knowledge or expertise, and you set a goal of learning to play an instrument. That is going to require you to schedule time not only for lessons but for practice sessions and should be a daily activity. If you are taking a course, you may have summers free, and that will be a great time to plant and tend a garden if that was one of your goals.
When you manage and set your goals from this perspective, they become your time management blueprint. The best part is, you can make adjustments along the way. At the end of the year, if you have met even only one of those goals under your intention category, you have been successful.
Change is not easy. The majority of us don’t really like change. Our comfort zone is warm and cozy. We adhere to the familiar, even when it isn’t working for us because the unknown is, well scary and failure is humiliating. However, please don’t dismiss the effectiveness of small changes. They can result in significant improvements in our lives. Positive change brings success that is both intoxicating and inspiring.
This year set your intentions and establish those achievable goals and prepare to have an outstanding year. What have you got to lose?
Happy New Year From the Team!
Joe Houghton - Team Leader