Well, it’s another New Year and the time for making new resolutions. Resolution is defined as a firm decision to do or not to do something. Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?
Why then, do we continue to make the same resolutions year after year, yet fail to keep them? For example, I’m always going to “get healthy” – lose weight, build muscle, reduce my cholesterol. Yet, by Valentine’s Day, at the latest, I’m already attempting to justify why I need to eat the ears off the chocolate rabbit. What’s even worse is that I don’t particularly like chocolate.
According to researcher, John Norcross and his colleagues, who published their findings in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, approximately 50% of the population makes resolutions each New Year. Among the top resolutions are weight loss, exercise, stopping smoking, better money management and debt reduction (psychologytoday.com). Yet, the majority of us are not successful in keeping our resolutions.
I think that the moment we draw that line in the sand and call something a resolution, something is triggered in our brains that causes all of our attention to be focused on what we aren’t going to do. We can’t have the dessert because we’re not going to eat sugar. We can’t sleep in because we have to exercise. We’re trying to motivate ourselves to do something positive, yet we view it in a negative light.
Resolutions go “south” even when they’re not about diet or exercise. It could be improving your knowledge about a new technology, or going back to school to train for a new career. It could be taking piano lessons just because you always wanted to play the piano. Even fun resolutions are hard to keep.
Resolutions require change. We have to do something different than we’ve done in the past – and that can be difficult. We have to develop new routines, which may mean less time to “relax” or skipping Friday night out with our friends. But, I think this is why we fail to keep the resolutions. We are focused on changing our habits, but we haven’t changed our minds. We really don’t want to develop a new routine or give up Friday nights to reach a goal.
You may “wish” you could quit smoking, but you enjoy it so much that you really don’t “want” to quit smoking. That resolution will go nowhere because until we change our thinking, the chance of us changing our behaviors is pretty slim.
Some of us also set goals that are too big. We’re going to lose weight, quit smoking, find a new job, pay off our credit cards, and move to a new city all in the next 6 months. We have so many goals that it is unrealistic to expect we will accomplish them. Try setting just 1 or 2 goals instead so it isn’t overwhelming and it is realistic.
And, make those goals specific. State that you are going to lose a specific number of pounds in a specific number of months. Or, you’re going to start taking a class one night a week for the next semester. That way you have a shorter term goal that may be easier for you to hit.
As for me, I’m going to change my thinking. My mantra this year will be – I love broccoli and Brussel sprouts! Happy New Year!