For maybe a few hours or even a few days you actually believe you’re going to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions.
But you won’t. You and I both know this if you’ve tried New Year’s Resolutions for the past 5 years running.
Forget your New Year’s Resolutions and make real changes instead.
And you know what? Start today. Start this minute.
Forget some idyllic date or time and start now.
Because if you want to change, and I mean really, then the time is now.
Let’s go through this.
Before you go diving into goals (which to be honest, I love to do), let’s take a little time for reflection.
First let’s distinguish between what your head and your heart want for the year to come.
Your head can tell you what you “should” be doing, but the heart will always win.
If you sit down and close your eyes, and ask yourself “what is it that my heart wants this year?”, what does it tell you? It’ll probably be the first thing that comes to mind. And it may surprise you.
This is something to pay attention to.
Before diving into New Year’s Resolutions, lets reflect more first;
- What worked this last year?
- What didn’t work this last year?
- What is your heart’s deepest desire?
If you’ve got the answers to those questions, then you’re ready to start looking at your year ahead.
Just don’t go ahead and plan more of what didn’t work.
Why don’t people stick to New Year’s Resolutions
Here are a few reasons people don’t stick to New Year’s Resolutions apart from the fact that people usually think too much about the outcome and not about the habits and behaviour that change the outcome;
- Unrealistic Expectations: Many people set ambitious or unrealistic goals without considering their current habits, lifestyle, or the time and effort required to achieve them.
- No Clear Plan: Setting a resolution is just the first step. Without a well-defined plan of action, that address behaviour, there’s no game plan and change is just a dream.
- Impatience: Some people expect instant results and become discouraged when they don’t see immediate changes. A New Year’s Resolution is not a January affair – it’s a change for good!
- Failure to Adapt: Life is dynamic, and unexpected challenges can WILL arise. When faced with obstacles, some people just give up.
- Not Addressing the Root Cause: Resolutions often focus on the surface level of behavior without addressing underlying issues or motivations. If you don’t understand why you overeat or why you binge drink or why you avoid committed relationships then nothing, my friend, is going to change in the long term.
- All-or-Nothing Mentality: Often we view things in black and white, where we’re either winning or we’re a complete failure. Then we quit because we feel like crap.
- Overcoming Habitual Behavior: Breaking old habits and establishing new ones requires consistent effort. That means day-in and day-out.
And the big one? Lack of Intrinsic Motivation: If resolutions are driven by external pressures or societal expectations rather than personal values and motivations, they’re never going to stick.
Do you really want to change?
Your husband keeps urging you to join him at the gym. That is not a reason to change.
When you last saw a good friend, she looked in amazing shape and you envied her. That is also not a reason to change.
The doctor told you that you need to stop smoking. Also not a reason to change.
Let me tell you how you know you’re really ready to change.
You know that you’re ready to change for one and one reason only; because you decide it and you decide it for a reason that has real meaning to you.
If you want to change because you think you should or because someone else thinks you should, it just won’t stick. And that’s the problem with New Year’s Resolutions.
Find your why?
What do you want to change and why? And don’t bother to tell me why.
Look at yourself in the mirror and see whether it’s compelling enough.
Your why is either going to come from a place of pain, like I don’t want to feel crap about myself any more.
Or your why is going to come from a place of desire. You’ve been wanting to feel a certain way for years or achieve a certain goal for years and now’s the time to do it!
Stop lying to yourself
Change, like life, is simple but complex. It’s a simple matter of ABC; accountability, believe and consistency.
So let’s start at accountability.
If you want to change an aspect of your life, you’re going to have to stop lying to yourself.
“It’s their fault”
“It’ll never work because…”
We lie to ourselves all the time. So much so that we begin to believe them. And then we justify that things are the way they are.
Things aren’t the way they are.
Too often that’s the lie. It is what it is.
Yes of course we live in systems and so often our behaviour is as a result of the system of which we find ourselves but it’s not the end of the story. For instance, most of us live in the processed food system but that doesn’t mean we can’t eat more healthy whole ingredients, to give you one example.
We live in a capitalist system which requires us to make money in order to have the things we want but that doesn’t mean we have to give away our lives to it.
So you see here, we are as a result of the context and environment in which we find ourselves but that doesn’t mean it dictates the end game.
Is it harder to workout if it’s cold and snowing? Yes. Is it an excuse to stop working out? No.
You can apply this to all things.
It helps if we stop lying to ourselves, take accountability and decide what it is we really want.
Think consistent new habits, not overnight perfection
New Year’s Resolutions are often based on some ridiculous idea we have of our perfect selves. The irony is that we can only shift our behaviour when we realize we’re not perfect and when we find new habits.
I’m going to …….(insert something like “stop drinking”) cold turkey from 1 January.
When we do this, it’s because we haven’t thought about the other parts of ourselves. What about the part of you who loves to go out with your girlfriends for a glass of wine on a Friday?
How are you going to reason with her?
Isn’t it funny how so many New Year’s Resolutions start with the word ‘stop’? How about instead finding a habit that you could stick to, like working out, that would shift things for you?
Working out 4-5 days a week is likely to leave you feeling so good that you probably won’t want to drink every day.
Or how about shifting the way you eat instead of cutting out a whole food group, like carbohydrates?
What new habit could you find to support the change you want? This is much more beneficial and likely to stick than eliminating something.
I love how Serena Martino states it as embracing direction, not goals.
Forgive yourself for where you are and move forward
The way in which we approach change is as fundamental as the process itself. The fact is that as human beings, we make mistakes. No one is immune to this; it is just our readiness to accept this fact, or not, that keep us stuck.
The sooner we accept our mistakes or the situations, in which we find ourselves, the sooner we will be able to move forward. After all, a person cannot walk across the road without taking the first step and taking the first step requires an understanding of where we are in the
It doesn’t matter how many times we think we may have failed, the only way forward is to forgive ourselves and move forward. The concept of forgiveness is a big one and often underestimated.
There is ALWAYS a new beginning
Trust me when I say that there is ALWAYS a new beginning. Always. Get up, and start again.
The NEW game plan for New Year’s Resolutions
Okay so what’s the game plan? How do you make change as easy as ABC, or New Year’s Resolutions stick?
- Name the change I.e. What it is your really want?
- Find your why
- Find the root cause of your negative behaviour e.g. overeating, binge drinking etc.
- Write down and adopt ONE new habit you’re going to take up in pursuit of the change
- Write down the strategy you’re going to have for when you inevitably have a bad day
- Track progress and most of all how you feel on a monthly basis. I do this here on my spreadsheet each month. Feel free to make a copy.
- Visualize success each night before you go to sleep
The most sure fire way to sabotage your own success is to become obsessed by something so there’s no need to obsess about this. Just take up the new habit and carry on. I have a 1336 day streak on Duolingo but there have been one or two days over the years when I’ve forgotten. That’s ok.
How it looks in real life
- My change was to learn to speak Spanish
- Because I wanted to integrate into my new home in Spain.
- To be honest I never had a root cause of negative behaviour so that didn’t apply here. It did however apply to me in my food habits.
- I said I’d do one lesson of Spanish every single day.
- I have had bad days when I’ve forgotten or was travelling but then I simply went back to my why.
- I’ve tracked my progress in Spanish over 3 years. Am I where I want to be? No. Can I go to therapy in Spanish? Yes
- I always imagine myself having a glass of wine and laughing with my friends in Spanish. It seems to have worked because it happens in real life every week.
Want to change?
Download my free eBook on Change.
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A practical guide for instigating life change!