Statistically speaking, your shiny new resolution is going to fail. But it doesn’t have to if you decide to dig a little deeper. Each year, as the calendar resets, our culture encourages us to wipe the slate clean and have a new beginning. But just like life and business, a good idea alone doesn’t make something happen. A great idea with the right amount of problem definition, planning, and tools makes something happen. A resolution by definition is, “A firm decision to do or not do something.” Do you see yet why this is set up to fail? Even as amazing as we all are, humans are not designed to be able to accomplish things based on decision alone. Making a decision influenced by the date of the calendar and our cultural influences, or the influences of the billion-dollar fitness/wellness industry will not be your new habit loop.
Secondly, look at the time of year. I recently read something intriguing. It referenced all of the resolutions to hit the gym and lose 20 lbs during the time of year where nature is still doing the opposite. Like it or not, we are products of our environment. Winter is a time to slow down, conserve, rest, and rejuvenate. The sun, the weather, and all other living things are telling us this. Our evolved human egos are just too stubborn to listen. We just got off of a few months of manufactured holiday craziness filled with traveling, rushing, stress, anxiety, fabricated expectations, and unhealthy traditions. Now you’re telling your mind to immediately change what it’s doing solely on the basis of will and a few inspirational quotes. Seems like a set up for failure to me.
Lastly, I’m willing to bet your resolution didn’t come with a huge serving of discovery and reflection pie. Identifying a positive change that can influence your life is super awesome. Not digging into why you don’t do that already, or how you got into a rut, or why this particular topic made it to the top of your list is another red flag of failure destiny. Don’t put a Band-Aid on your bleeding artery. Discover the root cause of why your wound is there in the first place.
The good news is, we’re wired for adaptation and improvement. I’d argue that January is a good time not to start your resolution actions, but for starting the process of a resolution. Don’t hit the gym, or clean out your closet, or throw away all of your snacks just yet. Simply write down your resolution with the intent of it being a future decision you’ll make about your life…when you’re prepared. Then spend January caring for yourself by investigating your why behind it. You could journal, or talk to a friend, or find people like you on a message board and read their stories to discover yours. The options of discovery are vast. Once they lead you down a path of reflection and enlightenment around your true why, then you can set realistic and measurable goals and start working on a true plan.
A resolution that doesn’t include a specific and measurable goal is by definition going to fail. There’s no way to measure success. So, unless you figure out your why, then articulate exactly where you’re at now and where you want to be, you have no way of knowing if you’re making progress. Goal setting can be tedious and annoying, but it is essential. The hard work now will pay off later with a big dopamine drip for you when you hit a milestone.
The saying goes; failure to plan is a plan to fail. There’s truth in this. Once you’ve discovered what you need to solve, then take just as much time planning all of the ways you can solve it. You may need to figure out how to fit this new habit into your lifestyle without giving anything up. You may need to set reminders on your phone, or join a support group. You may need to put post it notes on your wall or hire a professional. This is your game, your rules, and your dedication. Play it how you want knowing you’re fully responsible for the amount of success at the end.
If you invest in your process and take the appropriate time, you may just be able to take advantage of some natural timing to help you along. Imagine hearing the birds return, and watching the sun rise earlier while buds start forming on the trees and you blossom into your new mental and physical routine sparked by a thoughtful, insightful, and meaningful resolution. Sounds amazing. I always wondered why the stretch of January to spring felt so long and depressing. I believe it’s because we’re missing this part of the process in ourselves. Forget the notion that you can count to midnight and at the tick of a clock, things will be different. Engage with the time differently, and maybe you’ll find something amazing at the end.
I hope you declare, discover, set specific goals, create a realistic plan, and crush your 2019 resolution.