Is your New Year's Resolution still on track?
By the time you're reading this, statistically you are suffering from the disappointment of yet another shattered resolution. For the handful of you who are successfully managing, congratulations! The rest of us are impressed by your superstar discipline.
For those, like me, who opted for nachos and wine with a friend instead of a trip to the gym and celery sticks on January 1st; please don't feel bad. New Year's Resolutions are designed to fail. Here's why and what you can do to get back on track.
#FAIL Reason 1: New Year's Resolutions start on the wrong day.
Let's think about it. Starting on January 1st is a recipe for disaster. How were your holidays? Mine were filled with cheesy-Christmas-movie marathons, interjected with family and friend visits over chocolate, wine and fresh baking, which were squeezed in-between more naps than my typical entrepreneurial schedule allows. Can you relate?
Despite how busy the holidays are, our normal high-paced, get-things-done business-brain is switched into low gear. Whenever I've successfully made major life changes, I've succeeded because I had momentum going into the goal. On January 1st many people are hung-over (see nacho comment above), at the very least tired (since typical bedtimes are traded for after the ball drops) and the fridge is filled with leftovers that scream anything but healthy eating. How can we be expected to succeed? How is this the day when you can reasonably start anew with an important major life goal you didn't achieve when you were in high gear?
Solution: Change your start day! Acknowledge the unreasonableness of switching from zero momentum to 100% compliance on the first day of the New Year. Instead wait until the kids are back at school and you're back to your routine. This momentum will make it easier to shift habits. Just as others are realizing they have failed again, you're just getting started on January 18th.
#FAIL Reason 2: They require magic otherwise they take too long.
When I was younger (and possibly wiser), I didn't make resolutions. I thought it was silly to expect that on one specific day people would suddenly give up their vices as if by magic. Let's be candid, that's what we're expecting ourselves to do.
Achieving goals is a process. The bigger the goal the more steps that are required on the road to success. A resolution to drop 40 pounds or build your business beyond six, seven or eight figures requires a lot more than a wish and a positive attitude on day one. Many resolutions require hard work and patience.
The notion of a resolution is that it starts and is accomplished right away. For most of us, the day-to-day reality naturally takes our focus off the huge prize that likely won't be realized for two or three more months. That's a long time to stay focused without a mini-achievement along the way.
Solution: Shift the resolution to be about setting you up for success. For example, "I will create a business plan to reach my financial goals" is much more doable in the foreseeable future than "I will top 7 figures this year." Ask yourself, "What is the underlying activity that has to happen to achieve the big-picture goal?" and make that the resolution instead. You don't need magic to create a plan or learn what you need to do next. Heck, you may complete your resolution by the time others are giving up on theirs.
#FAIL Reason 3: Resolutions don't address the underlying causes.
Is your resolution something you've wanted to do for a long time or have you been carrying around the extra weight without concern and then suddenly noticed it in time for January 1st? I doubt it. You probably spent last year worried about the same issue and wishing it would be different and focused on the New Year as the excuse to do something about it. Unfortunately, there is an underlying habit that has caused your current reality. How can you be expected to change an outcome without first identifying the underlying issues causing the problem?
My weight goes up and down and if I had to guess a resolution theme over the years this would be at the top of the list. The catch is, I know what I need to eat and the physical activity required to lose weight, I just don't always do it. Are you with me on this? There's a big gap between knowing and actually doing. Forcing ourselves to eat healthily, exercise routinely and denounce forever the bad habits that have caused the *hint* of extra pudge is unrealistic.
Solution: Identify the causes of the bad habits you are trying to change and make finding and resolving the underlying issue the resolution instead. For example, maybe you self-sabotage when opportunity arises or you aren't confident asking for the sale. On the personal front, if the goal is to lose weight, then let's stop focusing on the scale and instead make the resolution to identify and address the reason your weight is not ideal.
A big challenge for me is when I see specific foods or pass by a restaurant at a vulnerable time, I can be triggered in a millisecond to eat unhealthy food despite the fact that moments before that food wasn't even a craving. Therefore, I've resolved that I'm going to conquer my impulses by noticing and taking a moment to re-frame my thinking in an effort to make better choices. If I can do that, then the extra weight will disappear naturally. (or at least I'm telling myself that!)
In reality, it doesn't matter if you are way off track on your original New Year's Resolution. If the goal is important to you, then finding a way to achieve it anytime of the year is a priority. I hope the above will help you do just that...with an adjusted start date - today!