OK. At the risk of sounding un-American, I've got a confession to make. There are a number of holidays and practices that I've always thought were silly. The ones that top my list are: New Year's resolutions (Why should we make inspirational new resolutions only once a year?), Valentine's Day (Why should we treat someone well only once a year?), Mothers' Day (again, why would you only cherish me once a year? although I have to admit the cards my kids make are a complete hoot, good for smiles all year round), and so on...
So here we are in February already, and for many, your New Year's resolutions have become not only a thing of the past, but something that may be making you feel...not so proud of yourself, since it's a commitment you made to yourself, but didn't keep.
Since I believe that you are meant to be your own greatest champion, it just won't do for you to have something that makes you feel less, or down.
So let's explore this to create an inspirational opportunity!
The majority of us make New Year's resolutions in reaction to something. It's usually a thought that sounds something like this: "I can't stand how I look and need to lose weight." or "I've had it with dating all these losers, and want to meet someone who's not a loser!" or "I don't want to get diabetes (or heart disease, or heart attack, or stroke...), so I'm going to get into shape." If you sit with these statements for a moment, you may notice that each of them has to do with avoidance of something unpleasant (disliking one's looks, dating losers, early disease).
However, the absence of something unpleasant is NOT the presence of something inspirational.
And, I would also assert that the absence of something unpleasant is typically not enough to sustain us over the long haul, so when dessert beckons, or those familiar losers look at you in "that" way, we often revert back to our old habits.
Which is why, according to this study, only a measly eight percent of people are actually successful at achieving their New Year's resolutions! (ouch)
So let's dive into this one.
What are the components of a successful resolution?
The first is that it needs to be INSPIRING! It needs to create a picture of the future that you'd want to participate in. I don't mean feeling that it would be nice if something happened, but that it would rock. your. world. Avoiding chronic health issues is great, but not inspiring. Try this one on: I'd like to lose weight so that I have enough energy and vitality to (fill this in with something that excites you! Is it climbing a mountain? Is it learning to dance? Is it running after your kids or grandkids? Traveling the world?). Pick something that creates the kind of future that you want to participate in!
Again, avoiding something bad is not an inspiring future! And for some, avoidance of pain is a pretty good motivator, but for most of us, it's not enough to keep us going when the path gets tough.
The second is that it needs to be measurable. What I mean by measurable is that you can count it, track it, or monitor it. Losing weight is not measurable. Losing one pound a week for twenty weeks IS measurable. Getting healthier is not measurable. Lowering your blood pressure by 20 points within 6 weeks IS measurable. Eating better is not measurable. Replacing a sugary dessert with a piece of fruit every day IS measurable. So is eating four servings of vegetables a day. Cooking at home four nights a week instead of eating out IS measurable.
The third component that makes a successful resolution is twofold.
Part A is that it's public. Yes, I mean tell everyone about it. Post it on your facebook page, email all your friends, post it on your mirror, your car dashboard, and your phone. Set it as a reminder on your calendar. (every day). Get your entire world to root for your success!
Part B is that you have at least one buddy who will hold you to your resolution when you waver. It needs to be someone you trust, who won't sabotage you, whom you're comfortable calling when you're up against it, and who isn't afraid to call you to account. It's probably better if that buddy is not working on the same issue as you, since you may catch them at a weak point and that could derail you both.
The last component is forgiveness.
Humanity happens. Thankfully, since the alternative is worse! There is, truly, no greater gift than forgiveness. Forgiveness holds amazing power, grace and inspiration. So when you slip up, forgive yourself, get over it, and remind yourself of the future that inspired you so much. After all, by the time you recognize you erred, the slip up is already in the past, and there's no use crying over spilt milk! Take a deep breath, call your buddy, go back to step one, and recreate an inspiring future!