I’ve written earlier about how I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions; mainly because they seem to take hold for a brief period of time before quickly fading away. Chances are at this time of the year someone you know (ahem) may have already had some of theirs fall by the wayside. It’s not something that can be prevented in one fell swoop for most of us because there’s always a reason they don’t stick.
I’m not going to eliminate INSERT BAD HABIT HERE, I’m just not going to do it as much.
I was too unrealistic when I said I would INSERT MASSIVE BEHAVIORAL CHANGE HERE.
I had every intention of doing INSERT MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY HERE, but it just isn’t in me to do it over the long haul.
These are just a few of the “circumstances” that we find ourselves in when we stray from what we’ve resolved to do (or avoid doing) going forward. Putting them down on paper, pledging to others that you’re going to stick to them and even neuro-linguistic programming can’t seem to stop the resolutions form, er, stopping.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
There seems to be a consistency when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions – we almost always set ourselves up for failure instead of success. We put obstacles in our path that prevent us from sustaining these ideals and when we falter we’ve got a myriad of reasons as to why we did. It’s as if you end up being the worst boss you could ever have because you’ve not given yourself a chance to succeed at your job – which is being the best “you” that you can be. Why do we do this to ourselves, year in and year out?
We all want to be – and to do better at – something. Even criminals want to improve (some want to improve at committing crimes and others want to improve by not committing as many – or any), and those with little ambition even want to set goals for how they can better use their time and energy to find ways to minimize it even further. We fail when we try to do too much at once.
This happens when we don’t take the time to really figure out what we should be working on. You could be the best runner in the world but if you are late all the time then you’re not going to have the opportunity to win many races; they all seem to have a particular start time attached to them. Work out what needs working on the most, then go from there. But go slowly…it’s not a race.
Commit To You
What do you need to do to make you more fulfilled? Sure, your spouse may want you to get better at folding laundry or make a concerted effort to cook dinner more often – and that’s fine. But if you’re not committed to doing it for you (which may be the case if you value your relationship with your spouse and know it needs work), then you’re not going to stick to it. The same goes for work. You need to want to do it for you. If others benefit, then that’s a plus you should celebrate.
So what’s the one true way to make sure a New Year’s Resolution sticks?
Have one. Only one.
Sure, it’s the loneliest number – but that’s the point. A singular focus means a singular resolve to stay on track with it. If you decide to work on being more punctual as your only resolution, then you can be certain it can be done if you avoid the pitfalls I mentioned earlier. There’s also a far greater ability to be more specific with the resolution (i.e. rather than “be punctual” it becomes “ensure I’m 5 minutes early to every scheduled activity from here on out”) which allows you to really track your progress. Something measurable is always more valuable.
Once you’ve committed to the one and get really good at it, you’ll more than likely decide to resolve to do something else (or avoid doing something else) to better yourself even further. Hold that thought – at least for three months. That will give you enough time to firmly entrench yourself in what you’ve clearly labelled as your New Year’s resolution. There’s certainly nothing wrong with trying to improve throughout the year, but set yourself up to succeed when it comes to big changes. Consider fostering this singular goal as maintaining your vehicle with oil changes and regular maintenance. You are your own vehicle for success – and failure – after all.
(Oh, and if you do take on another “enhancement project” down the line, don’t label it as a “resolution.” Call it something else – call it a new habit or something similar.)
One thing connected to these “annual albatrosses” that we hang around our necks is that they are so heavy because of all the pressure we put on ourselves to achieve them. Stick to the “one resolution to rule them all” philosophy and it’ll feel like you’re wearing a medal around your neck instead of that really heavy bird.