Stop Making New Year’s Resolutions

Instead, take action and do something!

Posted Jan 10, 2017

Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

Welcome to 2017. Could this be your year? The year you change whatever it is you have been thinking about or talking about for a while now? If you have made or will make New Year’s resolutions, you are not alone; almost half of all people surveyed will make a New Year’s resolution of one kind or another. The scarier statistic? Only 8% will achieve them. That’s right. With all of the education, experience, motivation, drive and will that exists out there, only 8% of people will do what they commit to themselves they will do.

This year, let’s change the language and process around making resolutions. First of all, a resolution can be either a future state: “I am going to make this change” or it can be something that is accomplished: “We resolved to finish the meeting on time.” In too many cases when you make a New Year’s resolution, it is future looking: “This will be the year – at some point in time – I will start to exercise more regularly.” It’s time to start looking at resolutions in the NOW. What can you do today that will move you to a new place, or more actively start you on your journey?

Action and decisions to change take both motivation and commitment. All too often a resolution to change something comes from someone else telling you “You need to get out of that job and start making some real money!” So as a first step, ask yourself – who really wants this change? Is it me, and if so why do I want it? Is it coming from someone else, and if so what’s their motivation for me to change? It’s important when goal setting or defining a future state to first experience, right now, the “why?” behind what you want to do. Whose goal is it and why does it matter?

Consider taking a more active role in your change efforts. A process called SHIFT® can help you do this!

If you know your why about what you want, you can start to (S) Specify your desired outcome. Where do you want to go, and what will success look like when you get there? Be specific. This is the key element in goal setting. Don’t start with a vague “someday I will live in a nicer apartment”; instead, define what it looks like. Paint the picture as if you are already there.

Next, look at what’s been in your way in the past. If you really want that ideal, desired state, why aren’t you there now? If I asked that question, you would start to answer with all of the reasons you have not been able to do something – illness, lack of time, lack of money, not knowing what to do. There are a myriad of reasons people don’t get where they want to go. And they are right; there are obstacles in life. There are things that get in the way. They are real! Instead of pretending they don’t exist and being all positive everything will work out, (H) Highlight your obstacles. Know what your personal obstacles are. List them. Examine them. What’s in your control? What can you influence? What’s out of your control? Knowing your obstacles allows you to create a plan of action that takes them into account and doesn’t ignore them.

Next, (I) Identify your human factor. A human factor is any trait you may possess that works for you (commonly called strengths) or against you (commonly known as “areas for improvement”). For each person, there are ways you can be your own best friend and others where you are your worst enemy. Instead of berating yourself, embrace your strengths to help you and put the areas for improvement in your obstacles list. Again, the more self-aware you are, the better ability you have to manage around what’s previously been in your way.

Next, consider that you do have alternatives. (F) Finding alternatives is very freeing, because in most resolutions people believe there is only one path; to lose weight, you must go to the gym three times a week and cut out sugar and fat. That could be true, but there also could be other paths to losing weight that take into account your personal obstacles and your human factor, and that better suit who you are. For example, if you want to lose weight one alternative could be going to the gym and cutting out sugar and fat. Another could be using smaller portions when you eat, taking walks several times a day, learning at-home exercises you can do in the morning or evening, cooking in a different way, etc. There are many paths to the same outcome, and you want to take time to review some options before you decide.

The last important step leads us to the title of this blog, and that is to (T) Take disciplined action. DO something. This is where you identify your plan of action and start to do something each and every day. What’s important is to break it down into small, discrete steps that move you closer each day to your goal. If you are overweight and decide you want to take walks to lose weight, start small; just go outside and walk around for 5 minutes. Instead of saying “I will start to go for a walk three times a day for 20 minutes,” which may never happen, do something in the now. The smaller the steps, the more likely you are to take them.

Instead of thinking this could be your year for change, think “today is my day for change.” Start right now and just keep moving!