New Year’s Resolutions. We all make them because on December 31st we are coming into a new year and it is just the norm to set new goals, new hopes, and new aspirations. Besides, if last year wasn’t very good- who wants to repeat it? So, we throw out big dreams, yell out outrageous desires, and write down impossible goals. Only to dismiss them and forget about them before the end of February. Why? Why do we go through the hoopla of this tradition year after year when they don’t come to pass? If resolutions don’t work, why do we go through the motions every year?
Before we talk about why resolutions don’t work and discuss a better alternative that works 80% better, Let’s look at the 10 most common resolutions.
10 Most common New Year’s Resolutions:
Get better job
Get better education
Did you see one of your 2011 resolutions there? Here’s a better question, did you have one of these as your 2010 resolution? Here is the ultimate question, did you accomplish your 2010 resolution? If not, don’t feel bad. Most didn’t. So, why do we continue to make resolutions year after year and never accomplish what we said we would at the beginning of each year? Here’s the answer, New year’s resolutions are not supposed to be accomplished? Does that surprise you? Let me explain.
The word resolution means “a formal determination”. To determine means to proclaim, hope or desire. In other words, a resolution is nothing more than a wish. You wish to lose weight. You wish to save money. You wish to get a better job. However, when one wishes and adds no action to them, they are only dreaming. What happens when you wake up from dreaming, usually nothing. So it is in the month of February. After the newness of New Years have worn off and the commonality and the familiar begins to settle in, you wake up from your dreams- and nothing happens. Everything that you resoluted (wished) to do has fallen by the wayside and you find the familiar footsteps of yester-year and start the routine all over again. Is there a better way? You bet.
First of all, we have to get rid of the word “resolution”. Like we mentioned before, resolutions are nothing more than dreams. So, what word can we use to replace resolution? It has to be something that speaks “action” and not merely about dreaming. How about achievements, acts, fulfillments, or accomplishments. All these words speak of action. Not only that, but they speak of something that has already been completed and not something you wish to complete. That makes a world of difference. For the sake of this discussion, I will use the word “acts”.
So, how do we get our New Year’s Acts to work? I am glad you asked. There are three things that must happen in order to fulfill the acts you have established at the beginning of the year:
Have something to accomplish
Map out what you want to accomplish
Set achievable dates
For the most part, we get step number one right. We know what we want to accomplish or achieve. We want to lose weight. We want to go back to school. We want to get a better job. We want to de-stress our lives. However, this is where we stop and ultimately the reason our plans- FAIL.
The second part is important. You have to dissect or breakdown in smaller pieces what you want to accomplish. For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds by June, you have to lose 5 lbs a month. You have to change your exercise schedule monthly. You also have to change what you eat or don’t eat per month. That may sound difficult, but it is really simple. Is it easier to lose 5 lbs or 30 lbs? Well, 5 is the correct answer. If I asked you could you lose 5 lbs, you would probably say “of course”. So the key is losing 5 lbs in Jan, losing 5 in Feb, then in March and so on. You may also want to change one exercise routine in Jan, then add another in Feb, then another in March. Same with your eating habits. Change one habit in Jan, then another in Feb, then one in March and so on. Before long, you will be in the month of June minus the 30 lbs you started with. You heard the saying, how do you eat an elephant- one bite at a time. That is so true in many ways.
Thirdly, you have to set achievable dates. A person who sets dates will achieve 50-80% more than someone who doesn’t. Dates don’t have to be too specific or too broad. One lady who was trying to stop smoking said that every 15 days, she would smoke 1 cigarette less from her average cigarette daily routine. Simply put, she started out smoking 10 cigarettes a day. Every 15 days, she cut out one cigarrette. By the end of May, she was down to only one cigarette a day. By June 15th, she stopped smoking altogether. Setting dates is very important. Not setting dates is what keeps your desires in the “dream” arena and away from the “action” one.
There you have it. If you want to do more than dream this year and greatly desire to see changes in your life, follow the three steps listed above. They will get you to where you want to get to. Fortunately, these are also universal steps. In other words, they will not just work for the beginning of the year but if you apply them in any other area in your life, they will work there too.
Remember, no more resolutions. Call them New Year’s Acts or something that amplifies that action is taking place and that you are not just dreaming. When you do that, you will see results.