The Solutions for Resolutions
New Year’s resolutions are your mission statements for change. Of the 45% of people who make New Years resolutions, less than half of those count themselves successful. Why? More often than not, this is because the resolution is not structured for victory. Fortunately, there is a simple solution which lies in getting to the route of the impulse for change. I ask my clients two questions when they tell me they want to make a change: “Why don’t I do this already?” and “Why am I compelled to do this now?”
Asking these questions will allow you to uncover the barriers or the practical reasons why you are setting this intention, which then let you structure an equally practical approach to success. If you say, “I have 10 hour workdays and don’t know when I can find the time to exercise”, that’s a legitimate concern. Seattle has one of the top 10 longest work weeks of any city in the nation. If you fight your alarm in the morning, getting up earlier might not be the best approach. Instead, you might commit to mini workouts; 10 squats an hour, hold a plank as long as you can once a day. Walk or run up and down 10 flights of stairs a few times a day or take a walking meeting. By breaking your goals down into smaller chunks, you’re able to bypass the barrier to achieving your resolution.
The second question is about discovering your underlying motivation for change. For example, “I don’t like what I see in the mirror, so I need to lose weight”, is inherently a negative motivation. Can you reframe that with, “My body deserves to be healthy and I can change my habit to support that value”? This helps you in two ways; It breaks the story of feeling inadequate and becomes a positive, active reminder that you are in charge of your fate.
Once you restructure your New Year’s resolution to fit your practical circumstances and have a touchstone motivation that stems from a positive mindset, write it down. Proclaim it on social media, make it into a magnet on your refrigerator, make it the title of your iPhone alarm, put a sticky note on your steering wheel, anywhere that it can be a continuing reminder of what you want to do and why. Follow these simple steps to greatly increase your chances of success.
One last thing. Nobody is perfect. What happens if you slip up? First, practice self-forgiveness. What would you say to a friend who made a mistake? You wouldn’t say “Nice try, I guess you suck at resolutions and they are stupid anyway.” Of course not! You’d say, “Get back on that horse! You made a decision to make a positive change for a reason, keep at it, you’ll get there.” So practice telling yourself the same thing because it’s great advice!