We’ve all done it! Made New Year Resolutions at midnight on December 31st and by January 31st they’re a dim and distant memory.
There are two key reasons for this:
- trying to change lifetime habits over night
- trying to go it alone
Sure, we can keep a few of the resolutions during our life, for most, it is a losing battle.
One simple thing we can do immediately is key to how we perceive and act on resolutions. When we make these promises to ourselves, we should drop the ‘re’ bit of the word and concentrate instead on the ‘solutions’.
This simple change in your thinking shifts how you think about what you’re promising. Usually a resolution focuses on what you want to change, and that usually means giving something up. The brain naturally rails against loss. In fact, the thought of losing something automatically increases its value! This is known as the loss aversion bias (Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, 1992).
Instead of thinking about resolutions, think about solutions. Think about what you will gain. And celebrate small wins. Remember too that there is no success or failure; there are results. See everything as data that tells you whether you are on track or going off track. And an opportunity to assess your goals – are they still as important as when you set them?
Holding lightly to your end goal gives you a better chance of seeing everything you do as an opportunity for learning and growth. Trying to change habits of a lifetime overnight runs the risk of burn out and disappointment. Plus, the way habits form and reform require purposeful practice.
Habit formation and re-formation is as much a science as it is a practice. Having a goal is one thing – working out what systems you’ll put in place to get you there is something different.
Trying to do this alone is hard work. Staying on message with your system takes effort. Paying attention to what you’re doing and how you’re doing it is where having the help of a non-judgemental and uncritical third party pays dividends.
Some coaching clients think that setting a resolution is the start and end point. Getting clear on why you’ve chosen that solution is where we start and clarifying your commitment to the change is where the work continues.
Defining an overall strategy and working out the small action steps you’ll take is one of the ways to make your re-solutions stick.
Once you’ve practised a new solution for your resolutions, you’ll realise that you can start work on a new resolution at any time of year.
As someone once told me:
“The power of personal change is just too good to be limited to the first few days of the year. And it really is possible to keep every resolution without fail”
This January I’ll be coaching small groups to share some of the discoveries of how to create resolutions for any time of year. Find out more here – Keep Your Resolve