Yes, that’s right New Year Resolutions are a complete waste of your time.
You might throw your hands up in horror “But I do New Year Resolutions every year“. And that may well be true. But how often do you make a resolution that you keep? Right until the end of the year. 12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days. Quite. Point made.
The thing about New Year Resolutions is that we tend to make them after the excesses of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. When we feel bad or guilty about what we have eaten or drunk. We reflect on what we have done (or not done) over the past 12 months and hear the voice inside our head telling us “you’re overweight“, “you don’t exercise enough” or “you’re not good enough”.
First celebrate your achievements in 2016
We often don’t take time to properly celebrate and acknowledge our achievements over the past 12 months and instead focus on our non-achievements. We forget 98% of the things we DID do and remember the 2% of things we DIDN’T do. Before you even think about making New Year Resolutions (I know what you’re thinking – “hang on a minute, didn’t you start out by saying they’re a waste of my time” – bear with me) it’s important to take time to celebrate and acknowledge, what you have done. Then you are in a strong position to make 2017 your best year ever.
New Year Resolutions CAN work
New Year Resolutions can work IF you do them properly.
New Year Resolutions work when the outcome is IMPORTANT to you. When you are EMOTIONALLY invested in the outcome. When you have planned HOW you are going to achieve the resolution. And it needs to be SPECIFIC. (If you want the psychology behind setting goals that work, check out these two articles on goal setting and goal striving by guest blogger Katy in 2014).
Why is it important
Let’s take ‘getting fit’ as a typical example of a New Year Resolution. First you need to be clear in your own mind that getting fit is important to YOU. Your Resolution is doomed to failure if you want to get fit because somebody else thinks that what you should do. (Or you think that somebody else thinks you should). Get clear on the benefit of getting fit. When you get fit, what will you be able to do instead?
You need to be emotionally invested i.e. you need to know how you will feel when you achieve the goal (i.e. how you will feel when you get fit). Will you feel happy? Proud? Satisfied? Sense of achievement? How will you feel if you don’t achieve it?
Strategy and action plan
And it’s no good just having the New Year Resolution – you need a strategy and an action plan to support you. You need to be clear as to HOW you are going to achieve that goal. To get fit, you might consider adopting healthier eating habits. Changing your shopping habits. Do more exercise. Be more active e.g. walk to the train station instead of taking the bus every day. Join a running club.
Finally you need to be specific about what ‘getting fit’ means to you. Getting fit means different things to different people. You might want to get fit so you can run around in the park with your children. Perhaps you want to do parkrun every weekend. Maybe getting fit is about feeling differently about your body.
What to ask yourself
If you want to be confident that you will achieve your goals or keep your resolutions, here are a few simple questions that you can ask yourself.
- What is bothering me most in my life right now?
- What do I want instead?
- What else?
- How will that benefit me?
- What will I get out of it? And what about others?
- What needs to change to achieve this?
- Who or what can help me to achieve this?
Now picture yourself in the future. You have achieved the goal. Now ask yourself:
- What can I hear?
- What can I feel?
- How do I feel?
- What can I see?
- What can I smell?
- Who else is with you?
- What are others saying?
- What are others seeing? Feeling? Hearing?
When you visualise yourself in the future, you set your intentions. You are more likely to achieve your goal or resolution. You could even draw a picture to represent your goal or create a vision board. You’ve heard of elite athletes visualising their success. Muhammad Ali is famous for using this technique known as Future History to predict his success in the ring.
Are New Year Resolutions really a complete waste of time?
Maybe not. But they only work if you WORK at them. Personally this year I am not creating New Year Resolutions. I don’t have to wait until 1 January to decide what I want. I set resolutions (or goals, intentions – whatever you like to call them) at the start of every week. I use a vision board too. But none of these work on their own. What I am going to do for 2017 is to focus on two themes (for me and my clients): LEADERSHIP and BALANCE.
If this whole topic is of interest, you’ll love this series of posts from Lottie Moore, who writes about What to Do First.
What about you?
What about you? What are your thoughts on New Year Resolutions? Waste of time or the best thing since sliced bread?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.