Why YOU avoid YOUR Resolutions and What to Do About it

Here is a New Year’s resolution you almost never hear:
“This year I vow to keep everything the same, I am going to weigh the same, exercise the same, talk to all of the same people and be exactly the same.”

New Year’s resolutions are about change and sometimes change is difficult. Let’s explore some of the reason you make and then avoid (or don’t keep) those resolutions.

One reason for making resolutions is peer pressure. The people around us expect us to make resolutions for the New Year. Think about the conversations you have in January, perhaps they sound something like this:

“Happy New Year, did you make any resolutions?”
“Great to see you, Happy New Year, what are you resolving this year?”
You get the picture. And if making resolutions at the start of the year works for you, great. For some people this societal expectation only leads to a case of ‘the shoulds’. You make some resolutions because it is New Year’s and you should.
Any resolution you make because you think you SHOULD is not really your true desire or priority and until it becomes your true desire and priority it is taking attention and cluttering up your thought space, for example:

  • I should lose 10 pounds this year.
  • I should get up an hour early every day and exercise.
  • I should look for a new job.

The thing with should is that it rarely represents true acceptance or true desire. How often do you hear an athlete say, “Well I should train for the marathon this year?” You either do it or your do not. You either really want to run that marathon or you do not. And if you do, you really commit to training and making it happen. Woe is the person who does not prepare and then tries to run the marathon anyway. Your resolutions are the same way. Make them quality, make them what you really care about and what you really desire and throw the rest away.

Stop making a list of things YOU SHOULD DO and make a smaller higher quality list of things YOU REALLY WANT TO DO. NOW you are truly setting yourself up for success with your resolutions. You are making them for the RIGHT reason. And you will not avoid them.
This leaves us with the real and compelling resolutions, the ones YOU make because YOU really want to make a change. Not the resolutions you make because your friend/partner/parent or boss told you should. Once you become clear about what you really want. Make sure you position yourself for success. If you make a resolution you really want and yet you find yourself abandoning it, it could be because you did not set yourself up for success. Here are some tips to support you as you move forward with your true resolutions, the ones that really count!

1. Be fair to yourself and be realistic.
I can’t tell you if the plans you are making for yourself are realistic or not, only YOU can tell YOU that. Sure if you say you are going to sprout wings this year and fly, I might have a sense that this is not going to work out.
Only you have a sense for what you can accomplish, a stretch goal for some people is completely easy for another person. So set yourself goals that are not too easy, but that are obtainable, with full acknowledgement of your current schedule, lifestyle, your commitments, energy levels etc.

2. Make a plan and use it!
Good intentions are fabulous. I do not think any person alive would tell you that success comes just from thinking it into being. It is that you think about what you want to achieve and you focus on it so much that your actions lead you toward the achievement of your goal.
If one of your goals is to earn an advanced degree, you are not going to get the degree by imagining it to be, you need to apply to a university, enroll in courses and take and pass the courses. So how are you going to get there?
Put dates and other measurable milestones in your plan. No you do not have to be a project manager to do this! Again you need to be reasonable. If you make a plan that is too hard to follow or with unreasonable dates or that does not fit in with the rest of your lifestyle, what will happen? You will abandon it.

3. Allow a reasonable amount of time for the change to occur.
If you are not sure about the timing, give yourself a couple of ‘test’ dates to meet and see how you do. If you don’t make certain goals by certain dates, don’t drop the goals, just reassess your dates. This is why I don’t like the pressure of being on a schedule for new years. Some goals we knock out in a few months or before the next year end, others we do not. You want to apply some pressure to yourself to keep on the path, but not so much pressure that you feel over stressed or that you feel like you are failing.

4. If your plan is not working figure out why and make the necessary changes.

5. Get the right kind of support.
Share your goals and vision with people who will respect and nurture you and your goals. This is not the same thing as people who always agree with you. You want to discuss and plan with people who can see alternative perspectives and play devils advocate. You don’t want or need people who will say things like, “Only in your dreams” or “You are crazy” or “Who do you think you are?”
People do not always verbalize their lack of support, so watch behaviors too. An obvious example is if you are dieting and your alleged friend brings you ice cream or cookies. Or the person who you tell you are on a financial diet and they keep asking you to go shopping. The right people support you and your goals and your vision.
Surround yourself with like-minded people. This is always true, not just for reaching goals.

6. Learn from disappointments and then let them go.

7. Don’t be afraid to change your mind.
Hey, these are your resolutions we are talking about, so if you want to change your mind, change your mind. Just be really honest with yourself as to why you are changing your mind. If you made a resolution and you get a few months into it and it just doesn’t fit or really isn’t a priority – by all means dump it. Maybe it is something you will take on later. But ask yourself why are you dumping it? And ask yourself this, will you be sorry?

8. Celebrate success.
Every step that you complete on your path is worthy of a celebration and every resolution realized is a celebration too! Reward yourself in a manner that fits in with the rest of your lifestyle. Don’t over eat, over spend or drink too much as a celebration – that will just lead to a new set of resolutions!