The new year thing
New Year is probably my favourite time of the year — the sensation of a new chapter opening. A completely unsullied virgin canvas.
The delicious thought that we can consign our regrets and disappointments to history and turn the page, embracing a shiny brand spanking new 12 months to start over. As a personal development junkie I love the annual ritual of a nation swept up in a tide of self-improvement, the contagious aroma of change in the air.
So, how are those New Year’s resolutions going? It’s January 18, so plenty of time for them to be well established (Yay! Go you!)... or to have fallen by the wayside.
If you have already fallen off the wagon, don’t be too hard on yourself. Every day is a new opportunity to start afresh. Every day. Any day. Like today.One classic reason New Year’s resolutions fail is because we set the bar too high.
“Go to the gym for at least 90 minutes every day” is a classic example. It doesn’t allow for any “life happens” slack and so if we miss one day we instantly feel like a failure and fall off the horse quite quickly. It’s far better to get on the Yes train and have a much lower bar where you are stringing yes’s together day after day. Something like “I will move my body in some way, every day, for 20 minutes”. Then playing footie with the kids counts (tick), the walk after lunch counts (tick) — and on the days where life is all unfolding according to plan you are far more likely to make the extended gym session, bolstered and encouraged by your string of yes’s ... ”yes, I am a person who exercises daily. I’m off to the gym . . . again!”Another classic way we can set ourselves up to fail is trying to take on too many resolutions at once.
Like we have to solve every crappy thing in our lives, all at once, on January 1. It is a powerful day for sure, but it’s just a day. Too many resolutions at once can be overwhelming and again very easy to diminish motivation because we might have eaten well BUT we didn’t have screen-free time or whatever we have also resolved to do, and so a yes can be cancelled out by a no and with it our momentum and enthusiasm for change.
Far better to start with a reduced (one is fine) number of resolutions and actually make it happen. With a smaller number, not only is our focus greater but again it’s far easier to keep ourselves positive and on track with a chain of yes’s. We can get that new habit established and integrated, then introduce another new resolution in three months’ time. The temptation to solve all the ills of the whole of 2015 in one go in January 2016 is almost guaranteed to derail the best of intentions.
Want to make resolutions that actually last in 2016?
Make fewer. Lower the bar. And be super-clear on your “why I want to” before you get stuck into the how to do it (more on that next week). Own in full why you want what you want, and how it will feel when you get it.