‘Tis the season to overindulge.
Fa la la la la la la la la.
That’s right. You’re starting to enter that period of self-loathing, too, aren’t you?
I can hear you now:
- I ate too much on Christmas Day.
- I drank too much at the parties.
- I stopped going for walks because it was cold and snowy.
Your sweatpants won’t cut it at the office either and, all those ads are telling you Jan. 1, 2016 is the perfect time to be a healthier, fitter you.
Hey, look. I’m a big champion of change. It’s right there on my home page.
But, frankly, New Year’s resolutions are for the birds.
I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t want to change something.
People want to:
- Be fitter
- Eat better
- Get my business to grow
- Save more money
- Keep the closet organized
- Start a garden
A 2015 survey, conducted at the University of Scranton and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, found that 45 per cent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions but only eight per cent are successful in achieving them.
Almost one-quarter (24 per cent) never succeed and fail on their resolutions every year.
We Canadians aren’t much different.
The Toronto Star learned in 2013 that 68 per cent of us made a resolution for the previous year. A whopping 19 per cent of us kept our resolutions for less than 24 hours.
We couldn’t even get through a day!
Half of us did keep our promises for a month and another 19 managed to go the whole year. Or at least they say they did, right? (Wink, wink.)
Maybe it’s better to try and try again. After all, if we don’t try, we don’t get anywhere, right? The fact is, people who make resolutions and try are 10 times more likely to be successful than those who don’t.
Are we wired to fail?
I just did a workshop called Lead That Change for the local school district. We went through each person’s top issues and concerns. I didn’t let them off the hook there. Each person had to create and contribute to a solution to each issue, then share what they can be personally responsible for.
While some issues are easier to tackle, others need policy or cultural changes. For the simpler issues, people just need a reminder that change can occur with action and, with a personal action plan, you are more willing to be involved in change on a larger scale.
If you aren’t convinced it can change, though, nothing is going to happen.
That’s where we fall down with our New Year’s resolutions.
Take drinking, for example. You drank enough to make you feel hungover the next morning — several times this holiday season. You set forth in 2016 to imbibe less.
By Valentine’s Day, you’re having a glass of wine with dinner. By St. Patrick’s Day, it’s time to be Irish for a day. Then summer hits, it’s time for golf or weekends on the boat and your resolution is shot to hell.
It’s a cycle we repeat every day because we’re never convinced the change can happen and, if it does, we don’t believe it will last. We never have enough reason to make the sacrifice.
Sure, we try for a while but inevitably, we give up and go back to our old patterns.
Bobby Hoffman, the author of Motivation for Learning and Performance and an associate professor at the University of Central Florida, writes that our mental determination is similar to our physiological construct.
Our bodies reach a point of homeostasis when pushed to exertion regularly.
During psychological homeostasis, Hoffman says, the individual self-regulates and uses strategies and tactics to stay focused on goals. People who regulate those cognitive resources are often more successful at reaching their goals.
That kind of self-control, however, is tough, he reminds.
Self-control always involves active and conscious inhibition of potential goal killers such as worry, distraction, or dwelling on how darn hard it is to constantly avoid sweets or find the time to exercise regularly. As individuals use their best coping ability, and persevere over time by repeatedly forgoing distractions and resisting counterproductive temptations, the ability to activate subsequent control diminishes.
In other words, we are too damn hard on ourselves.
Go easy on you
Your New Year’s resolutions are creating a burden on you, becoming a negative factor in your stress-management strategy.
You want to make a change, but you can’t commit to it fully right now. Or won’t.
Now you’re beating yourself up because you aren’t changing and you aren’t being accountable to yourself. You’re trapped in a no-win situation.
You’re probably even shoulding all over yourself.
“I should order the chicken breast instead of the wings.”
“I should go to the gym and work out.”
“I should have water instead of a beer.”
While, yeah, you probably should be doing all those, you have to think more in line with what you can do. When we’re shoulding ourselves, we start to rationalize our lack of commitment.
I mean, isn’t the next word usually “but”?
Like “I should go to the gym but I need meet this deadline” or “I should have the chicken but this one steak won’t hurt.”
Right? The next step is to feel guilt for not working out, not eating or drinking better and not sticking to any one of your resolutions.
[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#newyearsresolutions”]You must give yourself permission to change and build your plan to success.[/tweetthis]
Any day is a good day
Sure, it seems like New Year’s Day is a great day to get started.
It signals a fresh start, but so does any Monday on the calendar, the first day of spring or your birthday. Heck, your birthday is your new year!
New Year’s resolutions are, in my eyes, part of a big marketing campaign designed to get you to spend money on your guilt and lack of life satisfaction.
So, no, I don’t believe in them.
You can pick any day that works for you as long as you’ve:
- Thoroughly assessed your life
- Figured out why you want or need to make the change
- Found your clarity
- Charted your course with small goals along the way
Now you can embrace the change process and you’re ready to leap. Catapult!