New Year New You?

New Year Resolutions

I don't like to admit to setting resolutions because generally they are impossible to keep. Alas I do. I can't help it. New year is a new start so I, like many, reflect on what I would like to improve in the year ahead and set intentions and goals for myself. In fact, I set a word for the year, and break that down into smaller goals, so in many ways they are my resolutions. The difference is, many resolutions fail because they are statements of intent that are rarely maintained. To be really focused, you need to wake up every morning of the year with the resolution in mind and take steps towards making it a reality.

I find that my word of the year is more manageable for me and encourage my clients to do the same. In marketing terms, it is your annual big campaign, in business terms it is your vision that turns into your mission. In life it is positive habit forming.

The difference between a resolution and a "word of the year" is energy and focus. One feels resolute, tough, and hard, the other feels energising and compelling. 

The problem with resolutions :

We often want too much and try to do too much at once. At the start of the year you might reflect on all of the things you want to change in your life or stop doing. This turns into a list of to do's and not to do's and then we try to do them all at once, and it becomes too hard to maintain. We simply don't have enough will power to do it all at the same time.

Will power fluctuates. It is high at the start of the resolution, but over time is wains. You need to do more than rely on will power alone.

A few years ago I realised that I had been stuck in resolution failure and decided to try different approaches. I chunked up the various resolutions into quarterly goals, giving up smoking in January, starting to lose weight in April, begin couch to 5k in July etc. I only began a new resolution once I had formed a habit of the previous one. It worked. I achieved everything I wanted to achieve that year, but not all at once.

Resolutions usually have a goal in mind, but are you setting yourself up for failure by starting them all at once, or will it be better for you to focus on the version of you you want to see on the 31st December?

You might want to learn something, get fitter, quit something or spend more time doing something. These are all worthy resolutions, and it is important to visualise and name the outcome or goal so you know when you have reached it and when you want to achieve it, but many people fail because they fail to focus on the WHY or the HOW. Without the what, why, how and when, you have an incomplete resolution which will fail.

And the final problem is that you try to do it by yourself. Unless you tell people what you are doing, find the support you need, or get a buddy or a guide, you are only accountable to yourself, and we are all our own worst enemies. Our saboteurs will trick you into failing because change is hard, especially when the will power is low.

The Solution:

Instead of listing all of the negative things in your life that you want to change, focus on the positives that will be achieved from achieving your goals. Positives are so much more compelling and tap into your intrinsic motivation. Be clear on your vision of a future you and then work out all of the steps you need to take to get there. 

I choose a word to summarise my intention for the year. After the pandemic I was pretty flat. I wanted more joy and fun, so last year I chose those words. I made it my intention to say yes to opportunities, and made a list of all of the things I wanted to do in the year ahead. I recorded each moment in photos and reminded myself of the joyful year I was having - intentionally. 

Will power maintains itself for longer when you follow the vision or the positive WHY. However, you need to also form daily or weekly habits. Willpower is like a muscle and it needs to be trained, but not overloaded. So plan your goals and be realistic. Will you really run every morning every day? Will you really avoid the biscuit tin when you need an energy boost? Doing too much, too soon, will break your will power muscle and will feel like sacrifice and discomfort. Instead, choose small habit changes that lead to big changes over time.

This is where the WHY and the HOW become important. You need to be clear about what the goal is, why it is compelling or important, and finally HOW you will achieve it and WHO will help or support you. You might decide to take up running, so choose to start of running for 20 minutes, and build it up to 1 hour in 12 weeks. You might need to buy a programme or join a running club to help you pace, and keep you accountable. Telling people about your goals is very motivating as our pride doesn't want to publicly fail. You can get a trainer, a mentor, a coach, sign up to a group or class or do a challenge for charity. All of these will take you through a process and keep you focused on success.

And finally, focus on abundance rather than scarcity. Rather than thinking about all of the things you are giving up, think about all of the things you will gain. Instead of saying I can't drink, eat, spend etc, reframe it as "I choose not to..." or "I can...", or "I don't". Changing your language changes your behaviour. I choose, I can, I don't are personal power statements. You are the person you believe you can be.