Ah, here we are again, at the end of another year. Standing side by side with millions of people around the world as we dust off our New Year’s resolutions and vow to make a fresh start. Cut-back on chocolate (madness), get fit (sensible), quit smoking (awesome). As a global community we’re feeling pumped, motivated and ready to conquer the world… one nicotine patch at a time. For a while we will be strong, full of how well we are doing… revelling in our will-power… for a week, maybe even a month. We’ll buy gym memberships and crowd the front of the class in our new Lorna Jane. We’ll drink smoothies every morning and swear our skin has never been so clear. We’ll proselytise the virtues of organic decaf and of downward-dog in the morning.
And then before you know it, the resolution wheels will fall off and we’re back to slugging four coffees before lunch, social smoking becomes a pack a day, and we just can’t find a spin class that fits in with our routines. February becomes the month of the great backslide. And with each square of chocolate the guilt creeps in, pulling us under, making all change feel impossible. I mean, if you can’t even cut back on chocolate what hope do you have when it comes to the big things? And so you reach for another square and with it your resolution dies.
So why do New Year’s resolutions fail? Well, firstly because we don’t do the hard work required to be successful in the first place.
- Plan, plan, plan – the foundations for success.
It never ceases to amaze me that people spend the entire year planning all manner of things from lunch boxes to weddings and then leave their New Year’s resolutions until a few weeks (at the most) before. Change is difficult at the best of times. Significant change is a combination of rock-solid mental will-power and preparation – i.e. actually having the nicotine patch, the gym membership or no junk-food in the house.
New Years resolutions also fail because of the very mentality that they inevitably fail. And as such, the very moment New Year’s resolutions are conceived we begin sub-consciously preparing ourselves to fail.
- Traditions versus authentic change.
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that while they have become an institution, they are not actually an organic part of who we are. We create them because we feel a sense of social obligation to do so. Pressure from our peers to confess and correct – compelling us to want to at least be seen to be doing something to ‘better ourselves’. This in turn often leads us to agreeing to change habits we aren’t yet ready to change, and so it’s onwards to Failure City.
The question you should really be asking yourself is this – do you need a life changing event to change your life? The answer is, ‘no’.
- Life resolutions.
You don’t need, for instance, to get engaged before you decide to lose weight or a health scare to stop smoking or the loss of a loved one to realise you have been hungering for travel… and you certainly don’t need the start of a new year to get your crap sorted out. The moment you realise that something isn’t how you want it to be, make a decision then and there to find a way to change. Even if it’s the 1st of February. This is what I call a ‘Life Resolution’.
Life resolutions come from a place of integrity, of truth, of knowing. Life resolutions can happen at any time, on any day and in any place. There may be an obvious trigger or there just might be a moment of spontaneous and unexpected growth, when you come to understand that change is upon you. Those are the resolutions worth your time, worth your commitment and your energy-they come from your soul. And those are the resolutions that will effect change now and into the future.
So this year, when you’re standing with a champagne glass in hand and the clock is counting down, stop and question the origins of your resolution/s. It may be a new year, but it’s the same you… and that doesn’t necessarily equate to the need for change. Resolve instead to committing to life resolutions – #bekind, #bepresent, #leadwithintegrity, #betruetoyourself…
A happy New Year to you and your loved ones.