Why you don’t keep your new year’s resolutions (1 of 2)
There are two ways of looking at the beginning of a new year.
- No matter how heavy, hard, and tiring the previous year was, you have the chance to turn that little leaf over and hope it’s greener.
Next week, we’re going to focus on the first perspective and talk about what it takes to make and keep your New Year’s resolutions. But before we consider that, we need to look at the things that make it nearly impossible to follow through on our lofty, fresh commitments.
If one were particularly pessimistic, one might say that the true spirit of the new year is failure.
After all, the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions launch, then quickly break apart and dissolve in the atmosphere of mid-January. There are millions of stories of well-meaning goals that people have created for themselves then fallen spectacularly short of.
This “One” person doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but they have a point right?
Sure, this is ignoring plenty of inspirational stories of goals achieved, lives altered for the better, and personal redemption through self-determination and the encouragement of others.
But mostly, people just fail.
We’ll get to the positive side next week, because yes, resolutions are worth it. They’re valuable. As the lyrics of one song state, “Life without revision will silence our souls.”
Yet, revision is useless if you don’t sustain it. And to sustain it, we have to understand why it’s so easy to give up.
Here are a few reasons you don’t keep your New Year’s resolutions.
1) You Try to Do Too Much at Once
There are many reasons you might want to set a New Year’s resolution.
Maybe your life is in shambles. Probably, it’s not that bad, but you might have a hundred different areas you’d like to improve in your life.
Here’s the key: ignore most of them.
If you try to get healthier, form more relationships, dedicate time to write your book, look for a higher-paying job, learn to golf, and take a road trip once a month, you’re just not to make all of that happen. You’re truly setting yourself up to be a victim for #FailSeason.
Instead, pick two areas of your life to focus on. Run through the priority list, and determine the two most important areas. Maybe it’s finances, or health, or relationships, or art.
Whatever it is, dedicate yourself to those two things. The amazing thing is that as you build the right habits and gain confidence through achieving a smaller set of things, you may open the door later to the time and energy it takes to tackle other important areas. And things like physical health can also have spillover benefits for your relationships, stress, etc.
2) You Do It By Yourself
Lack of accountability may be one of the biggest problems with keeping resolutions.
When you create a goal for yourself and no one else is involved, there’s nothing at all stopping you from shutting it down and giving up at any point in the process. No one else knows, so know one else cares if you quit. You can justify anything to yourself.
By “accountability,” we don’t mean beefy cousin Ed offering to call you every night to check if you’ve jogged a mile that day and driving over to beat you up if you haven’t.
Accountability shouldn’t be punishment-driven: it should be relationship-driven. The point here is to invite other people into the story of your goal. If you seriously want to live a healthier lifestyle, for example, you’re going to need your whole “crew” aware and supportive of your choice.
That way, when you have potlucks or go out to eat together, others know what you’re attempting and can keep you in mind. It will also be a regular part of your conversations, and they can encourage your progress and listen as you vent the inevitably frustrating aspects of making changes to your life.
3) You Shoot for the Moon, When You Should Be Leaping for the Ledge
This one’s similar to number one, but it refers to your individual goals.
By now, you probably know that vague resolutions are inept. To say, “I want to travel more” means nothing and won’t really help you as you move through the crazy busyness of the year. However, to say, “I want to visit each U.S. state this year” is a tangible goal that you can measure against and track your progress toward.
It’s also incredibly unrealistic.
It’s often people who do not travel at all who make the loftiest resolutions about travel, because they realize how much it’s been lacking from their lives. Same goes for health or whatever. They go from zero to sixty, shooting for the moon because even if they miss they’ll land among the stars.
Except they won’t, because they’re jumping with two human legs and won’t get any higher than a few feet off the ground.
To be clear, you are taking a leap here. You’ve been on the ground for a while, and you’re ready to jump to new heights. But you’re going to fail if you look past that ledge that’s high up but actually reachable and try to reach some ridiculous point in the sky.
4) You Have Legitimate Emotional Baggage That Needs to Be Addressed First
This one is hard to diagnose, but a very common reason for resolution failures is simply related to emotional baggage that you’ll have to work through before you can stick to something as frightening as a life-altering goal.
Think of it as a blockage in your brain: you want to think a certain way, create certain disciplines in your mind, but there’s an obstruction along the neural pathways that it takes to get to where you want to be.
Removing the obstruction has to come first before you can make any further progress.
There are millions of reasons why you might fail to stick with your New Year’s resolutions this year, and these four are some of the most likely.
This is a novel concept, but you might want to take this first week of the year to reflect on why your resolution won’t happen. If you think through all of the potential reasons, you’ll be in a better start to begin on Week Two with the knowledge of what you need to avoid.
You can’t step over the pits if you don’t see them.
By: Ryan Drawdy
January 3, 2017
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion or suggestions of CenterState Bank.