Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (and What to Do Instead)

Why New Years Resolutions Don't Work

Happy New Year!  I welcome this new year of with open arms and am energized about the possibilities. Yet, whenever someone starts talking about new year resolutions I cringe, the hair on my neck starts to stand up, and my insides want to prepare for battle.  The other day I started the year by attending a women’s networking meeting. As someone started talking about it being the time to get started with those resolutions I wanted to leap from my chair and scream bull!*$?!  Stop playing that mental game with yourself!

Why do I say this?  Well, first let me ask you…

How many years now have you been making resolutions?

How many of those resolutions have been fully realized?

How many of your resolutions for the coming year sound exactly like the resolutions you made last year (and the year before that, and the year before that…)?

If you are truly honest with yourself this whole game of new year’s resolutions has been nothing but a silly game of psychological warfare with yourself perpetuated through the ages, right?  Something you say each year to feel better about yourself (for about a week or two) in an attempt to get motivated around something that you at  least say you want. There is something approximating an 88% failure rate when it comes to resolutions (and many resolutions don’t even make it out of January).  Why is that and why is making resolutions just a silly game in which you set yourself up for failure and feeling bad about yourself?

Get real about why they don’t work with this inner awareness.

Willpower is a Depletable Resource

You cannot willpower your way to any lasting change.  It just isn’t possible.  It is not sustainable. The minute you are fatigued, distracted, or otherwise stressed mentally or physically, willpower goes out the window.  This is why it is so hard to resist all the cookies, donuts, and goodies at the holidays or at work when you’re running on low.  That is why it is hard to resist the pull of distractions (like Facebook, surfing the web, doing the laundry, etc.) when you are supposed to be focused on taking action in your business. Willpower plummets and the quality of your choices goes out the window. Resolutions by their very nature (“resolve”) are based on willpower.

The Bar Is Set Too High

Resolutions tend to sound like sweeping changes and include huge promises that are doomed to failure by their very nature.  Big promises that entail radical changes are usually empty promises.  (Think: political rhetoric) Behavior change and true transformation requires a systematic plan of achievable and sustainable change. I don’t care who you are, you’re unlikely to go from one extreme to the other  whether it is adopting a new work schedule, redesigning your marketing plan, or meeting your income goals.  Give yourself sky’s the limit permission with what you desire and your vision.  Drill down and focus in baby steps as you take action to bring that vision into the here and now.

Goals are One Dimensional

To me goals have been abused, mistreated, and overrated.  We throw them out there like darts at a board. Sometimes we even get really fancy and make SMART goals (don’t even get me started).  The end result?  Often the same…a misunderstood end point that may or may not get you where you want to go and is likely to justify the end at the expense of the means (and your experience along the way). There is a better, more effective way to do this. It involves adding dimension to what you want by getting clear on how you want to feel (so you can navigate by THAT as your compass) and the real  meaning behind your goals.

True Commitment is Lacking

Words and ideas are a dime a dozen.  In general as human beings we blow a lot of hot air with what we say.  It’s what we actually do that matters.  Words are cheap but actions speak loudly.  What you make time for and where you invest your money will give you a very clear picture of your priorities and commitments. Most resolutions are just hot air.

All said, the new year is still a great time to plan, vision, and begin to make the changes you most want to see. It’s just that if you want things to be different you actually have to do differently. Here are a few secrets that will have you putting the screws to resolutions and instead being in the 10% of people who actually will make lasting changes.

Now, get things working in your favor with this practical action.

Bring Meaning to What You Desire

Don’t just say you want something, go beneath the surface.  Why do you want what you want? What will having, doing, or being differently give you that you don’t have now?  How do you want to feel as you navigate each day, week, month. Without a connection to a deeper reason for change you will only be relying on willpower which will fizzle out.  A strong why fuels inspiration and energy that is sustainable over the long haul.

Set Intentions Not Goals

Intentions are multi-dimensional.  Far stronger than a goal, with an intention you can truly paint a picture of what you desire by setting conscious intentions around not only the results you wish to achieve but also the inner experience you wish to have.  This is about who you are and how you do what you do as you move into action around what you want. And if you think this is just some airy fairy exercise that doesn’t hold up to the rigor of traditional goal setting, the inner intentions get broken  down into specific and measurable parameters as well.

Create an Actionable Plan

You cannot climb Everest in a day (or even a month).  Think about how long it has taken you to create the situation you are in or how long you have had the specific habits you wish to change.  Do you honestly think that you are going to wave a magic wand and instantly create a new reality? It doesn’t happen that way.  While the decision can happen in an instant, the work takes time.

Truly Commit

Put your money, time and energy where you say you want to.  Align your intentions and words with your actions. And by all means stop lying to yourself by making excuses. What you are committed to speaks loud and clear – just look at where you are investing your time, energy, and money.

Get Support

Don’t try to do it all alone. Whether you join a mastermind group, hire a coach, attend a support group, or enlist a small group of equally committed peers by all means tap into the power of being in community and in relationship to others.  The energy and support of others is a natural accelerator for results and provides built in accountability. We aren’t meant to exist in isolation.

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