Why Your New Year's Resolution Probably Won't Stick
Weren't you supposed to lose your beer gut in 2012?
Every December, we make decisions we don’t intend to keep. Of course, we don’t necessarily decide not to keep them in that moment, because of course we don’t exactly know that just yet. Despite that, every year we resolve to do or achieve something that we didn’t achieve that year. Thus, the great New Year’s Resolution.
You want to get fit. You want to lose weight. You want to travel more. You want to advance your career. You want to learn to cook. You want to learn a new skill. You want to do just about everything and make it to the next December knowing you’ve successfully leveled up. But every year is the same: when you glance back at the passing days that seemed to go by in a flash, you realize that the only milestones you can remember were the struggles you had to go through and the frustrating times that pushed you back. You forget for a moment that you did great things that year, and in place of that you remember all the little steps that only ever took you backwards.
We see it every day in social media, talk about it with the people we are around: I want to be great this year! It’s a new start. Let’s go places this time around! There is no consideration for the struggles and frustrations ahead, even though you know they’re bound to happen. So why is it that looking back we see the pain, and looking forward we see the pleasure? Why are we as human beings unable to see this pattern backwards instead: to challenge the pain ahead and glorify the successes we’ve achieved?
A great mentor of mine once said that in order to achieve your long term goals, the strategy is to build a many smaller ones to get there. No one ever crossed a rushing river without building stepping stones into a bridge in order to get there. If your goal is to lose weight, research what it takes to achieve it. Perhaps your New Year’s Resolution shouldn’t be to lose weight. If you intend to make it to December, build your bridge in smaller increments; start January off by signing up for a gym and having a goal of 5 pounds by March. In March, reassess where you are and place another stepping stone. Maybe turn your focus to your diet in March and commit to cutting out fast food. In May, cut out chocolates and sweets. Before you know it, December will roll around and you’ll realize just how easy that resolution was to keep. By breaking down your New Year’s Resolution into smaller, more achievable goals, you give yourself a 1% level up expectation instead of a 100%, unattainable, long term expectation. Overtime, that 1% becomes 20% becomes 50% becomes 80%. Definitely a bigger percentage than that goal you made last year.
What is even more important is knowing that every day you let pass you by is time spent unwisely, especially with regards to resolutions, New Year’s or not. There is nothing I could possibly dislike more about myself than how often I procrastinate. When you make a conscious decision to put something off instead of pursue it, that activity or action goes from passion, to potential, to put-out. It never happens. Maybe you will think about it from time to time, but then you get distracted and allow your mind to wander back to what you were making for dinner, or how you feel about your cat taking a nap all over your fresh, out-of-the-dryer laundry. Then, as the pattern predicted: it’s December again.
There is never enough time between wanting to travel more and building your career. Do both! Find something that will allow you that beautiful bliss point in your life, and do it TODAY. Why wait? No one has ever regretted achieving something now rather than later, and no one will know better than you that this was what you were meant to do.