I’m not sure what I hear more often; talk of New Year’s Resolutions or talk of deciding not to make New Year’s Resolutions because of failure to keep them in the past. Changes that require sacrifice or discomfort do not come so easily.
Here are some things that cause us to abandon our New Year’s Resolutions:
- Tackling a change that is not incremental enough or clear enough. Saying “I’ll lose 50 pounds this year” vs. “I will lose 1 pound per week” or “I’ll be more connected with my daughter” vs. “I will do one special thing with my daughter per month this year”.
- Failure to invest in the coaching or therapy needed to make the change. Saying that you’ll stop your angry outbursts towards your kids is nearly impossible if you don’t know what is driving your anger. How about committing to therapy to get underneath your anger problem? Or hiring a physical trainer or organizer to help with fitness goals or chaotic disorganization?
- Misunderstanding of the role of motivation in making change. We usually don’t do a good enough job anticipating the resistance we will face in keeping our resolutions. Losing the feeling of motivation is entirely normal. Real change comes when we decide to live according to our commitments, not our feelings.
- Giving up on your ability to make a change due to past failures. How about you let your past failures be your teachers? What went wrong? Research shows that people who quit smoking have tried to quit several times in the past. Past failures are less an indication of your ability to make a change and more about a failure to implement a strategy that works for you.
- Failure to engage all of your spiritual resources in the change process. Get prayer, meditate, and memorize scripture or sacred writings. Bring your resolutions squarely into your relationship with God and your spiritual practices. If you come from a worldview that you actually need God, why try to make a change in your life as if you don’t?
- Trying to make your change without the support of others. Join a group, tell your friends, ask for accountability…. www.stickK.com is a great website that allows you to record your goals and even post them publically if you want. For further motivation you can commit a little money. When you succeed in your goals, contributions are made to a charity of your choosing. When you slide, a contribution is made to an anti-charity, also of your choosing. That and assigning a personal referee to monitor your progress add layers of accountability that help you stick with your commitments.
What changes are you willing to go for this year? How can you craft a plan that gives you all you need to follow through? New Year’s Resolutions can be a great thing to help us move towards the life we want, so why not 2013?