I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday and have managed to include some delicious festive fare, some time to bond with loved ones, as well as some quiet time by yourself to recharge your batteries and get ready to get the most out of 2020.
Not only is this the start of a new year but it’s also the start of a new decade, giving you even more impetus to start off on the right foot. The New Year is traditionally the time we resolve to stop doing those things that cause problems and pain, and to develop those good habits that you’ve probably been recognizing for a while would make life smoother, more productive and more fulfilling.
Sadly though 92% of us will fail to sustain them. To find out why, and what to do instead to make this your best year yet, read on.
While about half of us will make New Year’s Resolutions this year, less than 25% of them will reach the 30 day mark, and only 8% will succeed. Talk about setting yourself up for failure!
I don’t want you to be a loser in 2020, in fact I want you to be a winner, and today want to share some great ideas about how to go about doing that, and also how to overcome the obstacles that’ll most certainly get in your way.
I’d like to recommend that this year you don’t set broad resolutions, that can easily be misinterpreted, instead, set one or two specific goals that really resonate with you.
The three main reasons New Year’s Resolutions fail is because either they’re too vague, there’s no solid plan for how to achieve them, or they’re not really your resolution, they were imposed on you by another person or maybe just society in general.
According to the journal Management Review, for a goal to succeed it needs to be S.M.A.R.T. , which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
I’ll go into greater depth about these in my next vlog but for right now, using the most common New Year’s Resolution- weight loss as an example; specific means rather than just saying “I want to lose weight”, have a specific goal as to how much, how soon and how you want to go about doing it.
What can’t be measured can’t be improved - Warren Buffet.
While measurable is pretty obvious in this example of weight loss, it can be used across the board. I had a client tell me recently that she plotted the frequency and level of their fights in a journal app design for goal setting, and she felt that it corroborated the fact that she thought the relationship had improved.
Next, it needs to be achievable. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be big goal, but it needs to be broken down into doable, bite-sized pieces so that you don’t get discouraged and give up.
Breaking it down into little steps leaves you feeling more and more confident and capable with each new achievement, and more motivated to continue!
A relevant goal is one that really resonates with you and you’re doing it for the right reasons.
Lastly it needs to be time-bound which means the time-frame for achievement needs to be clear and realistic, both for the large goal and also for the smaller steps that will, over time, get you there.
Research shows that people over-estimate how much they can achieve in the short-term, and totally under-estimate what that can achieve in the long term.
That’s kind of a set-up for failure right from the start, isn’t it? So my advice- don’t be a hero at the beginning. Be realistic so you don’t get discouraged, but remember ANYTHING can be achieved by consistency and diligence.
I personally think the reason for such an abysmally high failure rate among New Year’s Resolutions, has something to do with the fact that most of us make them while ‘shoulding’ on ourselves.
Look at the way we generally do it. Do we say “I wish to lose weight so I can wear that flimsy top and look great” or so “I can feel sexy and confident in my body and ready to have some fun”, or “I want to do it so that I can walk up five flights of stairs and feel energized and certain that it’s giving me that firm bum and shapely legs?”
Because our minds are programmed towards negative bias, I’d be willing to wager a bet that for most of us the inner dialogue that spurs us on to make New Year’s Resolutions usually sounds more like “I should lose weight so that I won’t keep feeling depressed when I look at a picture of myself", or so “I can stop hiding in my loose clothes, preferring a movie and pizza over sex”, or “I should lose weight so I can walk up five flights of stairs without feeling like I’m gonna faint!”
Really when you think about it, those reasons don’t sound very motivational do they?
While our propensity is to be hard on ourselves, and many of us actually believe that it motivates us and is a good thing, it’s really important to know that although it may work in the short term, it’s usually only until the main pain subsides, and that tends to happen way before any real goal has been achieved or any new habit created.
Research shows the true long-term motivator is pleasure, so it’s worth framing it more as “what you’d like to achieve?” rather than “what you’d wish to avoid?”
Really to paint the picture and flesh it out, try and see the many benefits of successfully achieving the goal.
Studies show that writing it down or drawing pictures, really helps clarify it and increase the likelihood of it happening.
To continue using the weight loss example, rather than a broad but vague resolution to lose weight, you could instead create a really positive goal and say something like “I want to adopt a diet and level of physical activity backed by the top health and longevity experts in the world.”
That way weight loss, and most probably improvements in libido will be a happy side effect of healthier living.
While staying positive is important, according to Gabriele Oettingen, NYU Professor of Psychology and author of ‘Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation’, not only is positive thinking not enough but it might actually be holding you back!
Her studies have shown that “the more positively people fantasize and daydream about their future success, the less well they do in terms of having actual success.” “They already experienced it positively in their minds, and then they relax,” she says. “These positive fantasies are helpful for exploring the different possibility for the future, but they are a hardship when it comes to actually putting in the effort and the energy that wish fulfillment actually needs. They sap energy.”
She suggests instead that you temper the positivity with realism. Fantasize about the goal but recognize what the obstacles are and have a plan to overcome them.
She’s developed the acronym W.O.O.P. to remember this by; Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan.
So, using a goal that really resonates with you, write it down in a positive and motivating way. Use the S.M.A.R.T. goals criteria, which I’ll talk more about in my next vlog entitled ‘Great Relationships require Good Habits’.
Also get very clear about your long-term and short-term strategy, and write down the exact steps needed to achieve it. Be as specific, detailed and clear as you can with your plan so your mind can just focus on doing it, rather than on what to do, and don’t be afraid to tweak as you go along.
Lastly, try and foresee as many obstacles as you can and have a plan for how to overcome each one in advance so you don’t get caught off-guard, as this will increase the likelihood of you giving up.
I hope this has been of help and that it motivates you to do things a little differently this year.
In my next post we’ll have a deeper look at ‘Habits’; why the bad ones are so hard to break, the best way to do that, and how to replace them with good habits that serve you and your relationships better.
I wish you lots of luck, love and laughter in 2020 and until next time, be good to yourself and as always, keep it real.
Until next time, be good to yourself, and remember to keep it real.
With light and love
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