Are You Achieving Your Resolutions?
Most people make some kind of resolutions at the beginning of a new year. Yet, only a handful achieve them. What's the difference between those who do and those who don't? Which one are you?
Let’s talk about weight loss.
You have resolved to lose weight this year. But then, you miraculouslyfind yourself in the ice cream isle of your local grocery store. And you’re stuck.
But only this ONE time, you’re thinking. ONE [tub of] ice cream won’t kill me!
You’re negotiating with yourself. You’re also summoning all of your willpower.
Even if you don’t walk out with a tub of ice cream, which isn’t likely, you have exhausted yourself through an unnecessary ordeal.
Or, let’s look at another very common resolution: hitting the gym.
You spend hours motivating yourself to go. It’s good for me! And, eventually, you do go—for the first few weeks. Then, life happens … we know the rest of this story. We’ve all been there.
The problem with resolutions is that they’re overused. As such, subconsciously, most of us expect our resolutions to fail. Therefore, resolutions are no more than a collection of wishes.
Yet, wishes that require our action do not happen by themselves.
What’s the answer?
There are several:
- Make an unequivocal decision. Once you’ve made a decision, there are no more debates, arguments, etc. All future decisions pertaining to this topic have already been made.
- Get clear on your WHY. Unequivocal decisions only happen when our why is enormously powerful. That is to say, the pain of not achieving—the pain of failure—OR, the pleasure of reward is so great that it pushes us forward.
- Design a S.M.A.R.T. goal. For example, if you want to lose weight or go to the gym, what does SPECIFIC success look like? (e.g. Lose 10 lbs?) How will you MEASURE your success? (e.g. # of lbs?). What ACTION will you take to achieve it (e.g. go to gym 3 times per week, not eat ice cream, etc.) Is your goal/action REALISTIC? Are you actually going to do it? (If you rarely go to gym, expecting to all of a sudden go five times a week isn’t realistic. Try 3 times.) What is the TIMELINE—by when will you have achieved your goal? June 1? December 1?
Specificity and timeliness of these goals are essential. If you say June 1,there are no extensions. (If you are having doubts, either don’t commit or re-visit #1 above.)
- Assemble an accountability mechanism. Do you plan on running a 5k? Publishing a book? Switching a job? Who or what is holding you accountable? Have you shared it with others? Do you have a buddy you’re doing it with? Did you hire a coach who can hold you to it?
Recently, I had a client who wanted to make a job change and potentially relocate. After settling on a reasonable date and devising a plan, I advised him on the first step: tell your boss you’ll be leaving on that date. This specific step might not be applicable in all situations, but the mechanism is.
- Change anything in your environment that gets in the way of your decision. It’s not likely you’ll lose weight if you have cake in the fridge. And you won’t write that book if the kids are screaming all around you.
Of course, you cannot control everything that gets in your way. That’s why we have bonus steps:
- Use your willpower, occasionally. Accept that relying on willpower as a sole method of achieving something does not work. However, if you have followed all the steps above, occasionally, when confronted with a tempting situation, you can resist it through will power. This is only possible if #1 is clear.
- Forgive yourself and persist. You’re not perfect. Shit will happen. You’ll get sick, have an important trip to take, or something else might get in the way. Dust yourself off, and immediately get back on track. See how you can make it up. If your decision is truly resolute, you won’t have a problem with this. (You had a goal to write 1,000 words per week, but one week you fell short and only wrote 500? Well, write 2,500 the following week.)
If you’re having a hard time with getting back to it, recall your why and revisit your decision.
There’s a catch though: forgiveness is only possible if you get right back to it!
If you have made resolutions for 2018, take them through this process and see them come to fruition.
One last thought: The point isn't to limit yourself or be overly rigid; the point is to decide on what you really want, why you want it, come up with a plan, create conditions for it, make yourself intentionally accountable, and then go for it. It doesn't mean you shouldn't eat ice cream if you want to lose weight; it means that, if you do decide to lose weight, that you come up with a plan AND follow it.
Failure isn't an option.