New Years Resolutions: Why they Fail and How to Succeed
By now, about 1/3 of the people that set a New Years resolution have already ditched the vow. By the end of the year, statistics show that only 8% will have stayed the course. How about you? Maybe you didn’t make a resolution (55% of Americans don’t). Why not? Is it because you feel it is pointless and doomed to fail? Or, if you intend on making a change you simply set a goal and get it done- no need to wait for the New Year to begin! Resolutions can be for everybody, made anytime, especially when it is a vow we are actually looking forward to or growing from. I know why resolutions fail and how to actually succeed at following through.
Resolutions fail because we often focus on the parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of, however the habits that got us to our place of shame may actually be quite enjoyable. For example, let’s say you love to shop, but you are ashamed of your debt. Or, maybe you love great food and baking, but you’re ashamed of your weight. So you vow to get out of debt or lose the weight, and in doing so you will deprive yourself of the enjoyable act that brought you to the place of shame. Yes, maybe the change does need to happen, but you dread what it will take to make the change. Inevitably you fail your resolution, feel guilty and say terrible things about yourself to yourself and find yourself back where you started. The typical resolution is a catch 22 and self-sabotage waiting to happen. It’s time for a resolution revolution!
We need to stop loathing ourselves and start loving ourselves. Is it possible that we overindulge because we are lacking somewhere else? We pay so much attention to the parts of ourselves we don’t like. Dislike begets dislike. Wake-up people! Be good to yourselves and more good will follow. Perhaps, if we give to ourselves in areas we are lacking we will build the foundation necessary to make the lifestyle changes the typical resolution requires. Here’s how to set resolutions that you will actually succeed at…
First, ditch the typical resolution you would normally set. Next, focus on an area of change that you would actually look forward to. For example, lets say you have a bucket list, but in your mind that’s all it will ever be – just a full bucket of wishful thinking. It doesn’t have to be that way. Choose one item from the list, no matter how small and do it. Tackle each excuse or obstacle as it comes. If you set your intention on something positive that you are actually looking forward to, you are more likely to accomplish your goal. The victory, no matter how small, will help you gain confidence in your future ability to complete resolutions.
Another approach is to resolve to do something nice for yourself consistently. This is an exercise in giving love to yourself. For example, say you love fresh flowers, but the only time you enjoy them is if someone else gives them to you. How often is that? Resolve to pick up a small bouquet weekly at the grocery store, and enjoy fresh flowers all year long.
If that last one is difficult for you to imagine, then it’s time to look at what you wish others would do for you or give to you and take baby steps to give yourself what you need. For example, lets say you are the type of person who never buys anything for yourself. Even if you receive a gift certificate you are likely to spend it on somebody else, or if you do get something for yourself you feel guilty. Why? Do you not feel that you are deserving or worthy? Make a vow to give to yourself, baby steps. Set a ‘me’ budget each month and when you see that cookbook, or sweater you like, instead of hinting around to somebody that you would like to have it; get it! You deserve it! After all, it is in the budget. You will enjoy that item just as much as you would have if someone else gave it to you. If you feel guilty, stop the negative self talk and remind yourself that you deserve it and you are worthy. Over the course of the year, you’ll do more for your self-worth than anybody else could ever do for you. Which leads me to my last resolution suggestion…
This one is so important, and more of an internal resolution. Just something between you and yourself. Resolve to be your own best friend. So many of us have such negative self-talk. Imagine talking to your best friend the way you talk to yourself when you aren’t measuring up to your expectations. They probably wouldn’t stick around for long, let alone anybody for that matter. This resolution requires becoming aware of your internal dialogue. When you realize you are engaging in negative self-talk, you stop yourself and become your own best friend. Imagine that you just listened to your best friend berating him or herself the way you just did to yourself. I bet you would be surprised that they thought that of themselves because you see so much good and potential in them (they wouldn’t be your best friend if it weren’t true right?) Then, give yourself a pep talk as you would if it were your best friend. It sounds cheesy, but it works. It works because you know everything about the scenario, the good and the bad. The pep talk focuses on the good or how far you’ve come. You feel better, because you are speaking truth to yourself and you know it. This begins the shift on the inside that eventually leads to outer success.
We have to build up our self-esteem and New Years resolutions are the perfect opportunity to do so, but you don’t have to wait until next year to do it. Make a resolution today. Building up our confidence, self-esteem and self-worth are key to tackling the resolutions that fail. When we start loving ourselves more it becomes clear to see where we are sabotaging ourselves. When we build up our self-worth we begin to understand that we deserve better and it begins with what we give to ourselves. When we’ve done the work we’ll have the confidence to commit to the lifestyle changes necessary to lose the weight or get out of debt. Remember shame, begets shame. Love begets love.
May your next resolution be something you would enjoy, but often deprive yourself of. Vow to be good to you and the rest will follow.