They’re probably appearing all around you—New Year’s Resolutions. “I’m going to lose weight.” “I’m going to be on time.” “This is my year to get organized.” I’ve joined a gym, and I’m going to go three times each week.”
What do all these New Year’s Resolutions have in common? That’s easy: They will all be forgotten in a few weeks. In their place will be old habits, old results, and the same old uneasy feeling of guilt and failure. In fact, when FranklinCovey polled more than 15,000 of their customers, they found that four out of five people will eventually break their resolutions. And even more shocking, one-third of them won’t even hang on until the end of January!
Ditch the Resolution
Making New Year’s resolutions is such a strong tradition in our culture that it is unusual to find someone who doesn’t make some kind of decision to change when the New Year rings in. But when you stop to consider the dismal outcomes of making resolutions, perhaps that unusual person is onto something. We think so, which is why we are recommending that you ditch the resolution.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
Lack of vision and planning are two of the biggest reasons that New Year’s Resolutions fail. We are creatures of habit. And in his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains that these habits are literally hard wired inside your brain. In fact, if you were to have a brain scan, your habits would be visible. Your habits are physical pathways that your brain enjoys traveling because they are familiar and it requires little energy. Since your brain is always interested in conserving energy, changing habits is not just a simple act of changing your mind; you literally have to rewire your brain and create new neural pathways.
Instead of a New Year’s Resolution approach your goals and aspirations in 2014 with these success tips instead.
Pick one. Choose one specific area that you would like to change, and focus on that area for several weeks.
Start small. Set a goal, and then break it down into manageable chunks.
Plan for roadblocks. The solution is to anticipate rough times and have a strategy in place to deal with it.
Make it visual. Get a large calendar and hang it in a prominent place. Every day that you successfully fulfill your new habit, make a big, red X on that date. Having a visual cue of your past success will motivate you to keep working on those new neural pathways.
Be clear on your “why” If you don’t have a strong “why” in front of you, you will not achieve the life change that you desire.
The good news is that while the old habit circuitry in your brain will never go away, you can build new circuits that will eventually become as strong as the old ones. When this happens, you have not just made and kept a New Year’s Resolution. Rather, you have changed your life.