Happy New Year!
New Year’s resolutions seem like a great way to take stock of the last year and set goals for the next one. Unfortunately, by February around 80% off people have failed to stick to theirs. Life-changing commitments are just hard to, well, commit to. If most people can’t stay at it for six weeks, something must be wrong with the whole process.
For some, setting New Year resolutions might make you feel excited, for others, it may be a cause of undo stress or indifference.
A lot of people also approach New Year’s resolutions with an all-or-nothing attitude. They go straight from zero to 100 with no warm-up or consultation with reality. If someone hasn’t run in years, resolving to run five days a week is a ludicrous goal — it’s practically unattainable. And when they (entirely predictably) don’t meet it, instead of reassessing their goal, they chalk it up as a failure. There’s always next year, right?
In recognition of this, it is good to have at least a loose road map for the things you would like to accomplish in the new year. It certainly should not be a standard to measure yourself by, but as an exercise in faith, intention and… more often than not, good old fashioned hard work.
Here are some tips and things to remember as you set your resolutions for 2020:
- Keep your list short and the tasks manageable. Remember we tend to “measure what we treasure”. If we say we want to exercise more and set a goal to run a marathon in 6 months, we tend to get overwhelmed and give up quickly.
- Vary your goals. Instead of focusing just on our physical health – which comprise 90% of most New Year resolutions – Examine your “whole” life physically, spiritually, relationally and mentally.
- Focus on your behaviors. It has been said that what we value is demonstrated by our observable behaviors. Too often we think we can “have a great positive mental attitude” about things and they will happen naturally. Every major study ever done on change has concluded that behaviors are much more important. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think our attitude is critical, but the actual behavior change is crucial to meaningful change.
- Make your resolution public. Studies (and common sense) tell us that we need encouraging people in our lives. Make sure to nurture your own “dream team” to share your dream and keep you accountable.
- Positive Reinforcement. Remember that change takes time. Be flexible as our lives take us down many unexpected, and sometimes, curvy roads. If you slip up, don’t give up. It truly does take at least 30 days to create a new habit. Once you hit the 30 day mark, reward yourself and move forward. You’ve taken a great step toward creating a “reset” for your habits in 2020.
Here’s to a Healthy and Fruitful 2020!