Why is it virtually impossible to stick to new year's resolutions?
So it’s that time of year – a fresh start where we all want to clear out the clutter from the previous year and pick up new habits that will better our existence. But what we find (especially in my own personal experience) is that the novelty of doing that “new thing” begins to wear off and we slowly go back to our conditioned ways of sleeping late, missing deadlines and drinking too much coffee. Sound familiar? Well don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re not the only one *puts down slice of chocolate cake*. According to the statistics, only 8% of people stick to their resolutions and those who don’t usually abandon them after just one week!
I think that the problem lies in the fact that the intentions we have and goals we set do not truly align with our values, no matter how much we convince ourselves. People who have health as their top value in life DO stick to their healthy habits, exercise more often and engage in activities that improve their wellbeing. People who have money as their top value in life will work harder to make more. If it isn’t something you value, it isn’t something you will actually work hard at changing.
As simple and as cliché as it sounds, many of us will spend years trying to make changes and being frustrated that we haven’t achieved our goals at 11.59pm on December 31st.
But a handy tip that I’ve picked up during my experience of attending several professional development workshops is to simply write down your top 5 values in life – these could vary from absolutely anything such as family, to faith, to your pet dog – but they have to be things that YOU value. A good way to know whether it is something you truly value is to see how you would feel if that thing is taken away from you. Once you’ve written that list down, ask yourself: Is what I’m currently doing contributing to my top value in X, Y, Z? The first time I did this by myself it was so powerful that it led to me quitting my job! One of my highest values in life is contribution (i.e. to add value and give back to the world) and the job I was doing at the time was not fulfilling my value. Hence my feelings of resentment each year and constant frustration I felt at that period.
Once you have a clear image of what it is you really value, sticking to goals is made so much easier. If you want to improve your health this year, look at where health sits in your list of values – you’d be surprised that you don’t really value it as much as you thought while you’re still munching on that double-cheese quarter ham pounder (is that even a real sandwich?). Remember, what we say and what we value don’t always align.
However you choose to spend this new year, I wish you all the happiness and success in the world. Go move mountains!