Happy New Year! Can you believe that some statistics say New Years Resolutions are ditched less than three weeks into the new year? Wow. I do think resolutions, in general, are outdated. I mean, what IS a resolution? It’s merely the decision to do or not to do a particular thing. You just resolve to do or not to do. Seems simple enough.
The big problem with new years resolutions is the fact that most people set them based on what they think they SHOULD be doing (make a mental note here of that word should) and not necessarily what they WANT to be doing. Okay? Let that sink in.
Want is your motivation. Should is your downfall. So, maybe work on eliminating that word “should” from your vocabulary! Why do we think we should get a beach body? Well, because everywhere we look advertisers are telling us that should be our goal for summer! Hello? The word “should” actually undermines our ability to DO what is important to us. “Should” steals our follow through.
Past-tense should’s are even worse. “I should have eaten better yesterday,” ugh what a guilt trip you’re giving yourself! Try using the words “could” or “would like to” instead: “I could have eaten better yesterday.” See how much better that sounds?!
Here’s a hot topic in our house right now. Tell me which statement you think your family members would be more responsive to:
- “you should clean that dirty bathroom” or
- “you know, if you could clean that dirty bathroom, I would appreciate it so much.”
Don’t think I have this figured out guys, I’m still working on it, but I’m just giving you a healthy bite to think on. So swap your shoulds for coulds and woulds.
goals vs. resolutions
Okay, back to the New Years Resolutions. Are goals and resolutions the same thing? Do you think a goal feels more outcome focused? With a goal, it is the result you are looking for or the reward of your efforts.
If you prefer you can listen to this as in my podcast Realistic Tips for using the Momentum of a New Year.
New Years Goals make more sense to me than New Year's Resolutions though similar. Either way, experts say that most goals and resolutions do not last. You see both can be a recipe for judging yourself (and well, sometimes others).
You know how it goes if you resolve to run every Saturday morning. Come mid-February you sleep through your run because you were super tired and just couldn’t drag yourself out of bed; then you feel like an utter and complete failure because you had resolved to do the thing and now you haven’t done it.
Let's say your goal this year is to improve your 13-minute mile to a 10-minute mile. Come December, you are still running an 11-minute mile; you technically didn’t achieve your goal. Your goal distracted you from the fact that you improved your time by 2 minutes. The thing is whether it's resolutions or goals you’re always looking toward some future “thing” rather than just focusing on what you are accomplishing right now. With a new mindset, why wait, you can start new goals in any month!
Take pride in the everyday accomplishments! Yes, I do think we benefit when we set goals, have vision boards, and strive to improve in the areas that are important to us. I just believe we can achieve more when we see our goals and resolutions more as day to day good decision making! See the year as an overall picture, a mural of your year. When you begin to see the big picture that's when you are working towards something measurable.
If you miss your Saturday morning run, it’s not like the whole New Year’s thing is a wash! “Well, I missed my run today, guess I’ll try again next year!” Come on! But that’s how so many of us are, right? I can slip into this pattern with my eating plan, and when I do, I have learned to see that as a red flag. Time to reevaluate.
Look, I have a thing about fresh starts, I love New Years for the symbolic “clean slate” that it is. Just like I love Mondays because it’s the start of a fresh new week; a chance to do better than last week. It's the chance to begin again.
decision fatigue can be the downfall of resolutions and goals
The key to this whole thing is getting your mindset on making those resolutions and goals your everyday norm. To have success in making your goals into habits is that you don’t want to have to make that decision every day.
You know how frustrating it is to be in the car with someone who doesn’t know where they want to eat, right? That kind of thing creates decision fatigue. So if you don’t have to make the decision, then you save yourself time, energy, and the possibility of not doing the thing you need to do.
So how do you focus on achieving these things? Create habits. Why is it a habit? A habit is something you do without really thinking about it. I am in the habit of skipping the soda aisle; it doesn’t occur to me, I don’t have to decide, will I buy soda this week? No, I am in the habit of drinking water and therefore that decision is already made.
Same when I go out to eat, the server asks me what I would like to drink I don’t have to think about it, water it is. I never order anything but water. I made this decision back in 2003, and I haven’t wavered from it since then. I never order tea or soda. I order water. Decision made; done deal.
So that’s how I would like you to think about your goals and resolutions this year. Remembering the key is to make that idea a habit; determine once and for all, then it is done. You don’t have to wake up and wonder if you are going to the gym today; you GO to Yoga on Tuesdays at 9:30 every week. That’s what you do. It’s really simple when you think about it.
I read an article about former President Barack Obama. Being the president is a job filled with LOTS of decision making. He says that to pare down the number of decisions he had to make he chose to wear only grey or blue suits. The reason being that he didn't want to wear himself out with little choices, so he made that decision ahead of time.
The concept illustrates why I prefer to go grocery shopping in the morning before decision fatigue has a chance to overwhelm me into making poor choices when it comes to food.
So that is how I deal with the new year, every year. I simply continue to build good, healthy habits and I re-evaluate them at New Year, but I also check in throughout the year.
just another day
I know many people say it is just another day, but it’s NOT just another day! The new year is therapeutic for me, and I believe, for many others. So use the momentum of a new year to create your healthy habit, to make your once and for all decisions.
If nothing else, a new year can be a time for reflection. What worked last year, what didn’t work, what can I do differently? What are my areas that need improvement? What are the things that I rocked this past year? If you write down your “goals” for the new year, don’t scrap them! Just make sure you are setting smart goals. Look at them as habits you are working on creating. Not just in January, but all year, check in with your goals. Again at the end of the year you can just go back and look at them and see where you are.