To Resolution or not to Resolution? That is the question.
If you haven’t been asked yet this year if you’ve set any New Year’s resolutions, well, you probably haven’t spoken to anyone. It’s a favourite question to ask each other as we roll into a fresh orbit around the sun. Some people have clear goals but the majority of us mumble something about ‘reading more’ or just shrug ‘nah.’
Why are so many of us resolution-less? The stats on accomplishing a NYR might have something to do with it. Fewer than 10% of people who set resolutions keep them for longer than a few months. I mean, with numbers like that, why bother?
(I’m decidedly anti-NYR. I mean, goodness, what on earth makes January 1 better than any other random day to set a goal? My less compassionate side thinks that NYRs are just a procrastination tactic for most people who spend the first half of the year failing their NYR and the second half waiting to start their next failed attempt.)
However, whether you’re into New Years resolutions or not isn’t the subject of this post. Finding ways to make you more likely to achieve your resolutions or implement change is, be it January, July or some month that exists in the fourth dimension.
Change is hard but it’s awesome so do it.
When it comes to achieving a goal or implementing change, there’s a lot of easy missteps to make along the way. While failing (and picking yourself back up!) is undoubtedly part of the process, here’s a couple tips to help you approach change and growth with more effective tools and a healthy mindset:
1. Find some clarity
What exactly are you trying to accomplish? Is it a long term lifestyle change, getting rid of a bad habit or are you tackling a very specific goal (i.e. running a marathon)? All are awesome but you have to know what you’re truly gunning for.
Overall lifestyle improvements are made achievable with small, sustainable changes. If you’re going to do something wicked hard, RIGHT ON, but be sure it has a clear beginning and end date, that it fits into your life at the time you’re attempting it, and that you have the correct support and guidance to healthily pursue it.
Be clear with yourself. And realistic. Pick ONE goal or ONE habit to change at a time. There is probably nothing more discouraging than failing time and time again simply because you chose the wrong goal.
2. Get your ‘Why’ right
This is an important one. The reason behind why you’re setting a certain goal is as important as the goal itself. If your motivation for change comes from an emotionally unhealthy place, many not-so-great outcomes await you.
For example, maybe you want to lose weight. Why? If your motivation comes from believing that if you are overweight you are unworthy of love and acceptance, this would be an example of an unhealthy reason to lose weight. Unless you do some emotional work (advocating therapy here when needed!) ALONG with the weight loss work, you will realize that simply losing weight will never resolve your self worth issues.
Exercise those self awareness muscles to honestly answer why you want to change. If you discover some unhealthy reasons such as vanity, peer/parental/societal pressure, or feelings of inadequacy, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon your goals but it does mean addressing the emotional aspect behind the change you seek should be part of your process.
3. Be accountable
Tell someone. Tell everyone. Tell your loved ones, put it on social media, make a bumper sticker for your car, whatever works for you. Share your plan, what you hope to accomplish, how you’re going to do it. The more your goal is out there, the scarier it is (it makes it very real!) but it’s also more likely you’ll have the support and accountability to stick with your plan. Especially when it gets hard, which brings us too…
4. Summon the grit
Grit. Synonymous with words like determination, perseverance, and discipline, and phrases like dig deep, buckle down and level up. You’re going to have to cultivate those characteristics. Real change and big goals will call for you to get gritty at times so mentally prepare yourself for the challenge.
Find inspiration for tackling the hard stuff. Read about other people who have accomplished big goals. Find quotes that motivate you and keep them where you can easily see them. Remind yourself that you’re capable of more than you might think you are. Remember that it’s OKAY for something to be difficult.
5. Be willing to adjust
This final point might seem counterintuitive but sometimes you have to be willing adjust your goal. That’s the thing about goals. It’s interesting. You really don’t know what you’re going to learn in the process and you have to be open to change course from time to time.
The process, the deliberate, prolonged attempt to do something difficult, that’s where most of the benefits come from, not from actually achieving the goal. You learn about who you are and what you want when you set out to achieve a goal. And sometimes you have to alter your course slightly to be true to who you are. If you’re always moving towards a stronger, better version of yourself, you’ll have to allow your goals to evolve or be fluid at times.
Personal anecdote: I’m a freestyle snowboarder, formerly quite high level. Many years ago I set a goal to do a 900. So I set about pursuing that. I moved to Colorado, I hired a coach, I spend hours and hours on snow. Eventually I realized that setting such a specific goal started to make me hate snowboarding, which was unfortunate because snowboarding brings me more joy than just about anything in life. So I let go of the 900 goal and changed it to something more ‘me’; always progressing my riding but never to the point where I lose the joy it brings me. Sure, that 900 would have been cool but really the pursuit of it is where I found the real magic. It brought me so many amazing adventures, people and lessons that I would have never experienced had I not set that initial goal.
WHAT YOU GET BY ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT YOU BECOME BY ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS.– Thoreau
Anytime is a good time
Change can begin on January 1, if that’s your jam, but it sure doesn’t have to. And if you’re ever looking for some extra motivation to pursue a new goal, know that anytime you challenge yourself and tackle a big goal you inspire others to do the same. And that makes us all better.