New Years Resolutions and the Power of Change
Each January, millions of people from around the globe make the famed ‘New Years Resolution’. I have no doubts over the years we have all made our fair share and most likely, have been guilty of slipping back to our old ways sometime after. To begin with, if you have failed in the past on a New Years resolution, it should be refreshing to know that you do not have to wait until the next New Year to begin a new one!
The purpose of this article is to illustrate the importance of making resolutions and to identify the fatal flaws people make when trying to carry them out. The New Years resolution is all about reflection and change. Each New Year, people have that natural tendency to reflect over their lives, and upon reflecting, feel the impulse to change something or some things for the better. It is generally this time of year that people start reflecting as not only are they about to embark on a New Year, but also because they are on holidays and therefore feel, they finally have time to ‘think’.
We all have demands or ‘pulls’ on our life, those things that dominate our focus and time. Soon everything we think and do is about meeting the demands of these pulls. An example of this is a parent who finally sits down to eat breakfast hours after getting up due to their primary focus being organizing her children for the morning. So too, the worker who rarely spends time with their family due to daily overtime or the young professional who rarely seems to have time to eat properly. These pulls come in many forms, and cause us to slip into poor life habits. Consequently, our health, energy and stress levels, happiness and sanity are all jeopardised by these demands.
There Are No Rules For Reflecting
The first thing we must come to realise is that there is no rule stipulating that the only period of the year we are permitted to reflect on our lives is the New Year’s period. The happiest and healthiest people on this planet are those who make a regular routine of self-assessment. This is because they have the ability to ‘catch themselves’ before falling into a bad habit that will affect their personal life, relationships, work, health etc.
The Key To Refining Your Reflection
Reflecting works much like catching a train to a destination we have never been. Upon boarding, we seek out the map of the rail network. First, we find our current position (or station), then follow the line (or route) ahead to see where it will take us. If it does not link up with our desired destination, we look for the station that we must get off to change lines. By following this formula, we always make our destination. This process usually takes us no more than a few minutes.
Our lives can work much the same. We must look at our current situation, current health, happiness, relationships, work etc. Next, we must think forward to see where we will end up if we do not change lines at some stage. If we keep eating what we do, how healthy will we be? If we keep up the same exercise patterns, same intensity or level of communication in our relationship, same work regiment etc, what destination are we heading for? If any of the answers do not conjure up positive images, then it is time to change lines to meet your desired destination. Just like catching a train, this takes only a few minutes each week or month, and everyone has a few minutes.
Why We Should All Make Resolutions
As stated earlier, resolutions are about change. Unless you are living your life’s dream, change will always be essential. Change is a natural part of life. When confronted with decisions about life change, people often use the term “that’s just the way I am”. This is quite frankly, a load of garbage as every single day our lives are forever changing – it just happens over time so we are not aware of the change. Our attitudes, ambitions, vocabulary etc are all being shaped one way or another each day. The only choice we have in the matter is that it can happen unconsciously or consciously. The power of ‘conscious’ change is that we can choose how it is we will change.
With the knowledge that we are forever changing, those who consciously change will reap the rewards while those who allow their natural flow of the world to change them will forever be frustrated. This is because of a fundamental law of the universe, that is that all things positive require energy and that without energy, the natural flow of the universe is to the negative.
Allow me to illustrate my point: If you want a garden to flourish then it requires your time and care. However, if you are happy with a garden full of weeds, it requires no effort at all, as time will take care of it for you. If you want to have light all day, you must take action and flick a switch as darkness will come automatically with time otherwise. If you want a clean house, you must take action, as cobwebs and dust come automatically. If you want positive health, to be fit and healthy, if you desire a great relationship, these all require energy. Take no action and then the universe will ensure they all suffer, for the natural flow of the universe is to the negative, towards wear and tear.
When we understand that anything given no thought, no action or no priority will always flow towards the negative, we begin to appreciate the absolute necessity for reflection and resolution in our lives. The wonderful thing about this is that reflection and resolution is an easy thing to do. The scary thing about them is that they are also easy not to do.
Fatal Flaws In People’s Resolutions
Whether it be a New Years resolution, or a just a new resolution, there are common ingredients that will inevitably lead to failure or success. The following are some fatal flaws you should be aware of in order to make your resolution a success.
Failing To Be Specific
Having a broad goal is not enough. Saying I want to lose weight will not help you. How much weight do you want to lose? Wanting to spend more time with your family is not enough. How much time do you want to spend with them? It matters not what your goal is, karate, health or personal goals etc. To make it a success you must be specific about exactly what it is you want. You cannot stay motivated about something you are unsure of. Knowing exactly what you want will help you see it clearly in your mind, and the great thing about life is that we always move towards those things we picture in our mind – whether positive or negative.
Failing To Create An Action Plan
Wanting something and being specific about it is not enough, but it steps one. Next, it is time to sit down and plan out how we will achieve it. If for example, our goal is to spend more time with our family, then we must come up with an action plan. What days can we commit to leaving work on time? What activities can we do on weekends? What night can we sacrifice watching sport on TV and replace it with playing sport with our family etc. If you want to take up painting again, have an action plan, buy paints and canvas. Set out time in your life that you will commit to painting etc.
Sitting down and writing out an action plan does three things:
- Firstly, it makes our goal appear achievable for we have tangible steps to follow.
- Secondly, it gives us extra motivation by seeing it laid out in front of us.
- Thirdly, we feel worthy of achieving it because we have taken the time to plan it out.
Failing To Tell Others
Many people make the error of keeping their resolutions to themselves. They take the mode of thinking that “If I fail, no one will know and I will save embarrassment”.
If you truly desire success, then you should share your goal with the supportive people in your life. We all have times where our resolve is weak and temptation rears its ugly head. In these times, our support network can keep us strong.
Failing To Set Out Stepping Stones
Our lives are controlled by habits and therefore turning our life patterns around takes time. Starting with the desired destination in mind is a start, but it is equally important to have smaller stepping stones along the way.
For example, a person who wishes to lose 20cm around their waist should set out smaller stepping stones with small rewards for every 5cm lost.
Stepping stones give you an immediate, believable target to reach for and will keep your motivation burning.
Failing To Control Peer Group Pressure
This is something that does not affect every person but can be the fatal flaw for others. We discussed above the necessity to involve others in our resolutions. Sadly for some, they may attract criticism for this.
For example, deciding to cut out beer from their diet might attract jokes from beer drinking friends. Wanting to spend more time with the family might attract ridicule from friends who do not have families. In addition, there are those in our lives who whenever we talk of the future, respond with “you’re dreaming”.
In situations such as these, our desire to look good in front of our friends may derail us from our path. There are two ways to look at this. One, our friends are just teasing and were you to speak openly with them, you would most likely discover that they actually proud of you. And two, if you were to discover they were not proud, then they are not really your friends so why bother what they think?
Failing To See The Consequences of Not Following Through
We develop resolutions because we are unhappy about something in our lives. When we embark on our resolution, as stated above, we have to fight our habits. Even if our habits were bad, they are still what we are comfortable with. This means that any time we want to change something in our lives, we must go through a short period of emotional, and perhaps physical pain. When we focus on this pain, suddenly we are faced with a new decision…do I really want my resolution?
Not only should we keep our mind’s eye on the prize of success, we should keep in mind our future should we ‘not’ see ourselves through. This keeps a pleasurable goal pulling us forward and a painful image pushing us forward.
We hope you’re able to take these words and use them to help you set, stay both focused and motivated and most importantly achieve any resolution you set to improve your life!