So, it’s February. And what do you have to show for it? Have you climbed those mountains yet? Taken charge at work? Stopped picking up after your kids/partner? (Yes, I know. I’ll wait here while you catch your breath from laughing so hard…)
There is never enough to show, if you subscribe to the pressures of this whole ‘New Year, New You’ stuff. We see the start of a year as a chance to set goals, make intentions, resolve to do more/be better/try harder…and then we find as time goes on we struggle to make said intentions, or our resolutions change, or things get in the way of our goals. And we’re not the ‘new people’ we hoped we would be.
You’re not the only one
Research has actually shown that most New Years resolutions don’t tend to hold. The first couple of weeks we set our resolution and we charge along. Go us! But then by February (so right NOW), the majority of us will have already gone off track with our plans.
We try to set New Year’s resolutions in an effort to motivate ourselves. And it sure can…for the first couple of weeks. But if we’re not truly ready to make a change, then we’re not going to stick to it. Fact.
The other reason we tend to fizzle by Feb is that we set such lofty goals, or expect ourselves to just ‘transform’ into this magical unicorn of a being, that we can never quite achieve it in full. Thus rather than persist, we give up and give the middle finger to the resolution.
By the end of the year we’re left reflective, disappointed and holding a bottle of Yellow wondering just how the hell people drink that shit. There’s even a term for it; false hope syndrome, coined by Peter Herman and colleagues (read more about it here if you’re keen).
See, this whole ‘New Year, New You’ mantra?
Let’s get real
We don’t have to be new, we don’t have to set lofty resolutions. We just have to be us. There are going to be parts of us we don’t love, and that’s okay. We come as a package of ups and downs, good and bad.
Too often these days we’re saturated with the happy happy, and we often overlook the realistic. We don’t all have to strive for the stars, or always be grateful or even #blessed. There is going to be some crap that goes down this year, and some plans might get derailed. That’s life.
What can we do about it?
So what can you do if your ‘New Year, New You’ resolution has already fallen by the wayside?
- CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK. It’s okay if plans get waylayed. What else can you do instead?
- Instead of focusing on what you haven’t achieved, what have you done already? I bet you’ve done more than you realise.
- If there is something big you want to achieve, break it into smaller parts. Goals are much more likely to be achieved if we break them down and make it manageable.
- Instead of setting a hard and fast date (like the end of the year) to get shit done, call it a review time. So, if you haven’t achieved everything by that set date, that’s okay, you’re reviewing where you’re at and then you can decide whether you continue on with the same plan, or you change tracks. There’s no wrong way to achieve something!
- Change those shoulds and musts into will try. These things are often a thinking error: a clever little mental shortcut our brains like to take that can lead us down a garden path. If you tell yourself, “I should lose 10kg by June”, then you’ve unwittingly set some pressure on yourself. It can imply that it has to happen, and if it doesn’t then you feel you’ve let yourself down. By simply switching it to “I will try to lose 10kg by June”, suddenly that pressure’s not there. You’re trying, and that’s the most you can ask of yourself.
- If your resolution has become derailed, it doesn’t mean you can’t try again. Why wait for the start of the year to give something a go?
And perhaps the most important ingredient?
BE READY FOR CHANGE. But that change has to be a change for you. Not because you think it’s what others want, or you’ve seen someone else do it and think “well it made them happy, so it will make me happy too”.
And if there are barriers to your readiness? Go talk that shit out. See a professional, or a trusted confidant and rummage through those barriers. Write it down. Run it out. Scream into your pillow; whatever you need to do in order to start a shift.
So, sit back, pat yourself on the back and take a sip of bubbly. Just not Yellow. You’re doing okay, and don’t let yourself forget it.
How have your New Year’s resolutions gone so far?