New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap. Why do I say that? Well, because the general consensus is that New Year’s resolutions simply don’t work. But the truth of the matter is that they can work, and if they don’t, it’s typically “operator error.” This may feel like tough love, but we must take responsibility for our actions because when we do, we can create anything we desire.
Here are some of the reasons New Year’s resolutions — or any resolutions, for that matter — often fail, and some simple ways that we can greatly increase our chances of success:
The problem: We often label something a New Year’s resolution when it’s really a passing desire of something we want but aren’t fully committed to achieving. The word resolution is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “a firm decision to do or not do something,” with the operative words here being “firm” and “decision.” Raymond Charles Barker, in The Power of Decision, tells us that there is only one success process, which is to “know what you want, decide it shall happen, and act upon the decision.” Williams Hutchinson Murray, the famous mountain climber, has similarly said that, “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.” The first reason New Year’s resolutions fail is that they are really not resolutions at all! There is no true decision to make a change, and therefore, there is no real commitment.
The solution: Make a list of all of the things you would like to change in 2016. Choose a maximum of three that are really important to you — the things that, if you succeed, would make 2016 a huge success. These can be called resolutions. You can add more when you have the bandwidth to take on a new challenge. But for now, as they say, put a stake in the ground. It’s time to commit!
Lack of Focus
The problem: The second reason New Year’s resolutions fail is that we too often focus on what we don’t want instead of what we do want. We say, “This year I want to lose 20 pounds,” or, “This year I want to get out of debt.” These are known as avoidance goals. Focusing on what we don’t want puts us in a vibrational frequency match with that thing (desired or not) and we get more of it. The other thing that happens when we use avoidance goals is that thinking and talking about them brings us down. It is not motivating! It’s a drag to think about being in debt or overweight. Being in a down state diffuses the power we need to stay the course.
The solution: Using what are known as approach goals puts us in a vibrational frequency match with what we do want, and thinking and talking about these desires draws us forward. In simple terms, think positively! Doesn’t it feel better to think to yourself, “This is the ideal weight I want to achieve this year,” or, “I want to find financial freedom in the new year!”? Positive aspirations lead to positive results. Words are powerful.
An Unclear Vision
The problem: The third reason New Year’s resolutions fail is that we can’t actually visualize what we want. Simply knowing what we want and deciding it shall happen is not enough to get us there. In the absence of a very attractive, tantalizing vision we are likely to lose steam. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:17)
The solution: It is crucial for you to be able to write out your vision, so you can create a clear and vivid picture that can help it come alive. You must be able to truly imagine yourself having the results you seek as if it has already happened, and to interact with that vision regularly. The vision would read something like this: “Now that I am financially free, I am able to ___________” or, “I am so excited about how I look in my ___________ now that I am at my ideal weight of ___________.”
The problem: The fourth reason New Year’s resolutions fail is that we often don’t have a plan of execution. Without a plan, we are very likely to get off track when inevitable challenges appear. Barker’s statement that we must “act upon the decision” requires a plan of action. It’s not nearly as effective to figure it out as you go.
The solution: Things get accomplished when there is a plan for getting there. Systems equal success. Your action plan will be unique and specific to your resolution, of course; yet regardless, it must include action steps and intermediate goals so that you know you are on track. That being said, it’s important to leave some flexibility so you’re not thrown off by inevitable set-backs. If you have a plan ready before you embark on your journey, the ride will be a lot smoother!
The problem: Finally, New Year’s resolutions fail because we try to bite off more than we can chew. Life is full. We can only successfully take on so much change in our lives at one time, especially if we are changing ingrained habits or big issues.
The solution: Choose one, maybe two areas to work on at a time. You can always take on more later on, and it doesn't need to wait until another new year. Decide what you really want, commit, decide it shall happen, make a plan, and begin. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Need help? Making changes can be challenging. Having a system of support can greatly increase the odds of success. If you would be interested in discussing strategies of support, click here to set up a complimentary strategy session.
Tracy Williams is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.