It is a brand new year. Time to throw out the old and bring in the new. The time of year when we might do a personal spring clean as it were and set the intention to drop those ‘bad’ habits and adopt new, more healthy habits. Well, that’s the theory at least!
How many of us told ourselves that in the new year we will lose weight, stop smoking, exercise every day, get up earlier in the morning, stop taking sugar in tea, give up alcohol or coffee, learn to play the piano, start writing that book that’s been formulating for years? These are perhaps the most common new year resolutions but of course the list is potentially endless.
How’s it going?
Did you fall at the first hurdle? Are you still going strong? Did you even set off in the first place?
If you woke up on 1st January with a spring in your step, full of determination and energy for your new passion project but feel yourself flagging already, take heart – you are not alone! According to a study last year from the UK, 64% of adults surveyed over a two-month period abandoned their new year’s resolution within one month. Other studies suggest the percentage is higher – more like 80%!
Why do we fail to keep our resolutions?
More often than not, we fail at maintaining the momentum of a resolution because the goal we set in the first place is too vague. “I’m going to get fit”, “I’m going to be more healthy”, “I’m going to be more happy” – these are such non-specific goals. We also tend to repeat the resolution every year, despite the fact that it never happened in previous years!
According to Kathy Caprino (writer, speaker, educator and leadership coach), the reason why most of our new year’s resolutions ‘die on the vine’ as she describes it, is due to much deeper issues than we might realise.
In many cases there is a big disconnect between what our mind, or rather our consciousness, wants and the way we behave. Until we align the two, nothing’s gonna change! Caprino believes that we must change aspects of ourselves in order to attract and sustain positive treatment in our lives, because bad habits, poor choices or the inability to sustain healthy habits ‘stems from old problems deeply ingrained. “This chronic condition can emerge from childhood, where our boundaries were violated in some core way and we were never able to speak up and stand up for ourselves because it was not safe to do it.”
Support, when embarking on something new, is also very important and vital for success. It is very hard for many of us to hold ourselves accountable when we go it alone. Caprino: “Big changes and important goals don’t just happen. They require sustained action (and a different kind of action than you’re used to) that can move you forward towards the goal despite the challenges, struggles and pushback. That sustained action is difficult to achieve on our own because it stretches us way out of our comfort zone and out of our habitual ways of dealing with life.” Most of us benefit from outside help and a ‘partner’ of some kind who helps us maintain structure towards our goals, enabling us to become our best selves. With any activity that requires sustained input, it’s during the dips and dark times that we need strong scaffolding.
More often than not our monkey mind gets the better of us and we self-sabotage our own road to success, thus stifling our growth. How many times have you told yourself absolutely genuinely that you are going to do something, to then become gripped with fear because your internal belief system convinces you you are not worthy or not capable? A phenomena known as ‘imposter syndrome’.
Cultivating positive beliefs and behaviours is so important (that’s one reason why we start doing so with our youngest students at Julia Gabriel Education) because when we do this, it builds a solid foundation of self-belief that helps us attain goals.
Tips to successfully maintain your New Year’s resolution
- Be specific about what you want to achieve and know why you want to achieve it
- Set a realistic path to reach your goal. What motivates you and what are you likely to sustain?
- Engage an accountability partner for support
- Believe that you ‘can’ do it and that you deserve success
Another way of course to avoid your New Year’s resolutions petering out sooner than planned, is not to make any in the first place! The self-assessment approach – looking at what worked last year and what didn’t, and what you would like to focus on this year – may be a more rewarding, and importantly, sustainable approach to successfully progressing through the year. Whatever you choose…