Let’s talk about failed resolutions, shall we?
I am going to go to the gym 5-6 times a week, crank out some cardio and lift weights. I cannot wait to see how amazing my transformation is going to be!
…come March 1, I’m maybe going once a week, and judging by how few people I see on the elliptical now, I’m not alone.
I am going to stop getting takeout and coffee from the coffee shop. I’ve been Pinterest-ing so many great meals for the week, I bought a new coffee pot for home, and I am ready to save all of that money!
…come February 20, I’m surrounded by Starbucks cups and expensive salad bowl receipts.
I am going to meditate/journal/take time for me every day! Look at this fancy journal I got to log my process to Zen.
…come March 30, that journal is buried and that meditation app hasn’t been opened in weeks.
This isn’t just me – a 2016 study out of the University of Scranton estimates that less than 10% of New Year’s resolutions are achieved. Not surprising, especially when behavior is so difficult to change, especially when you don’t think about the science behind it. If you want to change a habit, you have to essentially create a new one, and start easy and small. For example:
In 2020 I’m going to exercise more!
This isn’t small or easy. Think of everything that goes into exercising more! You’re taking time out of your schedule, which is probably already pretty busy. You’re pushing yourself physically. Depending on how much your exercise now, you have to decide what “more” actually is – and be specific about it!
You also need to change what people refer to as “self-stories.” We all have current stories about how we interact with the world around us. By rewriting your self-story, you can break the habits you’re effectively trying to change with a new resolution. That’s usually what resolutions are, right? You’re trying to get rid of an old habit that isn’t serving you well and create a new one that will make life better. Back to my earlier examples:
Resolution: Going to the gym more
New Habit: Exercise and being “healthy”
Old Habit: “Unhealthy” behaviors
Resolution: Stop eating out
New Habit: Frugal choices with food spending
Old Habit: Excessive spending on takeout
Resolution: Meditate and journal
New Habit: Take care of mental health
Old Habit: Disregard or little attention to mental health
To change the story around those habits, you need to understand where the story is right now. Let’s take the first one, going to the gym more:
The story is that you haven’t been taking part in behaviors that make you feel your best. You haven’t been prioritizing them, making time, or making enough of an effort, whether that be completely on you or on outside factors (both are valid).
The NEW story might include you taking time out to make extra physical effort – maybe that starts as simple and specific as taking the stairs to your office or parking in the back of the parking lot to start adding physical activity to your day, especially on weeks you know you’ll be too busy to make it to the gym as much as you’d like.
This might seem simple – but stories, specifically the one we tell ourselves – are powerful. And while you might be thinking, “Oh, this won’t work,” I would love to hear your success record for your resolutions – even the ones from last year.
That’s what I thought.
See you on the other side of your new, specific, and easy story that will guide you into the New Year.