It’s January, which means that New Year’s resolutions have either begun to take effect, or we’ve already broken them. Even for those of us who don’t make New Year’s resolutions (I am one of those people), we still use the New Year as an excuse to start or stop something. For me, it was to kick the holiday weight and start being a little more careful with my body.
There is nothing wrong with New Year’s resolutions per se. After all, what’s wrong with resolving to be a better person? Nothing. Well, almost nothing.
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that we keep making them, and often they are the same resolutions year after year. Whether it’s losing weight, quitting your job, going to the gym, making more money, or whatever it may be, chances are pretty good that this is not the first year you’ve made that resolution.
If you want to change your habits or your position in life, a New Year’s resolution is not going to cut it.
Forbes published an article about New Year’s resolutions based on research done by the University of Scranton. They wanted to know what percentage of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions (they used Americans, so it may fluctuate based on country). The answer? 8%. In other words, 92% of people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions are based on the idea that a new year equals a fresh start. This is not the case.
When you start the new year, you still have all the baggage and all the habits you had the previous year. And the year before that. And so on.
This year is 2017. Guess what? You’re still the same person you were in 2016. I’m still the same person I was in 2016. You and I didn’t magically become new people when the clock struck midnight on December 31st.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with setting goals for yourself for a year. It’s important to set annual goals for yourself. But if you want to change your habits or change something about who you are or your self-identity, your New Year’s resolution is not the answer.
So what is the answer?
If you want to change something about who you are, you have to give yourself a reason to do it.
You want to lose weight? Why? Not because it’s a new year. Not because you want to look good in the summer. Those are too trivial.
You want to get that promotion? Why? To make more money or to advance up the corporate ladder aren’t good enough reasons to sustain the habits you will need to make (and break) in order to achieve that goal.
What is your end goal? Think big here. You want to lose weight. How much? What weight do you want to be? You want the promotion. Why? What end goal will that promotion get you to? And if you have no goal beyond that promotion, you should rethink your job-choice.
Once you know what your end goal is, envision how your life would change if you met that goal. Can you imagine it? Does it feel good? It better, because the anticipation of that feeling is what will sustain you in the coming year. That is vision. Being able to imagine your end goal and to use that image to push yourself through the tough times, that is vision.
Changing habits is tough. So is success. If you want to change something about yourself or succeed in a place that you haven’t before, it is going to require a lot of hard work and dedication. You need a vision to sustain yourself through that hard time.
If you have that vision to push yourself through the difficult times, you can stop making New Year’s resolutions. You won’t need them anymore. And isn’t that the whole point?
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