Statements about intended actions in the future is nothing but an excuse to not do something today. Read that again and then nod in agreement. C’mon… you now it’s true. How many times have you not said things like “I’ll start eating healthy on Monday”, “I’ll start going to the gym after after my vacation” only to give up after a few days or in best case a few weeks?
And if you are about to do the same again very soon – the big New Years Resolution – continue reading and prepared to ditch that idea! For good.
The holidays are coming up and around this time of year it is very common that people think about starting fresh in the new year. I bet you have done this in the past, I know I have. Somehow it is very enticing to use this transition from one year to another as a starting point, totally understandable, but honestly…. you can do better than that.
The problem with New Year resolutions, New Month resolutions and New Monday resolutions is that they are betting on a future feeling. Let’s step back a bit and explain that. Rationally you know what is good and bad for you but knowing what to do is clearly not enough to actually do it. You know that you shouldn’t eat marshmallows for breakfast, you know you shouldn’t smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, you know you should get some exercise every week. Still people don’t do what they know they should do. Rationale doesn’t do it.
You need an emotional hook to create change. One that’s strong enough to keep you going after the initial passion has worn off. Some people say it’s discipline. Ok, to some extent but even discipline wears off if you don’t have an emotional connection to the change you set out to make.
The emotional hook can be positively or negatively charged. The current situation has to be bad enough to get you emotionally connected to making change or the vision of a new situation has to be powerful enough to get you emotionally connected to making the change.
Don’t set goals!
Firstly because they appear final and since change is the only constant you are likely to evolve your idea around your ambition. If you have a dream of being fit and set your goal for being fit as a 30 min 5k run and you find that you achieve easier than you thought, say in 2 months, you don’t want to give up running or being fit after it’s achieved, it was just a first stepping stone. Moreover, on the way to the 30min 5k run goal you are likely to evolve your thoughts around fitness and realize they running is not test of fitness, merely a test of running, so you may want to change your goal on the way. Changing the goal is then not a failure but an advancement based on better understanding of your vision of a fit lifestyle.
Secondly, by focusing on the goal instead of the process you create opportunities for your mind to shout “Failure!”. If you dream of a losing weight you may set a goal of completely avoiding refined carbohydrates (sugar, flour, white rice, etc) and replace it with fresh vegetables for 1 month. Fantastic! However, and I am sure you’ll recognize this, a few days into your new regime you will slip and have a sandwich for breakfast, maybe some white rice for lunch. It’s easy to think “damn, I failed, I can’t do this, it’s too hard, I need to figure out a new approach to losing weight”. And while thinking about the new next plan you go back to your old habits. Slipping is not failure. Every slip is an opportunity to learn and start again with stronger motivation.
Failure is not getting knocked down, it’s not getting up again. – Vince Lombardi -
Success is in the process
Instead of focusing on the goal set a vision and define milestones. To create permanent change, may that be to become fit and energetic, become a great golfer or confident public speaker the key to success in the process of getting there. Set a vision of yourself in a desired future state, outline the journey of getting there and then define milestones for the next weeks and maybe months. In the process of achieving the milestones you will evolve your understanding of what it takes to reach your vision and learn more about how you cope with the process of change. Take the opportunity to tweak your journey and refine your milestones.
The only time is now
Don’t wait for New Years Eve to start living the life you want. Man up. Take charge. The only time is now.
Read more about our approach to life and change in the Reintegrate Manifesto and then sign-up below to join the team.
[...] the Tyrollean Alps taking about life – what’s been and what’s to come. While I am not big on New Years resolutions, the transition from one year to another does make me think about the year that’s been and [...]
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