Here’s how you can resolve to love (and live with) New Year’s resolutions
POSTED BY: Levi Jansen on January 28, 2019, 8:59 a.m.
We’re heading into the last few days of January — a time when I see so many great New Year’s resolutions starting to fade. Sure, early on in the month you might have been pumped up about your resolution(s). Then, you made it to the mid-month point with not a single (well, maybe one) slip-up. But by now, this whole resolution thing is getting old.
“Well, maybe resolutions just aren’t meant for me,” you say. You ponder continuing the old habits you’ve been trying to break, thinking, “There will be another, better time to focus on XYZ.” And then you remember that you kinda despise making resolutions, anyway, and wonder why you even bothered.
Why I Love New Year’s Resolutions
You might find this hard to believe, but I absolutely love making new year’s resolutions! I find it to be a new way to challenge myself each year, and consider it a simple path to a happier life. And it seems I’m not alone in liking the annual “I resolve to” process.
I’ve heard that almost half of the people who make a New Year’s resolution will still be going strong at the six-month point. That’s a great number, in my opinion!
To help you stick with your resolution(s) for six months —hopefully, longer — here’s my advice, not based on statistical analysis or data-driven studies, but my own experience.
The Motivational Part About Mindset
I think that the biggest reason why people are unable to keep their New Year’s resolutions is that they’re unable to recommit, again and again. We’ve all experienced a little failure and been able to recommit. But what if you have a major failure, or maybe fail for a very long time? That is when you really find out if you’re able to recommit, get back up and keep working toward your goal. Being able to recommit is understanding that if you stumble, you can and must begin again.
The second most important thing I can tell you is that most people run their resolutions on motivation and motivation alone. But when the motivation dies, dedication has to kick in. Let me explain something I’ve learned about motivation from being involved on multiple sports teams, as a fitness trainer and as a business owner.
Dedication Does the Real Work
Motivation can get you to jump higher, work harder, rev you up and bring out the best in you. But dedication does the real work. Dedication comes in when motivation and willpower are gone.
Dedication is that small, powerful voice that says, “But I have to.” Dedication is when you reach down further than you think is even possible to find the grit and determination that’s deep inside you. Motivation makes you do all that you can do, but dedication makes you do what you can’t.
If you want to get something done for more than just a few weeks, you must change your mindset from “I’m going to do …” to “I am doing …”
The Kinda Boring, but Practical Part
Up to this point, I shared my thoughts on mindset. Here are a few practical tips:
- Add a trigger to your desired behavior. A trigger is something you do regularly, like every day, that you can connect to a desired behavior. For example, if you’re trying to remember your medication, take it as soon as you brush your teeth in the morning.
- Make a habit of good habits, and ditch the bad ones. Get a good-habit streak going, until it feels “off” if you don’t continue it. If you want to cut out a bad habit, replace it with something else. Quitting smoking? Have a sugar-free piece of candy every time you want to smoke. (Note: If you’re considering quitting smoking, always talk to your doctor beforehand.) Don’t want to go home after work and just sit in front of the TV? Instead, come work out with me at Time 2 Change, run an errand, meet up with a friend or be a volunteer somewhere. These new and better habits will keep you from getting in more TV time.
- Each day, do a little writing. Write out the things you’re working on — on a piece of paper, in a fancy journal, on a plain note card or even writing on your hand works! Write it in print or in cursive, just don’t type it. (There’s something about the act of writing that makes thoughts stick.) A daily practice of writing out thoughts about your goals will help you recommit to them over the long haul.
If you haven’t noticed, all of these tips come down to one thing, and that is to embed your resolution into your life. Your resolution isn’t simply something that you’re doing on top of everything else … it’s part of your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly “upkeep.” Whatever you are doing is just part of your life, just like spending time with friend and family, making sure that you get enough sleep or eating healthy. Some days you may love this continual focus, and some days you may hate it. But in the end, it’s just part of life and not something extra that you set and forget in the first month of each year.
Resolve to Love (and Live With) Resolutions
Instead of dreading talk about New Year’s resolutions (we’ve all been there, I know), change your thoughts about them. Think of them as a simple path to a better life. And if you feel like you’re starting to lose steam — like your resolution simply isn’t meant for you — that’s normal. But why not try embedding your resolution into your life?! Then, you’ll recommit to it when motivation wanes because it’s truly part of your life.
And if you haven’t made a resolution for 2019, you still have time. Come on and join me. I promise it’ll be fun and rewarding …