As we head into the 6th week of this budding new year. Let’s revisit our resolutions. You know, to reaffirm and reassess. All the things you’d think one would do after making a proclamation for change. Are we still in fact resolute? Have our actions over the past 5 weeks aligned with our resolutions? Both Valid questions, right?
Statistically speaking it’s around this time that most of us begin to feel a little indifferent about the changes we desired or just plain quit altogether. In fact, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton, about 71 % of resolvers kept their behavioral commitments continuous for one to two weeks. Only 46% were able to gut it out for six months. I know, you’re probably thinking, should you even make resolutions if that’s the case? The answer to that question will always be a resounding yes! Remember, you miss 100 % of the shots you fail to take.
So, why is it that some people are apt to maintaining commitments while the rest of us crash and burn. Unfortunately, there are millions of circumstances that challenge our resolve. Fleeting motivation, slow or stalled progress, the level of difficulty of the task, and even unexpected life events. So despite the story, you’re telling yourself, it's unlikely that it's simply a lack of discipline or lack of desire preventing you from consistently following through. There’s a more significant chance that your lack of follow- through is attributed to your rookie approach to change.
The great thing about rookies is that they're ambitious. They ’ll try anything. They’ll try to play every position on the court, they’ll be at the game, they’ll be at the afterparty, they’ll be at practice the next morning, at the gym, they’ll even be Netflix and chilling. Then suddenly they find themselves completely burnt out and unable to perform at the level of their capabilities. Unfortunately, this is exactly how most of us approach our New Year’s Resolutions.
”We naively try to tackle everything at once. We resolve to lose weight, while also resolving to spend more time with our friends and family. We resolve to travel more while also resolving to save and invest. We resolve to start things , while we’re still in the middle of finishing others. Which leaves us with nothing successfully completed and huge affronts to our self confidence as a result. There’s an old proverb for this
“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.”
Resolving to change a behavior is similar to changing majors. Making the decision is only the first step. Approaching the new curriculum is an entirely different story. It’s an undertaking with multiple layers. With unique obstacles, that build upon one another and increase in complexity as we move closer toward our pinnacle goal. By not treating our resolutions with the priority and importance they demand we make our first rookie mistake. So what’s the solution?
First, we must STOP with the naivety
Change is difficult. Acknowledging this fact will mentally prepare us for the journey ahead.
Second, change is layered.
Yes, we may only want to lose 10 lbs. However, this decision will touch multiple facets of our lives. It may translate into taking a different route to work, as to avoid our traditional stop at Dunkin Donuts. It could alter our social scene since there’s no more after work happy hour. It could interfere with sleeping patterns, friendships, and even monthly budgets. So, we have to be prepared to adapt as well as plan for the ripple effects of change
Third, we have to narrow our focus.
Yes, we can do anything but we can’t do everything at once. We have to decide and prioritize.
This may seem less appealing but mastering a single behavior will open new doors to the larger changes we desire.
Fourth, we must design our approach.
We don’t magically arrive anywhere. We decide where we want to go and we choose the best route to get there. We must design our resolutions in the same manner and plot out a path littered with benchmarks to keep ourselves on course.
Fifth, we have to find a coach.
Notice I said a coach and not a friend. A good community can be a great asset. However, finding a coach with expertise in the area of change we desire is imperative. Whether in the form of online coaching, mentorship , or books on the topic. A coach will have insights and experiences that can help us navigate through the complexities of the changes we desire .
Sixth, we must take time to assess our progress.
In order to build upon past success and to learn from previous mistakes we must be willing to take honest inventory of our progress / or lack there of.
Finally, we have to accept the facts .
“THERE’S LAYERS TO THIS SHIT ROOKIE.”And sometimes we’re going to miss more shoots than we make but if we keep trying eventually we’ll eventually reach pro -status .
Norcross, John & S Mrykalo, Marci & D Blagys, Matthew. (2002). Auld Lang Syne: Success Predictors, Change Processes, and Self-Reported Outcomes of New Year's Resolvers and Nonresolvers. Journal of clinical psychology. 58. 397-405. 10.1002/jclp.1151.