Make Life Resolutions rather than just New Year's Resolutions
Updated: Jan 20, 2021
It’s that time of year where many of us will be making our annual New Year’s Resolutions yet, only to break them in less than a month’s time. Why do we put ourselves through this?! Especially after the year that we have just been through which was a total sh*tshow for pretty much everyone.
For many people resolutions are about giving up a bad habit and taking on a good one. After all it is the start of a new year with new beginnings and therefore new directions and renewed motivation to improve ourselves.
In my case, I have made the same resolution for the past 4 years – to meditate daily. I have yet to achieve this. And I am a bloody coach! Who focuses on wellbeing!!
Why resolutions fail
A few issues crop up when we try to keep our resolutions – one being that we often base them on feelings of guilt or based on what other people are doing or even what they think we should be doing.
Then we have the logistical pain of actually doing them as we massively underestimate how long it will take us to let go of a bad habit and adopt a good one. Some will say it takes 21 days – bad news folks as it takes approximately 66 days before a new ‘good’ habit becomes automatic.
And we don’t make it easy on ourselves, do we? Oh no! We often think that because it is January, we can overhaul our entire lives by giving up smoking, running an hour every day, becoming vegan, reducing the booze the booze and phoning our mother at least twice a week.
It’s too much for our brains, bodies and willpower to cope with and therefore it is no wonder that a 1/3 of resolutions fail within the first month!
What can we do?
After the stresses, strains, trauma and loss that 2020 inflicted on us forming resolutions will undoubtedly be harder and may even seem a bit shallow this time around.
Instead let’s look at what we learnt from last year – if there are any redeeming features from 2020 one may be that many of us rediscovered our values in life – what we truly hold dear to us.
Now is the time to start living in accordance with these values by finding our purpose in our life, with our family & friends, in our careers, in our interests and social life.
Whereas a resolution is like a goal (and we all know that I love a goal!) they are somewhat finite and can become a box ticking exercise rather than something to guide us through life and adhere to at all times. Therefore, once the box is ticked, we have a tendency to sit on our laurels. By living a life true to our values, we create good habits which last a lifetime. Thereby, we create and live the life we not only want but also deserve and one which serves us well.
How do we do this?
Firstly – discover what your values are. One simple way to identify your values is to construct your perfect day and some questions to ask yourself are:
What kind of work would you be doing?
Where would you be living?
Who would you spend the day with?
Other than work, what activities (reading, travelling, cooking, making love, etc.) would you be doing and enjoying?
Your answers are your daily life criteria and you can take these to the next stage:
List up to ten daily life criteria for a perfect day.
What are the values these daily life criteria reflect?
What directions do these values move you in?
How does your typical day compare to this perfect day?
What is standing in the way of you meeting these criteria for having more perfect days?
(Gregg Krech and Linda Anderson-Krech of the ToDo Institute )
By aligning our values with our resolutions, we can create value goals and in breaking these down into easy stepping stones we can action daily, weekly and monthly. This will help us create those good habits which will then become second nature to us.
Asking ourselves what the intention is behind each resolution brings the purpose and value and the goal provide us with a structure which motivates us – a win-win!
By focusing on the daily steps and intentions we are much less likely to suffer from overwhelm and if we track our progress with set rewards at each stage that is an added boost of motivation for us. (Make mine a double G&T!)
My value behind my meditation resolution is self-development and personal growth – I struggle with it. A lot. Yet I can feel and see the benefits as I am calmer, more productive and more attuned to my clients.
Making it Happen
In coaching we often talk about setting measurable goals as this is how we see if what we are doing is working, keeps us on track and stops that nasty overwhelm from creeping in.
By asking of each goal or good habit “who will do how much of what by when?” allows us to really understand the stages to achieve our intentions.
In my case “I will meditate every Saturday and Sunday morning after my workout for 10 minutes until end of January. Then I will meditate for 10 minute every Saturday, Sunday and Monday until end of February.” And so on and so on.
Not only am I taking it gently, I am making manageable so instead of every day I am doing it on the days I know have time and gradually increasing my practice. At the end of each month I can review my progress by either using a calendar or an app or a simple tick the day exercise.
I may wish to review my approach and increase my meditation time or add in extra days or the time of my practice – as long as we stay adaptable yet committed, we will see results.
Keeping it Going
Remember earlier when I mentioned that one third of resolutions are dropped within the first month – of course you do – we all suspect it is higher as well!
And this is where we can bring in some outside help – asking our partner, a family member, a friend or colleague to help keep us accountable can keep us on track.
If you want to be financially accountable then consider getting a mentor or coach on your side – the improvements you will see will be huge across your entire life and not only will they hold you accountable they will support and champion your wins and your progress.
And we all need a little lift now and then so I wish you all the very best for 2021 especially with your values based resolutions.
I’m off to be zen. With a G&T!