I have mixed feelings about New Year’s Resolutions.
On the one hand, it’s good to spend time thinking about what you’d like to accomplish or change in the year ahead. We want to lose weight, find love, start a business, learn to play harmonica (that one was mine)… All good stuff.
According to a recent study, only 9.2% of people who made resolutions in 2016 felt they achieved them. It’s almost as if making a resolution implies that there’s no way you will actually follow through. I still don’t know how to play the harmonica. Fail.
The sad part is that due to our lousy goal setting and follow through, we’ve taken a very powerful word and tainted it.
For example, those who spend a lot of time in the gym can be heard this time of year talking about “resolutioners.” These are the new people who show up on January 2, buy a membership, work out sporadically for a month, and then never come back again.
The root word of resolution is “resolve” which means to “decide firmly on a course of action.” That sounds pretty significant, doesn’t it?
But, it seems that we’ve abandoned the “decide firmly” part. I think a more apt definition of a New Year’s Resolution is “a half-hearted suggestion that no one expects you to follow through on.”
It’s a bummer. Because the idea of declaring your intentions and goals is profoundly powerful.
So, maybe this year, we could break the cycle. Instead of resolutions, let’s set goals. Instead of resolutions, let’s write manifestos.
- Goals help program our unconscious and subconscious minds to recognize opportunity and move us in that direction. Goals and intentions are how we fine tune our intuition to help us know when we are on the right path and when we’ve lost our way.
- Written and declared intentions, when shared with others, invite support and help. If I know you are on a quest to lose 50 pounds, I’ll invite you out for coffee rather than beers. Or, if I know you are trying to build a business, I can make referrals to help you succeed.
- Declared goals help you feel a sense of progress and purpose. If I commit to reading a book a week, every time I finish a book, I feel a sense accomplishment. These positive feelings reinforce my commitment to keep going.
- Once goals and intentions are written out, they can be shared with others. The simple act of sharing your goals creates a psychological commitment to those goals fueled by our irrational feelings of peer pressure. When I think others are expecting me to do something, I experience a heightened sense of pressure to follow through. While this is often a negative force in our teenage years, declaring our goals to others allows us to harness this power for good.
Don’t get wrapped up in style or structure of your goals. The key is that you are clear three things:
- What is your intention?
- Why does it matter to you?
- How will you know you’ve succeeded?
How you write those down isn’t important, it’s just the act of doing it that matters most.
Let’s not make resolutions in 2017. We are better than that.
Let’s actually make this stuff happen. Let me know how I can help.