I have long believed that New Year’s resolutions are some of the stupidest acts to undertake. Let me explain. True, I am a skeptic. But, they are simply recipes for failure. You don’t have to believe me, just look at yourself, people around you, family and friends. How many follow through and how often do they succeed with resolutions?
- These resolutions are an excuse not to begin what it is you want to do. Who in the world came up with the idea that every habit in your life could magically change on the 1st? The fact is that if you want to do something there is no magic in starting on January 1st, March 1st, June 13th, Sunday, Tuesday, Labor Day your birthday or the Summer Solstice! If you resolve to do something – resolve to do it today.
These resolutions are a form of procrastination. It puts off what we purportedly communicate to others what we want to do. Why can’t it (whatever “it” is) begin today – now? Too often we plan. We set target dates to launch. We research and design the perfect workouts (or whatever). We take time to “get our heads into it”. Why not just get out and start. You can plan, as you get involved. By starting today you could even think of it as getting a running start (pun intended) on your New Year’s resolution to get in shape or run that marathon.
- Resolutions form a foundation for something to talk about. More is talked about than acted upon regarding resolutions.
Stop talking and start doing. That is the key. Nothing great is accomplished writing resolutions on a stickie that is on your car dashboard, bathroom mirror or refrigerator. People enjoy sharing tales of their resolutions – trials, tribulations, barriers, hardships of all kinds that become excuses. While others quietly go out and do. Change your talk from resolutions you’ve made to process goals for today.
- These resolutions are a set up for failure. On a good day under optimal conditions most people perform below par (I’ll save a discussion on “performing below par” for another time.) Now add the pressure of friends, family and others watching your every move – waiting to “catch” you. Stress does not help us perform at our best. It doesn’t help us succeed.
Though it is true that performance may improve for some people with some stress or pressure to perform – it is also true that more is not better. In fact the higher the stress or pressure, the more likely there is a drop off in performance. That includes compliance to some resolution. Do you like someone always asking if you are still working out? Asking if your diet is still working? Do you enjoy being nagged?
Also the social pressure of knowing that others know your resolution can for a minority of people act as a motivating source. But this is a minority. This is a weak motivator overall for most people. And it tends to lose its power over time. It is a short term motivator and that social pressure usually turns into a negative effect on performing.
One personal “coaching” service I know wants all their clients to publicly proclaim some goal. Tell it on the mountains. And it must be something monumental otherwise it is not worth doing. The failure rate of their clients is amazing. [The only thing being accomplished is lining their own pockets with money because they do not understand human behavior or motivational psychology.] Public proclamations do not enhance your chances of success… they add stress and worse yet, failures are more dramatic and psychologically damaging as a result.
Why wait? Set mini-goals – process goals – not resolutions. A process goal is a piece of the larger goal (i.e. running a marathon or your first 5k). A process goal might be getting out and running 4 miles or run-walk 2 miles – today. Or, it might be doing that long run you’ve already put off – today. It could be getting to the track to do that long overdue speed work – today. Or doing your physical therapy exercises – today – to be strong enough to handle the miles. Instead of resolutions – commit to taking some kind of action on a goal today. And once you set a goal, your journey begins immediately… not on the 1st.
So, this year resolve instead not to make New Year’s resolutions. Instead – rid yourself of THAT excuse and take action today – December 30th!
While you’re at it pick up a copy of my excuse busting book for you or a friend – “Coach I didn’t run because…” It’s a lighthearted look at excuses and excuse busting.