Hello and Happy New Year
This blog was originally written in December 2019 and was edited in December 2021
In 2 days time millions and millions of people around our world are going to be making are starting New Year’s Resolutions. In 35 days time, research says that more than 80% of the resolutions will be broken, many before week 3.
Having thought about this a lot over the last few years, and especially leading up to the end of December, I’ve come to two conclusions:
Firstly, and here’s a newsflash, we don’t actually have to make New Year’s Resolutions, goals or anything remotely like them. We don’t actually have to decide or be motivated to make any new or different changes, improvements or achievements. We can just be content to be who we are, where we are. Or, and this is especially true after ‘The Covid Years’ of 2020 and 2021, just living, surviving and being is for many a massive achievement in itself. It’s okay to not want to make changes or to want to settle in to life a bit more.
It’s okay to say no to these big announcements of change and enlightenment! In fact, doing that can be a change and form of enlightenment in itself!
However, IF we do WANT to make changes in our lives (as opposed to the misguided notion that we have to), why does it have to be January 1st? Can it not be any time of the year, when it is right for us? I think it can be, and, in fact, when we do choose a time that is right for us, we actually have a higher chance of success anyway.
Because New Year’s Resolutions suck! And they suck because they are are often ineffective in their very nature, due to us either feeling forced in to making them so we are not genuinely invested, or by the nature of how we make them, which we will explore in a minute. However, despite that, we all (or most of us) make them anyway.
In November 2015, after my doctor told me I wouldn’t see the end of the next 10 years if I didn’t make some changes, I had a choice; I could choose to carry on as I was, or I could choose to save my life. I CHOSE to change, I CHOSE to start looking after all aspects of myself, including losing 9 stone and looking after my mental health (and I wrote a blog about why and how that happened in Blog #6) .
However, it wasn’t an immediate thing, despite the severity of consequence for not changing (ie death, or at least, serious illness!) Six years on I still wonder why I waited a further 6 weeks to start that journey, and the only answer I can come up with is that it’s what we humans do…..we like to live it up at Christmas and then change in January!
I’d done this time and time again over the previous 100 years (!) and, whilst I absolutely meant each and every word of my resolutions each and every time, I failed each and every time too. I didn’t mean to fail, I just gave up, or forgot, or, let’s be honest, it was too hard and I wasn’t invested enough.
And this leads me on to my second conclusion; I’ve believe that when we do make resolutions, most of us tend to go all in, making grandiose announcements about our big intentions. We put little thought in to it beyond WHAT the resolution is. We forget about the WHO, HOW, WHEN and WHERES that are intrinsically involved in change. We maybe do the goal but we forget to do the planning, so, often, the action is stilted (or at least maintained action).
There is an old adage that says, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. Preparation and planning are a huge part of making changes. And I believe they are the key differences between a resolution and a goal.
This is something I call the ‘Life Windmill’ We discuss this a lot in my free face book group The Rising Oak – for Wellness & Wellbeing (come join us by clicking on the link)
One way of working out what our WHAT is, is to look at each fan on the windmill and score it out of 10 for satisfaction (10 being highly satisfied, 0 being considerably unsatisfied). When you’ve finished, choose one of the low scoring fans and think of ways you can increase your score in that area. That is your WHAT.
And now you need to look beyond the WHAT. You need to plan your action so that you achieve the outcome you want.
Whereas before I just made a statement (I am going to lose weight. I am going to work less. I am going to do x, y and z) this time, in addition to pinpointing the WHAT, I also planned HOW I was going to lose weight, work less stressfully, take care of myself and get healthier. I looked at WHEN I could go to a class, exercise, plan meals, shop and take me time away from work. I looked at WHO I wanted and needed support from, and I asked them for it. And I decided WHERE I needed to go and be to look after myself.
Planning and preparation turn a resolution, which is essentially just a statement of intent, in to a goal. Yes, we still have to action the goals but with a HOW, WHEN, WHO and WHERE attached to the WHAT, the likelihood for action, motivation and investment in the change is significantly increased. And this was certainly the case for me, and continues to be so.
Most of us I imagine have heard of SMART goals and here’s a reminder.
SMART is a great way to make sure we also address the HOW, WHO, WHERE and WHENs in our goals. If we do this, we have a better chance of achieving the results we want, the changes we resolve to make.
We can also break our goals and tasks down in to small, bite sized chunks, and achieve little bits at a time. When we take on too much, it becomes too much and we are likely to become overwhelmed and demotivated. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having immediate, short and long term goals within the bigger goal. It is also absolutely okay to take breaks, to settle in to one change before embarking on another.
So, you decide:
Decide to just be and be content with who, where and how you are. Acknowledge and accept that you are making that conscious choice. Choose not to set goals and know that it’s very much okay to do that, and sometimes absolutely necessary that you do.
But, if you do CHOOSE to make some goals, do it in a useful and healthy way. Have a go at doing these exercises over the next couple of days. See what happens and make a conscious effort to prepare and plan.
And if you need any help or guidance whilst you do any of this, give me a call, text or Whatsapp message on 07523830377, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Also, check out the rest of this website and other blogs at www.acornacademycoaching.com
Take care one and all, and here’s to a happy, healthy, prosperous and fun in 2022.