Resolutions, a promise a person makes to themselves and commits to pursuing throughout the next year. It would appear this is a tradition that most people share around the time of New Year’s. However, the statics show that only 40% of Americans make a resolution at New Year’s and just 8% of that keeps the resolution (Forbes, 2013). Isn’t it amazing that something only 40% of the people do creates such a large stir or, rather, gets that much attention by the other 60%!
I have never been successful with any resolution I had set for myself. I fall into the 32% of people who have made one and failed. I have had many lectures, if you will, and readings on setting goals and completing them. I have also heard talks about commitments and seeing them through. Yet, with all this knowledge a resolution is never successful.
Over the past few days I have thought about resolutions and why they fail for so many people. Simply stated a resolution is a goal. The goal we set is for ourselves. We expect that we can reach this goal. We are making a promise, or commitment, to ourselves that we will reach this goal. Yet, so many fail. This is because we do not look at it as it truly is, a goal.
A goal possesses three things a set time frame, measurable, and specific. When a goal is set without these three characteristics, there exists no way to determine if the goal was reached. This can cause a sense of failure, frustration, despair, and result is quitting. Leaving the goal behind and to be set again, later, with no editing, the same goal that will have the same results.
When the resolution, or goal, is left behind we have just quit our commitment to finished, or broken our promise to ourselves. Someone once said, at a conference I attended, that it seems so odd that it is always easiest to break promises to ourselves. That statement has always stuck with me because I agree with the irony. We can find it difficult to break promises to others, but to ourselves, we almost break promises every day. Why do we do this to ourselves? Because there is no outside accountability? There is minimal consequences? No one is counting on us?
Its funny when you look at the reasons why we break promises to ourselves. No outside accountability? True, but there is accountability to yourself. You have subconsciously let yourself down and have shown yourself that you lack accountability. We cannot teach ourselves that we have no accountability. And the next question; consequences are minimal. That all really depends. If you’re breaking your promise to lose weight, the consequences could be detrimental to your health. That is certainly a significant consequence. Lastly, no one is counting on us. This goes back to accountability. If we cannot count on ourselves, who can we count on? We should be able to trust ourselves and trust our own word. By breaking our promises to ourselves we are saying we have no accountability, the consequences are insignificant, and we cannot be counted on. This is not a message you want to send to yourself.
After thinking about this I have come to these simple conclusions; resolutions are goals, therefore, they must possess the 3 characteristics of a goal. To be successful you must make the commitment with sincerity, that is, not break the promise to yourself. Then, when you see the fruits of your labor, you can celebrate knowing you are a success! Another bonus is whatever the resolution was may now be a habit!
One time I was very successful. For Lent I gave up soda. I was in college and that was the drink of choice, with or without liquor. But I really wanted to do this. I looked at it more as a resolution that giving up something for a short period of time. For over a year I quit drinking soda, and even now, 19 years later, I do not have soda in my home. I purchase it only when I have people over. I do sometimes treat myself if I eat out. Even then, the cost at a restaurant often keeps me from ordering soda.
So, if you should get out to make a resolution, remember it is a goa. Do not say you want to lose weight. You must identify the number of pounds you want to lose and within a time frame. Thus, you should say I want to lose 50lbs by September 1st of 2017. Or, I want to be healthier. Better said, walk 2 miles every day until December 2017. How about I will be nicer? More specific, I will compliment a person once a day for 3 months.
This may seem simple and ineffective, but give it a try. Identify a goal you have been failing at attaining. Create a goal statement. Commit to that statement. Make it your mantra and say it every morning. Then, when the time frame is complete, take note. Were you successful? If not, what were your obstacles? Did you attain a part of the goal? Identify the obstacles and how far you got to your goal, then set another goal. Don’t quit. Keep revising and resetting and you will get there. Just do not give up. You have to keep that promise to yourself!