We’re a few weeks away from the new year and a whole new set of goals and aspirations intended to catapult us toward new heights. For most of us, the same resolutions will once again reappear in the slim hopes that maybe this year they’ll finally be conquered before once again succumbing to their inevitable fate. Pessimists? Meh, realist.
So why do we get so hyped, so motivated, so ready to take on the challenge of tackling the things that hold us back and plague us most only to fall back into our regular routine and put our resolutions on the back burner?
If this year you want to stick to your resolutions then you need to recognize why you fail and learn how to prevent it.
There are two predominant factors that make us destined to fail. Two. Conquer those and you’re ready to fly, baby!
The Comforts of Routine
We’re creatures of habit. I mean there’s nothing more comforting than the traditions we carry with us all our lives. That thing you do only on special occasions; the familiar smell of mom’s cooking, or the snug jacket we wear Sunday mornings while watching old marathons.
Traditions are like habits. Habits are like patterns. They’re predictable, safe and they take no thought. Patterns are so comforting that they’re passed down from generation to generation. We tend to make the same choices as our parents in search of recognizable traditions from our childhood without ever questions why we make those choices. They just feel right. Habits become instilled in us, like broken objects from our past that we just can’t throw away.
They should make a nicotine patch for habits. They are as addictive and as soothing as a puff of smoke filling your lungs with zen. When you understand the psychological relief behind habits, you understand our tendency to seek them out and our aversive response to change.
Our bodies fight change. This is why we are destined to fail the new and repeat the past.
The Inflated Importance of Motivation
“I’m just not motivated”
Have you ever said this? This sentence has no truth behind it. I hate to be the one to break this to you but the accurate statement is “ I’m just not disciplined”. But mental blocks cushion our self esteem by making us less accountable and transferring blame on some transcendental inner fire or drive that’s waning.
Self Discipline is what it takes to complete your goals. It’s what kicks in when the motivation is gone.
When you realize that the word motivation is being totally overused to describe self discipline, you can address your lack of it directly.
Combatting Inevitable Failure
We seemed destined to fail. To repeat history. It’s not impossible to defeat failure but it takes a conscientious effort to break out of it. In order to defeat failure this year, you will have to step out of your comfort zone and practice discipline.
Your goals should be realistic. If your new year’s resolution is to become an olympic gold medalist in skiing, then you should at least be an above average skier and not purchasing your first set of skis. Your long term goal can always be to win the Olympics but you need to set up micro goals to achieve the big one.
Settle on 2
Choose no more than 2 goals. We’r all in a hurry to better our lives. But change doesn’t happen overnight, it only looks like it does. But for us, it’s month by month, day by day, hour by hour, little by little. One goal at a time. If your goal is to change your life this year, your list will range from eating better, join a gym, take a class, start a business, save money. All of these have their own set of habits that you have been battling. And all of these take a level of discipline that you have to learn to practice. You won’t change a thing if you are trying to change everything.
Instead, choose 2 and know that each milestone or resolution you achieve will lead you down the path to conquer the next one.
It is much easier to start a business if you’ve disciplined yourself to take a course.
It is much easier to eat better if you’ve joined a gym and committed to going daily.
Write them down
Writing your goals and resolutions snatches them from thin air and makes them tangible. Using visual cues to remind yourself of the new path you’ve chosen is an effective way to stay on track.
I keep post it notes on my bathroom mirror that remind me every morning to stay focused on my end goal. It’s too easy to forget and fallback into the comfort of routine. Make your goals specific by listing micro-goals. Reaching milestones will keep you disciplined and motivated to continue.
Have an action plan
Having a clear plan written out describing how you intend on reaching your resolution will increase your chances of achieving them. If your goal is to quit smoking, having a step by step list and a checklist of how you will stop will guide you along your way:
Goal: Quit Smoking in 6 months
Step 1: Get nicotine patch
Step 2: cut down 50% (micro-goal: 3 weeks)
Step 3: cut down another 50% (micro-goal: 3 weeks)
Step 4: Join a support group
Breaking out of our comfort zone and being disciplines are the two traits that breed success. If it were easy, everyone would do it and this article would be about how to train cats to pee in toilets.
What are some of the tricks you use to keep your goals?