I have not once in my life kept a New Year’s resolution. And yet, here I am once again thinking about all I want to accomplish and feeling demoralized. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? How can I be successful this year? Does anyone ever succeed at sticking to a resolution? Help!
New Year’s Loser
Dear New Year’s Loser,
I am glad you asked this question because I have an explicit opinion on this topic. There is a lot of research on New Year’s resolutions. You can Google it—but for all intents and purposes no one really sticks to New Year’s resolutions. Okay, maybe 8 percent of people do, but my guess is that’s even a stretch. The whole thing is a nasty set up to ensure we all start the year feeling terrible about ourselves.
I say, let’s cut it out. No goals in 2017. None.
NO GOALS for 2017.
Wait. What? “That’s crazy!” you argue. “I have to set goals or I will never achieve anything and I will wake up in three years sitting in this exact chair with this exact life.” Not true. Life has a way of carrying you along and will provide plenty of occasions for you to rise to. And you will rise to these occasions by committing to becoming more effective, nicer, better organized, or by learning something new.
Life will provide you with many reasons to change. You will lose weight or go to the gym when you get sick of not fitting into any of your clothes or when your doctor says you have to. You will quit that terrible habit (smoking, running late, watching “Real Housewives” shows) when you are so compelled that you will get help from any possible corner—your family, your friends, a support group, a clinic, or all of the above.
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that we always choose the things that are hardest to do—the stuff we have already failed at, often several times. So now we are actually conditioned to fail at those things.
The only way to change that mindset and break the pattern is to set New Year’s resolutions that are fun and easy. Seriously. Some of my most successful resolutions have been exactly that. For example:
- Never stand in a line if I can help it
- Drink good champagne any time I get the chance
- Spend a minimum of five minutes a day rolling around on the floor with my dogs
You will set a goal to do something new, different, and difficult when you are good and ready to do it and not a moment sooner. In the meantime, find something fun and easy to commit to in 2017. Easy means, well, not hard. Effortless. Something that is literally so easy and pleasant that you will actually do it. And only one thing. I mean, you have enough going on.
Try it. Win at your New Year’s Resolution this time. And do it again next year. Do it every year. You won’t believe how this can add up to a life filled with joy, amusement and pleasure. And really, what more could we ask for?
Happy New Year and Love,
About the author
Madeleine Homan-Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.
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