New Year Resolutions – Friend or Foe? Here are 7 ways to make (and keep) them
2020 – wow.
Another decade is upon us. Where the hell did the last one disappear to?
And have we learnt much from it?
Have we grown as a person?
Have we improved our lives?
Have we honoured the multitude of New Year Resolutions we set ourselves?
Did we even make any?!?
Why do we go through this ritual every single year
(or not as the case may be!)?
Well, it’s noted that the Babylonians are the ones we can thank for this particular ritual – oh let’s say about 4,000 years ago (righto!) although to be fair to them they didn’t hold them on 1st January. Theirs was in mid-March when the crops were planted. No, the 1st January ritual we can thank the emperor, Mr Julius Caesar, for that and for what we now see as the New Year Resolution.*
Statistically, as many as 45% of Americans say they make New Year resolutions yet only 8% stick to them. For British people, it’s 25% and then about a quarter of them will stick to them. New Zealanders, over 50% make them, yet only a fifth stick to them. And Australians? Well, a whopping 80% make them and approximately 40% of them will stick to theirs.
But why? Why do we still look to make them (and often break them)?
Often it’s just pure habit. Sometimes it’s a dream wish with no substance behind it. We even make such resolutions knowing we’re not going to keep them; almost with an element of sadism attached to it. However, if we are not careful, subconsciously we are harming ourselves more and more each time we ‘set ourselves up for a fall’. It eats away at our psyche and before long we actually start to believe we are no good at sticking to ‘anything’ and further berate ourselves by emphasising the ‘fact’: I never got to the size 8 I wanted to (and the fact I was a size 18 is irrelevant... really??!)
And then we get the minority who actually manage to attain their resolution and see it through. Their determination didn’t falter. They were super focused on the winning goal.
So what about the rest of us? Those who have every intention but fear that it will all just fall apart by the end of January – if we get that far?
We've made it just about us
Well, historically these resolutions used to be more about a situation or something for the greater good of the community rather than ourselves, such as a desire for a healthy crop or returning things to neighbours that have been borrowed for longer than intended. Now resolutions are about ourselves only so the pressure is there from the get-go; lose weight, be healthier, be stronger, do more, do less, do anything!
7 ways to be successful at making - and keeping - resolutions
Here are some options to ponder. Pick the one that is going to ‘sit’ with you most and remember it whenever you go to make (or restart) your New Year’s resolution:
It doesn’t matter that the 1st of January has passed. You can decide to create a new resolution on any of the 365 days that is in the year – just start.
You don’t even need to call it a “New Year’s Resolution”. Call it whatever you want – who cares?
Think of what it is you want to achieve and break it right down to tiny little pieces that almost seem silly and of little worth. Believe me, it’s these little things that will all add up to you attaining the end goal that you are looking for.
Pick 12 mini-goals if you don’t like the look of one ‘big’ goal.
Create options that have an element of a fun factor to them. The less of a ‘chore’ it feels, the more likely you are to try and stick to it.
Choose your words wisely. For example, instead of saying “I’m going to cut out fast food”, say “I’m choosing to eat a healthy dinner at least 5 nights a week”. A similar end result, it’s just the second one sounds less horrible, more attainable and allows for you being ‘human’ aka 2 nights a week you could still have fast food – should you really want to.
Look to do something that isn’t immediately going to affect only you. Take the pressure off yourself. Volunteer. Seek to be nicer to others. Offer to help a neighbour. Such things do help you but are more indirect because you feel you are only giving to others. The feeling of this single act is very powerful.
So – to New Year’s Resolute or not to New Year’s Resolute? – that is the question!
Does it really matter so long as you are honouring something that will make you feel better at the end of the day?
Call it what you like, do what you like, offer what you like, but please remember:
You are a human first, then you are perfect in every other way!
If you are struggling, or frustrated, with yourself over not keeping intentions, then why don't you get in touch with me directly and see if a couple of coaching sessions helps you set the right intentions in the first place? It could make all the difference...
*Please note, there is a plethora of information in between those two particular points noted and so the comment made is purely to keep it within the confines of basic conversation. Check the Bibliography for further insight.
Cropper, E. (2019, January 6). New Year's Resolutions: How Many are Actually Achieved? Retrieved from Newshub: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/lifestyle/2019/01/new-year-s-resolutions-how-many-are-actually-achieved.html
Ibbetson, C. (2019, December 31). Quarter of Brits Will Make a New Year's Resolution. Retrieved from YouGov: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2019/12/31/quarter-brits-will-make-new-years-resolution
"Almost 40% of APAC" (2017, February 16). Almost 40% of APAC Respondents Have Already Broken Their New Year's Resolutions in February. Retrieved from YouGov AU: https://au.yougov.com/news/2017/02/16/almost-40-apac-respondents-have-already-broken-the/
Pruitt, S. (2018, August 31). The History of New Year's Resolutions. Retrieved from History.com: https://www.history.com/news/the-history-of-new-years-resolutions
van Buitenen, J., Schmidt, J. D., Ronan, C. A., Wiesenberg, E., Lin, C., Ziadeh, N. A., et al. (2019, December 16). Calendar Chronology. Retrieved from Encyclopaedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/science/calendar
© YMR Coaching & Development
Yvonne has qualifications in Coaching, Positive Psychology, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and believes in continual personal development. She is currently based in the UK and also has life and work experience in Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. She helps with mindset wellbeing and change which includes significant relocations. She is contactable for client availability, public speaking events and media enquiries here: https://www.ymrcoaching.com/helpful-links