“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” – Mary Pickford
(I blogged about this topic on a previous blog I had, so this is a modified version of how I feel these days.)
I don’t really like the start of a new year.
I used to look forward to it a lot because I love goal setting and making new plans for myself. But now, I can NEVER remember to change the year on anything that I’m dating. Sometimes numbers just look wrong to me. I remember when I was younger, I refused to date anything as “/00″ because I hated the way zeros looked. So I kept dating things “/99″ until about June of 2000, until one of my teachers told me to stop. Even then I told her I hated even numbers and refused for a while. I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled I am for 2033 to make it’s way to my pen.
As I said, I love goal setting and am (usually) determined to get my goals done. But January 1 has never really been a big deal to me when it comes to resolutions. Here’s why:
Most people fail their New Years Resolutions. Thanks to this “Why New Years Resolutions Fail” article, we know why:
- Resolutions are a form of “cultural procrastination”, and people make them to motivate themselves. But in reality, people aren’t ready to change their bad habits. I’m pretty sure if someone REALLY wanted to stop smoking, they wouldn’t wait until January 1 to do so.
- Most people’s resolutions are unrealistic because they involve exceedingly high expectations of themselves so they’re doomed to fail. For example, quit smoking cold turkey after 20 years of being a smoker, go to the gym every single morning at 6am even though you’re a night owl, etc.
- Also mentioned is a “cause and effect relationship” that contributes to MOST failed resolutions, especially those fairly extravagant ones: “You may think that if you lose weight, or reduce your debts, or exercise more, your entire life will change, and when it doesn’t, you may get discouraged and then you revert back to old behaviors.”
- Resolutions are approached from the wrong way. Neurologically speaking, making resolutions work involves changing behaviours. In order to do that, you have to change your thinking, which essentially requires you to “rewire” your brain and the way it thinks. ‘Habitual behaviour is formed by thinking patterns that create neural pathways and memories. These pathways and memories become the default basis for your behaviour when you’re faced with a choice or decision. Trying to change this default thinking by “not trying to do it,” (such as, not smoking, or not eating as much) in effect just strengthens it. Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking.’
There’s the clincher: Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking.
Here’s what I do instead:
- I don’t wait until a New Year to set goals. I set them whenever I want. Sometimes I try to time it for a Monday, other times it’s just the next morning. If I wait until a new month or a new year to start something, my excitement will dissipate! As a real-life example, I decided to start daily devotions on Monday, December 8th, 2014. I would have been so anxious to wait until Jan 1!
- I start with one goal at a time. Going to bed early, waking up early, eating well and doing devotions in the morning would put my body into some form of manic distress.
- I start small. Instead of one hour of devotions every day, I start with 15-20 minutes. Instead of running for 10km, I run for 5km. I build.
- I focus on the positive. i.e., I change my thought pattern. I don’t focus on the negative (yes, I missed a couple of days already), but rather on how much I’ve already accomplished. I have to create a new pathway in my brain to change a habit and negativity doesn’t help (see above).
- If I fail, I fail. It’s not the end of the world, and I won’t beat myself up just because a habit didn’t change. I’ll just try again another day when I’m ready to make a change.
Happy New Year to you all!