New Year, New You? Why resolutions don't work and what actually does.
Today, I want to dive into New Year's resolutions. Every new year in the wellness world there is an influx of people heading to the gym, yoga studio, purchasing diet books, signing up for diet programs, ect. Putting themselves into various restricted states of being only to find themselves back where they started a few months later. According to research, 60% of people make resolutions with about 8% of them actually being successful in meeting their resolutions.
What is the purpose of setting Resolutions if we aren't fully committed to resolving them?
I think there are many reasons and explanations for this. Most simply, behavior change is hard, and the New Year brings with it a sense of external motivation to start making change. It's great for that initial boost in motivation but it lacks what is truly needed to build the INTERNAL motivation that research shows is needed to make lasting behavior change. A 2016 meta-analysis by Wooley and Fishback showed that in order to stick to longer term resolutions one must be able to reap short term rewards as they progress towards meeting their resolution. Resolutions tend to be long-term reward focused.
Secondly, I think many of the goals we set for ourselves have a negative tone to them. For example, the goal of "I want to lose 20 lbs". To me, that implies a lot of hard work, a restrictive diet, exercise and also reminds me of all the times I've lost weight only to gain it back. It feels hard, challenging, and complicated. How does that goal feel to you?
The type of goal setting typically seen with making "Resolutions" contains this same feeling of negativity to me. There is a specific end goal, something to resolve, something that has to be forced into change. But life happens, our perspectives shifts, we grow and evolve, we come up against challenges, get out of our routine. There are many reasons why our resolutions begin to fall apart. They fall apart and then we land back where we started and into a place of feeling guilty for not meeting our resolutions. I'll try again next year I guess...
Now what if we change it to the feeling we really want to have after losing those 20lbs. For example, "I want to feel energetic and vibrant". Doesn't that feel so much better? If I now focus on activities that make me feel energetic and vibrant I am going to have a much more positive outlook and less of a hard "end goal". It will be easier to feel the small steps along the way as I reap the rewards of my energy and vibrancy increasing from making healthier choices.
For the new year, instead of setting Resolutions, I'd like to challenge you to make Intentions.
Intentions around how you really want to show up and feel in your life. When we set intentions we allow room for growth and evolution. Throughout the year life happens, we grow and we change, we go through periods of ease and periods of difficulty. This is part of the cyclical nature of our beings, and creating intentions allow us to honor the cyclical nature of both our inner and outer worlds. Once we have set our intentions we can then set up goals to help us reach those intentions. This brings us back to the importance of short term rewards as mentioned above. Our goals should be set so that they can be achieved in a timely manner. We can do this by creating short term goals in order to reap the rewards, or if we fail an opportunity to reflect on and learn from why we were not able to meet our goal. And from this place of learning, we can adjust and create new goals that are still in line with our intentions. Or perhaps we realize that we learned something along the way and our intentions and goals need to change. The beauty in intentions is that we can shift and change them, as we shift and change throughout the year.
In summary, if you are searching for a New You this New Year follow these simple steps:
Set Intentions vs. Resolutions
Create intentions and goals that convey a feeling of positivity
Create short terms goals, in line with your intentions, in order to reap short term rewards
Use you failures as learning lessons and growth vs. opportunities for feeling guilty
I've just shared some precious pearls of wisdom with you! It is my hope that you can enter this winter season and new year with intentions on how you want to be and show up in your life. If you feel like you need support in setting your intentions and goals I'd love to chat! You can book a free 20 minute call with me here or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What would you rather have? Growth and evolution or resolutions that never go anywhere?
All the best in 2020 loves!