The year is coming to an end, and as with every season, The New Year’s season comes with a set of fixed behaviours.
Setting New Year Resolutions.
It’s a fixed thing, where people take the time off to reflect how they have fared for the year. It’s also the period where they take time off to plan for the future, set some goals to become a better version of themselves.
With all goals and resolutions set and done, they march into the new year with determination, confidence and a renewed sense of hope. Of the billions that set resolutions, only about 8% (according to University of Scranton) stick to their resolutions for the entire year. For some, setting resolutions only to see them fall apart, has become a habit.
In this article, I’m going to share my views on why the majority of the population have difficulty sticking to resolutions that they set yearly.
1) It’s not part of my Identity
Every resolution that you set, be it to exercise more, eat less fatty food, meditate daily, requires dedication. It is one thing to desire to be fitter, smarter, stronger, faster etc but it’s another to be totally committed to becoming that person you set yourself out to be. Essentially, you have to be able to see the “future” you doing your resolutions as part of your “identity”. If you set a resolution to become a health conscious person who hits the gym 3 times a week, you have to mentally establish that as part of your identity. Your friends, relatives, work colleagues – everyone who knows you well enough – should be able to describe you as a person who’s very health conscious. If you set a goal to become buff and you share that with your best friends and they laugh at your face, then it’s clear that your identity with fitness has NOT been established.
So, in other words, there should be a match in your inner world ( how you perceive yourself ) as well as your outer world ( how others perceive you)
If your goal is to run 3 times a week, your identity will be “I’m a runner”
If your goal is to run marathons, your identity will be that of a Marathon enthusiast
If your goal is to be a better public speaker, your identity will that of a person who attends social groups like “Toastmasters” religiously.
If your goal is to meditate more, your identity will be that of a person who’s more calm and centered and in control of his emotions.
If your goal is to be a life coach, your identity will that of a person who’s always giving out that positive vibe to everyone around him, making them feel better and helping them with their problems.
If your goal is to spend more time with family, your identity will be that of a person who is very strict about prioritising family time over work, social gatherings etc.
In short, your behaviours should describe your identity. If you have been running every now and then to lose weight but you would never describe yourself as a runner, then it becomes clear that what you’re doing (action) and what you see yourself as (your identity) are poles apart. No wonder you don’t see the results. The actions you take should be something that you see your future self as doing.
If your best friends aren’t able to describe you in this manner, then you know that you have to show more commitment and dedication to build the identity you require. Which brings me to the next point.
2) It should not change my lifestyle.
When people set resolutions, they are focused only on the results. What they do not realise is that the goals they set require them to have a lifestyle change. It’s easy to set the following goals.
E.g. I want to get GOLD for my fitness test this year or I want to attain a weight of ‘xx’Kg this year by March or July.
E.g. I want to earn $XX dollars next year
E.g. I want to have a blog with 10,000 followers by end of this year.
E.g. I want to score A’s in all my subjects this year.
But it’s a totally different thing to incorporate the actions that these goals require into your lifestyle. If your current lifestyle doesn’t change with the goal that you set, then your goal will remain just that, a goal. To see lasting change, you need to know what are the small steps that you need to take in your life consistently that will enable you to stick to the resolution.
While it’s admirable to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals, they do not provide you with a lifestyle change. And that traps you into a rut.
E.g. If you want to achieve GOLD for your fitness test, your resolution should be to do the necessary workout every week/3 times a week. Incorporating this into your lifestyle and the results will follow in due time.
E.g. If you want to earn $XX dollars in the new year, come up with a financial plan that will allow you to get there and incorporate that into your lifestyle on a regular basis and the results will follow in due time.
E.g. If you want to have 10,000 followers on your blog, incorporate blogging and marketing your blog into your lifestyle on a regular basis and the results will follow in due time.
E.g. If you want to achieve A’s for all your subjects, plan out how you will have to study on a regular basis to achieve those results and the results will follow in due time.
Usually, if the small things that you have to do regularly become a hassle, and you find yourself doing the work begrudgingly, then it’s a sign that you may not be fully ready and committed to change your lifestyle, and this goal may not be something you’re deeply passionate about.
3) I have a “Results Mindset”
The problem with the results mindset is that
a) If you fail to achieve the result, you become demoralised and it lowers your self esteem. You tend to match your failure with your identity. This then forms into a belief “resolutions don’t work with me” that you carry around and the cycle repeats.
b) You are not pushing your limits. Even if you do succeed, you stall your progress by being content with your achievement. And you start again when another need occurs and the pattern repeats. In other words, your efforts do not produce exponential results over time. And then this becomes your identity.
The person who sets the same type of resolution every year.
If you had been consistent with your efforts, you could have had the entire pie, but you chose to go for the slice. I have heard of countless friends who ‘workout’ when they need to attain a beach party or need to fit into an awesome dress that requires them to lose a few inches off their waist for any occasion. They go into the crazy frenzy of achieving this goal in the shortest time possible and feel good momentarily, but as soon as the occasion is over, old habits kick in and they slump back into their old selves. These people find it hard to make a goal/resolution stick because it’s not what they want in the long run. Just a temporary goal.
c) You blur the line over what you truly want, and what society expects of you. Society has its way of imposing standards on everyone, and it’s always based on your performance. Results. That’s what they want to see. Period. And in the process of wanting to prove yourself to society by producing results, you successfully enter the rat race. And once you’re in the rat race, it’s not just about you becoming a better version of yourself. It becomes more of whom you’re better than and how you place amongst your competition rather than how you have grown as a person. With that kind of attitude fixed in your mindset, it becomes challenging to see things in the long term, when results have become the sole priority. It also becomes depressing when you realise that there will always be someone better than you out there. #Fact
When on the other hand, if you do make it a point to “upgrade” your identity, and incorporate changes to your lifestyle that reflects who you are growing into become a better person, you will make lasting change and impression upon yourself and the people around you. When you solely focus on nurturing yourself, you develop all parts of you, and with that, you develop a brand that’s unique to you. Even if there may be many out there who may be better than you, you will have found out that something unique about yourself that makes you different from the rest, and that, will make you stand out. When you find yourself worrying too much over the results, tell yourself that the results will follow when you keep up the small changes.
So as the new year approaches and you are looking to set your resolutions, ask yourself these 3 simple questions.
1) What new identity do I want to establish in this new year?
2) What lifestyle changes am I willing to make this new year?
3) How do I prevent myself from becoming results-oriented (with regards to this new resolution/goal)?