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“One week into the New Year and almost everyone I know has broken their resolutions.”
In fact, one friend said “yes” to my offering of ice cream cake on Jan. 2nd and exclaimed, “Oh well, it lasted one day anyway!” Apparently her resolution was to eat healthier. Even though her cheat was a slip-up, did she recommit to her promise again on Jan. 3rd?
When it comes to resolutions we tend to judge a moment of weakness as failure, even worse, complete failure. We then resign ourselves to the fact that our goal is out of reach, and now have carte blanche to resume our bad habit for yet another year. Unhealthy eating, cigarette smoking, and skipped gym days become the norm and we’re back to square one, promising ourselves once again, “Next year…”
According to Periander, a tyrant from 7th century B.C. Greece, “Practice is everything. This is often misquoted as practice makes perfect.” (www.brainyquotes.com). It’s time to stop being so hard on yourself for not being perfect. The last time I hit perfect was…uh, wait, and let me think. Oh, that’s right, it was never. I’m prepared to out myself as well as everyone else I know as never being perfect.
“Life is a rehearsal, not a string of one night plays where we have to get it right the first and only time we perform.”
When we screw up, simply do it over again (and over again, and over again). We’re essentially rewriting our own script, learning how to re-think, re-say and re-do learned behavior. The more you rehearse new thoughts and actions, the sooner your brain will automatically focus on new thoughts and actions. I think that’s the key to a resolution; first decide, and then start doing – both clearly action verbs, implying an ongoing effort.
I recently took a very unscientific poll of friends, family and co-workers, and virtually all of them indicated they weren’t making a resolution this year. Why? Because every year they fail them, and instead of feeling successful or empowered, they once again feel letdown. Forbes magazine indicates of the American population:
- 40% make a New Year’s Resolution
- 8% achieve them
That spurred me to conduct extensive research on “How to Keep Resolutions” (OK, I Googled about 10 sites), and I thought I’d share a few keys things that resonated with me:
- Take a moment to reflect. Do so without blame or judgment, and then jot down notes about what you want to do in the coming year.
- Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Don’t beat yourself up about things you can’t do; empower yourself with what you want to do. Make a resolution to inspire you toward a change, not berate you in a moment of weakness.
- Describe the ripple effect – the difference you’re making by fulfilling your resolution. Motivate yourself with the idea that what you’re doing affects other parts of your life. Quitting smoking allows you to become more physical with less effort. When you become more physical you get in shape. And imagine: getting in shape wasn’t even the primary resolution.
- Tell the story. Walk yourself through the result of quitting smoking; you smell fresher, you cough less, you have more money/time, you’ll live longer. Determine where you feel the “click,” as you walk through the list, then stop right there and make that your story.
- Focus on the NOW. What can you do right NOW instead of smoking? Send a thank you note? Finish an assignment? Have a few extra minutes to listen as your kids shared what they did today It’s a series of NOW moments, and the resolution is fulfilled when we have achieved a significant mass of these NOW moments!
- Acknowledge your progress and do do-overs. At the end of the day take stock of how you did. Celebrate a great day or recognize if it wasn’t one of your best days. Either way, it was only one day in the evolution of your resolution. Remember, it’s the slow gradual changes that are lasting.
Face it; most of us fail many times before we achieve success.
I can’t help but think of the athletes soon to compete in the upcoming Olympics. How many hours, days, and years even, did these competitors prepare for this one moment? Everything rests on that one moment in the spotlight where the whole world is watching. And then I’m darn glad no one saw me sneak that extra piece of ice cream cake seven days into my New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier. I at least get the do-over.