What’s your New Year’s Resolution?
This week you will most likely be asked this question (if you haven’t already). It’s part of an annual tradition where we reflect on the year that has passed and look for ways to improve ourselves in the next year. It’s common knowledge that the majority of New Year’s Resolutions fail, but we often don’t realize how bad the results truly are as 92% of New Year’s Resolutions fail.
When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, there are three types of people:
- Type A: Make them and succeed
- Type B: Make them and fail
- Type C: Don’t make them
Which do you think is best?
Type A seems like the obvious choice. However, I believe that Type C is actually on top of the hierarchy.
Ok, hear me out.
New Year’s Resolutions are inherently flawed.
When I see information that breaks down why resolutions fail, I notice it always tends to focus on the goals themselves. Now don’t get me wrong — this is hugely important. Making Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-driven (aka “SMART”) goals will drastically increase your chances of achieving them. But it fails to address the major inherent flaw in the New Year’s Resolution concept…
By definition, the primary motivation behind a New Year’s Resolution is an arbitrary point on the calendar. That is not a strong driving force. Having a time for evaluation and reflection is very important in order to assess what you want out of life and whether you’re on the right path. The problem is thinking this is a once a year ritual. This should be an ongoing process.
Waiting until the New Year works against you.
If you have identified something that would greatly improve the quality of your life, waiting until the New Year makes no sense. It reminds me of a laughable quote from Johnny Manziel. The Heisman Trophy winner turned colossal draft bust told TMZ in June that he was going completely sober… well, starting July 1st. Of course, he said this while partying his face off with 20 other people at a mansion in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
It’s funny but that’s how many people approach New Year’s Resolutions. Instead of July 1st, it’s January 1st. I’m going on that diet I’ve been talking about… right after I eat my face out during the holidays. I’m going to be financially responsible… right after I’m financially irresponsible. I’m going to drink less… right after I get totally hammered at that New Year’s party. Then January 1st comes and guess what we don’t feel… motivated. Did I say I was starting January 1st? I meant January 2nd.
You are what you tolerate.
In his book Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins, a master of creating transformational breakthroughs, states that you are what you tolerate. Even if you know you should save money, drink less, lose weight, or exercise more, getting and maintaining where you want to be will be very difficult if you tolerate where you currently are.
A New Year’s Resolution tends to be made days, weeks, or even months in advance. After identifying an area of improvement, you immediately tell yourself you can tolerate not doing it for all those days, weeks, or months until January 1st. You’re telling yourself there’s this huge thing in your life that needs to change… but not right now. You have trained yourself to not act on the initial impulse, or surge of motivation. Most likely the following impulses will be weaker.
How are you all of a sudden going to flip the switch?
For me personally, I know anything that I should do… forever stays something that I should do. It’s easy to push things off into the future. I’ll do this tomorrow. And when tomorrow becomes today… it’s ok I’ll do it tomorrow. Then the perpetual loop continues. Nothing will ever be done in the future. It will always be done in the now. It’s not until I finally say I have to do this that it actually gets done.
In order to create lasting change, Robbins says we must raise our standard. Anything less has to become something we will no longer tolerate. By turning our “shoulds” into “musts,” we can overcome the obstacles we encounter on the path to our goal. Now that is a strong motivating force.
Speed of implementation is critical to success.
A habit of highly successful people is that they immediately apply good ideas. No procrastination. There is a direct correlation between the speed with which an idea is implemented and its level of success. The longer the implementation is delayed… the more likely the idea is to dissipate.
“Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” -Nolan Bushnell
Although making New Year’s Resolutions isn’t necessarily bad, it’s also not best for you. Going back to the original question, there is a subset of Type C people who do not make New Year’s Resolutions at all because they immediately apply valuable ideas. These people are on top of the pyramid beating out the Type A group.
Perhaps the real goal for 2017 is to become one of these people. But we still have 2 days left in 2016… so why wait?