90% of people never realize their yearly resolutions.
Almost all those who set New Year Resolutions attempt new practices, or behavior changes for a few weeks before they fall back into their old habits. Sounds familiar?
Have you fallen into the same trap yourself?
It’s ok. You are human, and as such the human brain requires time and consistency in order to accomplish change.
After all, what are New Year Resolutions?
What are they about?
They are about doing something different.They are about wanting a different outcome. Whether in life, friendship, work, partner, spouse, health, etc. It is always about changing something in order to get a better outcome.
Whether you’re planning to leave your dead-end job, speak up more in meetings or finally get started on the side projects you've been putting off, there's one indisputable truth that’s impossible to ignore: change is hard.
Here are some of top reasons why New Year Resolutions fail:
- The list is full of tasks that you need to do. These fail to keep consistency because they lack the WHY. The ultimate outcome that you gain when you have completed these tasks.
- They are SMART goals without any true commitment to them. While these are Specific Measurable Achievable and Results oriented with a specified Timeframe. If the passion that drives you to stay with these doesn’t lead to a better life, then why do them at all.
- Often they are not even SMART goals. They are just a wish list. Wishing to be better doesn’t magically materialize in a better you. “I am going to work out so I can loose 10 pounds.” Why? For what purpose? What’s going to happen when you achieve this?
- Some are just wrong. Written in a negative way. “I don’t want …” While this is a motivation to get started, if there isn’t an end goal, then it’s like getting in the car and just driving. No map. No plan. No destination.
- Your conscious mind is fighting your unconscious beliefs. Yes. Probably the biggest one which I should have put as No1. You assign yourself some tasks that your unconscious brain knows you won’t stick to, and doesn’t even believe you want these.
The problem with New Year Resolutions is that they are full of “What” and not enough “Who”. They are loaded with what you want to do, or what you want to acquire, and lack who you need to become. If you as a person never change, then what chance do you have to do these new things. What chance to you have at being able to stick with these new behaviors.
The challenge is that change requires doing something different. Something different means it is something new.
Because it is new, it is also - unknown. You are therefore not proficient at this new task, and it likely makes you uncomfortable. This discomfort is the hurdle. It’s not only that this is new and unknown, it‘s also uncomfortable because of being new and unexplored territory.
Example: It’s more comfortable to sit and watch TV, than to go to the gym and exercise. Going to the gym means, changing clothes, removing my comfortable home sweats and putting on gym gear. Driving down, and working out in a room of strangers. And I know it’s going to hurt the first few times. Result: Maybe I’ll go tomorrow.
These are New Year Resolutions that are based on “What” I am going to do, rather than “Who” I need to become.
You see it’s the behavior that will get you what you want. The same behavior you've always practiced will get you what you always got. A new behavior will get something new. But behavior cannot happen if the thinking that created these behaviors does not first change.
In essence Thinking -> leads to -> Behavior -> which leads to -> Results.
And, New Thinking -> leads to -> New Behavior -> which leads to -> New Results.
If that’s true, which psychology and neuroscience would argue that in fact it is, then all we have to do is to first change the thinking. Sounds easy. Right? Almost! There are factors which will sabotage the Conscious efforts to think differently, these are our Unconscious programs.
What do I mean by program? A program is something which you do as a matter of fact, and routine. These are programs which your brain believes are important for your survival, or important because they have served you well in the past. You could say that your brain has a mind of its own.
If you try to put your hand in a fire, your brain will fight you and potentially stop you.
The same with New Year Resolutions. If your brain believes that your bad habits have served you well so far, then making a resolution to stop doing that will likely be sabotaged by your unconscious mind.
What your brain believes to be true needs to be understood and challenged. We often refer to these as our Values and Beliefs. Since you are what your brain believes you to be, then it’s your brain that has these Values and Beliefs.
For example: Most common New Year Resolution - “To lose weight”, or better phrased “Get my weight to my desired goal”. Evening comes around, and boy “It would be nice to have a glass of wine and chips”. Brain says “A few chips won’t hurt. In fact we love that with a glass of wine”. Sabotaging your conscious commitment to lose weight.
This is a “WHAT” resolution.
Here is What a “WHO” resolution would look like instead: “I need to learn better self-control”, or “I truly believe that being thin is healthy and more enjoyable”.
You see, changing the belief will cause you to do whatever it takes to get you the desired outcome. When you truly believe that being thin is amazing, then you will do the tasks to get you there. When you learn better self-control you can take on any task and achieve anything you put in your task list or bucket list.
So stop filling your New Year Resolution with “WHAT” stuff, and work on your “WHO” stuff.
Who do you need to be?
Your brain’s Values and Beliefs -> drive -> your Behaviors
Your Behaviors are the Actions you take that get you your Results in life.
Have an amazing New Year.
May this year be the year you’ve always wished for.
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