Did you set New Year’s resolutions? How’s that going for you? According to research, approximately 50% of the population makes resolutions each New Year, yet most resolutions seem to fail (here is why). Among the top resolutions are weight loss, exercise, stopping smoking, better money management, and debt reduction.
If you feel like you’re one of those who’ve failed to keep up with your resolutions this year, don’t despair. What you might perceive as being weak, negligent or irresponsible may simply be a case of not knowing how to set yourself up to succeed.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is if you were truly ready to change? Did I set a resolution toward something I was ready, willing and able to transform come January 1? Most of us resolve to tackle things we’ve put off. A new year seems like a great time to address such objectives. However, Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Canada’s Carleton University, says people may not be ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, just because a new year begins. He claims this accounts for some of the high failure rates. Before blaming yourself or your resolution, consider first if the timing was completely off.
When we make resolutions, we are essentially trying to change a pattern of behavior that may have calcified into a habit. If we are going to change a habit, we must direct our actions toward changing neural pathways and related behaviors. Otherwise, we’re fooling ourselves into believing the resolution will be realized. Typically, how the scenario plays out is we make a commitment once a year, then hit it as hard as we can until we burn out. This pattern has resolution failure written all over it.
So, how do we sustain change and find success each New Year?
How about trading in New Year’s resolutions for setting a theme for your year? Since the year 2000, I (and my clients) have been doing just that, and it’s working quite smartly. One of the reasons for our success can be found in the actual synonyms for the word “theme”: subject, topic, subject matter, thesis, argument, thrust, message, thread, keynote, motif.
Following a thread, making a consistent thrust, keeping a particular subject in the front of your mind for 52 weeks in a row can make a huge difference in one’s life. And that’s exactly what happens when you follow a theme setting ritual 52 times a year. In fact, I’ve gotten so good at this theme setting stuff that, 17 years later, I have habits and rituals in place to sustain three theme components a year.
While January is a significant time to craft and launch a theme, it isn’t the only time. No better time than the present! If something in this blog rings true, pick it up and run with it!