I want to preface this by saying that I am very much in favor of goal setting and making plans to improve your life. I also believe that, for a myriad of reasons, the end of the year is a fantastic time to set some priorities for the following twelve months.
That said, I believe that, for the vast majority of the population, New Year’s Resolutions are fundamentally flawed. Here are my top three reasons why:
- We set our goals based entirely on what we dislike about ourselves and our lifestyles. The vast majority of resolutions are focused on fixing something we dislike about ourselves. It’s hard to stay motivated when we’re focused on the problem, rather than the ideal outcome.
- We set our goals in a vacuum. Over the holidays, between glasses of Eggnog, we “commit” to radically changing our lives come January 1. We seem to forget that few of us are walking around with an extra 2 hours a day to be going to the gym and sleeping that full 8 hours. As human beings, we’re pretty good at using the time we have. So we’re full. If we want to add two hours of something, we need to consciously understand that we’re going to have to drop 2 hours of something else.
- We try to change overnight. If you’ve been to the gym 6 times in your life, there’s very little chance that your body’s going to be happy with going every morning at 5am. same thing goes for diet, saving money, donating time to a local charity, etc. Incremental, 1 % gains. That’s the way to lasting change.
Over the past 3 years I’ve been building and refining a document that I use as a guide in my own New Years Resolutions. Keep in mind this is only my document, and I’ve truthfully never tested it with other people. But it works for me (and has worked with increasing effectiveness every year for the past three years.) If you want it, you can download a copy here. (free, of course) The holidays are a fantastic time for Reflection, Dreaming and Planning, and I encourage you to find some time to do all three. If the structure I’ve provided helps with that, so much the better.
Enjoy the holidays!