By Ismail Abdur-Rahman, CEO iVIBES
OK, so here we are, a week deep into 2019….and at least half of the people I know have already bailed on their New Year’s resolutions. Big surprise, right? Actually, this is par for the course for most people. The reality is that the whole idea of making New Year’s resolutions more or less guarantees you’ll fail.
As human beings, we are largely creatures of habit, and most people have incredible difficulty with change. Perhaps it’s because change necessarily requires at least a temporary departure from your comfort zone, or maybe it’s because making change often requires real effort, but whatever the case, the majority of people who are not where they want to be in their lives, whether personally or professionally, are unable to muster the discipline and focus necessary to move forward on their own, hence the reliance on New Year’s resolutions.
Additionally, using an arbitrary calendar date to begin making changes is counter-intuitive and doesn’t lend itself towards the type of commitment you really need to achieve your goals. Let’s face it, motivation ebbs and flows according to any number of factors that are out of your control.
Personally, I maintain that making these resolutions are a bad idea, and, in fact, can have detrimental psychological effects for the people who make them and fail to live up to their own expectations. Take for instance a guy who says on January 1, “This year I’m going to join the gym and go beast mode and have a 6 pack by summer.” When you see him in December, he’s got the same cookie gut he had in January, and the gym is still charging his credit card $19.99 per month even though he hasn’t stepped foot in the place since February. Fail! While there might be any number of underlying psycho-emotional reasons for this failure, a very basic reason might be that sudden, major changes that represent a significant departure from one’s habit are almost always destined to fail.
Using themes is a better idea for making changes that can be managed successfully for the long haul. For example, if you were to make wellness one of your themes for the next year, this wouldn’t require a major overhaul of your lifestyle overnight. Making small, sustainable changes like making better food choices or moving (exercising) daily will keep you on track with your theme and ensure that you’re making steady progress towards larger goals. You know what they say - slow and steady wins the race. Something that is equally important is the psychological impact of knowing that doing even small things will help you make continuous steps toward your goal, and this can help you sustain motivation for the long haul.
Choosing a theme
The easiest way to choose a theme is to identify your biggest pain points. For many people, these pains are related to the lifestyle choices that can ultimately have a negative impact on self-esteem. Be sure to make the theme general enough to encompass all of the lifestyle activities that are related to the problem you want to solve. So, if you want to improve your career prospects, plan to begin reading books related to your career. Register for short courses or attend workshops that can help you upskill and position yourself for better career progression. As you progress through a series of courses, you’ll not only gain more confidence, but you’ll also position yourself for better career development while gaining the satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve achieved a goal that was meaningful to you.
Make it happen
I know it’s easy to get caught up in the New Year’s hype, but don’t drink the Kool Aid. The reality is that if you don’t want to find yourself in the same position a year from now, you have to do something different to get a different result.
Using themes or guiding principles that reflect your personal values and pinpoint your growth objectives is a great way to get out of a rut and make real progress towards fulfilling your potential and living your best life. Pick a theme and do at least one thing daily that reflects that theme and log your progress. When you track your activities based upon your theme, you’ll also be able to measure your progress towards a better you. And in 2020, when you look back at where you started from in 2019, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve actually accomplished something significant this year. So, go ahead. Pick a theme. Plan daily, weekly, and monthly activities around it. And make the rest of your life, the best of your life.