How to reboot your 2017 Resolutions
Whether it’s peer pressure or a genuine desire to achieve something big, 62 percent of us use the start of the New Year as the starting point for making a change in our lives. Most of us resolving to lose weight, exercise more, spend less and save more and stop smoking. Sadly, 20 percent of us will have given up by about now, and only 8 percent will go on to be successful in achieving our resolutions.
Before we explore why this happens – and how you can be part of the successful minority, let’s look at the history of this time-honoured ritual. Contrary to popular belief, a New Year’s resolution is not an invention of modern pop culture. The first recorded instances go back 4,000 years ago when the Babylonians made promises to their gods in order to gain their favour during the turn of year celebrations.
Later on, Julius Caesar established the tradition of making resolutions by establishing January 1st as the beginning of the New Year circa 46 BCE. He named the first month of the year after Janus, a two-faced god who had the ability to look backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future. The Romans offered sacrifices to the deity and made promises of good conduct for the coming year.
In modern days, resolutions demonstrate the belief in our ability to achieve more of what we want. So if we want to change for the better, why only such a small percentage of us achieve these goals?
The most common approach for setting a New Year’s resolution is to look back at the year gone and concentrate on all the things we have not done: not exercising, not eating healthy, not saving enough. So what we really do is that we get all our inspiration for the coming year from all the things we failed to do. But focusing on failure is never a great motivator.
So what is the alternative?
There are many different explanations and excuses on why New Year’s resolutions fail and how to make them work. Some suggest that you should set realistic expectations and not dream too big, as you are more likely to fail. I personally think that you only fail when you stop trying and dreaming big is one of the only reasons we have today achieved things that a few years back might have seem impossible.
My preferred way of making a resolution is quite different to what popular reading suggests but maybe this year you can resolve to try something different and give this approach a go instead.
If when you set your resolutions a few weeks ago, you only looked at the past and saw only the things you did not manage to do or the things you did badly, then that might have account for the struggles you now face sticking to your pledges. Now is a good time to review the last few months and focus instead on the things you have achieved; what is it that has worked for you, what did you do well, where were you on January 1st and where are you now?
When you are focusing on the things you have achieved, you are in a creative mind set. So when you start thinking about the coming year, you are more likely to focus on your growth, what do you want to achieve more.
The secret here is to phrase your resolution on a positive other than a negative tone. So instead of saying: “In 2017 I want to get out of debt” you will instead say “In 2017 I want to be able to save x amount every month”.
And if you really want to enhance the results of this exercise, use visualisation to picture yourself the way you want to be this year. This is how to do it:
- Using breathing exercises and take a few moments to relax.
- Now try and picture yourself as you would like to be this. Picture your life, career, relationships and experiences. Do not forget to visualise your free time as well (provided that you want to have some).
- Make sure you are clear and specific on what you visualise. Focus on what you want instead of what you do not want.
- Use your senses to enhance the reality of the picture you’re visualising: picture your whole day in detail; hear the conversations; see the people around you; feel the sensations. Deploy all your sense to help you visualise and experience the new you. Focus on how the new you feels.
- Remember that for the subconscious mind everything happens in the present, so experience the visualisation as if it is happening now.
Repeat this exercise as often as you can. And most crucially, don’t give up. Your initial resolutions might have gone the way of January, but you can change any time you want. And right now is as good a time as any to do it.
Sophia Fromell is an executive coach specialising in career coaching, corporate management and change management. See sophiafromell.com for more information.