Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this year?
The celebrations around New Year’s Eve can often be seen as some kind of ‘new beginning’ and perhaps a time to start doing things differently. The ‘New’ in New Year itself conjures up the notion of a clean sheet, a time when old mistakes can be set aside and we can all make a fresh start. This then prompts people into making ‘New Year’s Resolutions.’
This is not a new concept; at the start of each year the Babylonians would promise their gods that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts and the Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus. Medieval knights would take the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. It has now become more a feature of western cultures, and the modern day practice of resolutions is thought to have come out of a Christian practice of making sacrifices for lent. These days most people make a commitment to self-improvement, and this is why it is of interest to me as a coach.
Whatever your resolution, there are people out there who want you to fail!
It is a popular notion that you are more likely to succeed with achieving a goal if you share it with your friends and family and ask them to help and support you through the, often difficult, process. The problem here is that friends and family members won’t necessarily be honest with you because they are worried they may cause tension that could potentially damage their relationship with you. And it is often the case that people who know you don’t believe that you can make life changes because they don’t have the resolve to do it themselves. In some situations they can even subconsciously want to see you fail because it makes them feel better/more comfortable about their own shortcomings (especially if they had a similar resolution that they have already failed to keep.) So if you have a little wobble in your resolve they will often delight in telling you that you have failed, which can make it really easy for you to lose focus and give up.
In fact, research carried out since 1933 shows that people who talk about their intentions are less likely to make them happen. Apparently, once you’ve told people of your intentions, it gives you a “premature sense of completeness” and subconsciously you think you’ve achieved it.
Friends and family are not the only ones who do not have a vested interest in your success; a popular resolution is to stop smoking, and that is why the tobacco industry allegedly spends half its annual advertising budget in February. The theory is that if you have stuck it out for 4 or 5 weeks, then you will really be craving a cigarette by February! So if that is your resolution, there are powerful forces actively working against you.
Various organisations have researched how many people manage to keep up with their resolutions, and the results show that after a week three quarters of people are still sticking with it, after a month it is down to two thirds and after 6 months less than half of those who made New Year’s Resolutions are still maintaining them. So it’s not a very reliable way to make changes in your life!
So, to go back to my original question, did you make any resolutions this year? If you did, what was your motivation?
Did you make a resolution because it was ‘the thing to do’ and you felt like you ought to, or was it a change that you want to make in your life that you haven’t had much success with and New Year seemed like an appropriate time to recommit to it?
If it was the first case, do you feel like it wasn’t a real resolution and therefore you don’t need to commit to it? Interestingly, in that kind of situation the subconscious mind will often pluck something special from the recesses at the back, something that you have perhaps been deliberately suppressing or just not given form to. So have a good look at it, and be honest with yourself, was it actually a change that you really should be making?
Whatever your motivation, now that February is upon us, it’s cold and it’s raining (at the time of writing!) how is it going?
Unlike those people out there who may want to see you fail I want to see you succeed. I am ready to listen to what you want to achieve without judging you. I can offer you support and empathy and help you to be honest about progress. And I can help you to identify your successes, however minor, and build on them. I will not consider those occasional wobbles as failures, but as minor setbacks and opportunities to strengthen your resolve.
So if you your New Year Resolution could do with re-energising, give me a call or send me an email and we can discuss some options for succeeding in making those changes happen more quickly.
Remember, your mission is to make changes to your life, my mission is to help you to succeed!
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