Watching the ball drop in Times Square, New York City, is a New Year’s Eve tradition around the country. The countdown from 10 to 1, glitter and confetti, corks popping, noisemakers squealing, kissing and hugging, shivering, people around the world celebrating, crowds cheering… The scenes and excitement are so spectacular, it’s hard to believe this isn’t a movie. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Or is it? Once the clock says 12:01, the partying may continue, but the purpose of the evening has been fulfilled, and people leave with mixed emotions.
The next day, out come all the famous New Year’s Resolutions (and perhaps the hangover), whether made in jest or with true mindfulness. “Here we go again,” we say to ourselves, with a measure of resolve and determination but also fear, unsure of what the year really will bring.
While goal-setting is admirable and often desirable, the truth is, not all resolutions are in your best interest. Some of them are just versions of “you should,” self-shaming statements that can prevent you from realizing your true potential, optimism, and inner contentment. Let’s rethink some of the most common losing resolutions and replace them with new rituals—reasonable, smart, and completely doable practices that will uplevel your daily life now, and help you realize your goals in the long term!
Resolution 1: “I need to diet to lose ___ pounds from my stomach and hips right now.”
Like many of us, Cathy put getting healthy at the top of her goals, and that included losing some extra weight. But—again, like so many of us—she had let healthful habits and routines slide from Thanksgiving to January. All the drinks, parties, desk candy, kids’ cookies, you name it—these things were part of the holiday season, and at this point a part of her body, too.
The “extreme results now” resolution is what happens when panic sets in. Cathy declared that she would rejoin that gym, start the crash diet, stop smoking (cold turkey), and stop the excess drinking—all at once, and all today. And she thought, Those clothes had better fit—because I won’t buy the next size, no matter what!
Resolution 2: “I have to make $______in 2018 or I’m a failure.”
Every December, Laura crunches the numbers multiple times to see how she did financially for the year. When she comes out ahead, she celebrates. But if not, she feels defeated, frustrated, angry—or worse, panicked that she hadn’t made as much as, or more than, she was hoping to. Darn.
This year, Laura resolved to redeem herself by working harder, spending even more hours than the overtime that she’d already been working lately. And, she firmly decided to put an end to spending anything on fun and downtime, even the yoga class that gave her exercise and peace of mind. Now, it was time to turn up the heat and get to work, no matter what!
Resolution 3: “I have to meet my soul mate or I’ll be unfulfilled.”
Alone again this year, Rhonda thought. How often she had dreamed of meeting “the one” and having the connection she’d been longing for. Now, another year had gone by, and she was feeling as if her goal had been pushed even farther out of reach because this year she was another year older.
How long would she have to wait? Was she destined to live her life alone? All her friends and family seemed to be in relationships. Even though those relationships might be far from ideal, having someone was way better than not having anyone. Rhonda was even thinking of settling for someone who was “just okay” in her yearning to feel complete.
Cathy, Laura, and Rhonda each made different resolutions, but all were disappointed for the same reason: Their resolutions were too extreme to be reachable. Any goal that demands absolute success based on a single immediate result is untenable.
Whether your intention is related to wellness, money, relationships, or any other area in your life, the most sustainable changes will actually happen over the long term. Progress must be measured in small stages, not with a single “all or nothing” yardstick.
Throw out the extreme resolutions (yes, throw them out!)—as they set you up for failure. Give yourself a chance by planning small, realistic, attainable goals with sustainable intentions that can last all through 2018—and beyond.
Let’s look at the same three women’s examples through a more practical lens. Here’s what the new, improved versions of their goals might be:
Cathy’s weight-loss resolve:
Instead of her impossible “get thin right now” goal, what would happen if Cathy gave herself a 90-day timetable? She’d have a real chance of success because a 90-day timeframe allows room to track results as well as identify and apply any needed course corrections. Cathy would do well to remember that “lose weight” is not a single actionable step. Finding and recognizing her own victories in small, affirming choices moment to moment—like showing up for the morning workout, or bypassing the office donut box—is critical because those small steps are what will take her closer to reaching her ultimate goal.
Laura’s workaholic promise:
Deprivation doesn’t serve anyone in the long term. If Laura sticks to her original resolution, she’ll remove her only outlet for resolving stress and having fun—her yoga class—and that’s a sure path toward greater pressure and deteriorating mental and physical health. Rather than denying herself fun, Laura should look at activities she enjoys as prizes: “I put in a solid workday, and now I deserve to reward myself.” The surprise bonus could well be the financial success Laura desires. Research shows that people who take excellent care of their health actually tend to be better earners.
Rhonda’s quest for couplehood:
Rhonda’s “I have to find a mate” sounds desperate and even a little threatening, doesn’t it? That’s probably what her past potential partners have seen, too, which has no doubt compounded her loneliness. But what if Rhonda were to shift her aim from that imaginary “someone” and instead focus inward? What Rhonda really needs is to rediscover her own interests, talents, fulfillment, and happiness—and along the way, that might put her among other like-minded singles who shares those ideals. Get out there and claim your adventure, Rhonda!
Need some help defining your goals in a way that won’t set you up for failure? Ready to begin a new year filled with success, wellness, love, happiness, and the kind of confidence that radiates outwardly—no matter what? Then I invite you to click here for my FREE gift to you of a 20-minute telephone session for the new year. I’ll be bringing 20 years’ experience, sharp intuition, and cutting-edge research that make the difference so that 2018 is YOUR year to shine.