I’m creating this post to invite you to my New Years Resolution Workshop, on December 31st at Noon CST.
The workshop is a free, virtual gathering (held on Zoom) where we will work through a special writing exercise designed to make our goals for next year really stick. You’ll also have an opportunity to share your goals and vision for 2022 and connect with the group. You can register by clicking here.
Why Resolutions (Usually) Fail
Let’s start by saying this: the fact that people often fail to accomplish their New Years Resolutions isn’t a surprise. In this case failure is the rule, rather than the exception. It’s sad, but people often fail to change their habits even when their life depends on it.
However, I don’t think the real reason people fail is laziness, procrastination, or lack of discipline. Even people who are high performers have difficulty changing their habits.
I think the biggest reason people don’t follow through on their New Years Resolutions is simply because they haven’t looked at their competing commitments. Your competing commitments are the beliefs and thoughts that keep you locked into your current set of habits, and make you “immune” to change. (This is all explained brilliantly in a book called Immunity to Change, Keegan and Lahey – which I highly recommend)
Once you have created a goal or resolution, you must then ask yourself: what competing values and ideas do you have that are out of alignment with this new goal? If you don’t take this next step, your resolution might sound nice, but there’s not much meat to it.
Until you make your competing commitments fully conscious and resolve them, until you understand how your existing beliefs are actively anchoring you where you are – it can be very challenging to make any progress towards the change you want to see.
Make a Resolution That Sticks
So, how do we make a resolution that sticks? The key to a powerful New Years Resolution is create goals that are in alignment with our deepest values, and then to find some way to address the competing commitments that will block our progress. I’ve created a five step guide you can follow here, and we’ll be walking through it together during the New Years Resolution Workshop! If you like this exercise, I hope you’ll join us on NYE.
Step 1 – Establish Your Purpose and Values
When you have a clearly-defined purpose, even if it’s subject to change later, you can use it to orient yourself when you’re forced to make really tough calls. Try to write a purpose statement for the next year of your life that captures what is most meaningful to you, what it means to be alive, what you want to accomplish with your limited time. Companies write their purpose statements before doing business to ensure alignment – and how much more valuable is your life? Is your life worth more than the life of a company?
Example: I want to live the next year of my life in a way that is healthy and balanced, keeping my own health and fitness needs as a priority as a go about the rest of my life. I want to feel good in my body, and feel good about what I see when I look in the mirror.
Step 2 – Write Down Your Most Important Goal/Resolution
Choose a goal or resolution that is aligned with your purpose and value statement. Make a goal for yourself that is clearly defined and measurable. What you’re trying to do is take any guesswork out of the equation, you want to make a goal specific and measurable so that eventually you can look back and say with complete confidence that you either reached the goal or you didn’t. Setting a goal that is unclear or unmeasurable can leave you wondering, “Did I really accomplish what I set out to do?” So, instead of leaving yourself hanging like that, set a goal that is easy to measure and easy to decide if you did in fact accomplish.
Example: By the end of February 2022, I want to have a daily fitness routine of 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. The fitness routine should include a 50/50 mix of cardio and strength training. (Specific and easily measurable)
Step 3 – List Contradictory Behaviors/Actions
In the language of Immunity to Change, this step involves taking a “fearless Inventory” of things we do that are contradictory to our stated goal. This might take a little bit of digging, but we’re just trying to identify some things we are currently doing that are not serving our goal or things that are actually actively preventing us from reaching it.
Example: Some behaviors that have, up til now, prevented me from establishing a daily exercise routine – procrastinating exercise until late in the day when I am too tired, making excuses for why today is not a good day to exercise, choosing to work more when I know I should exercise.
Step 4 – Identify Competing Commitments
Competing commitments are also a little tricky to identify, but it’s also where the real magic of this process starts to happen. Remember, identifying competing commitments and resolving them is the key to making resolutions that really stick, so be thorough here. One way to find competing commitments is to look at the list of contradictory behaviors we created in Step 3, and try to understand what motivations or reasoning might underlie these behaviors. What are the real reasons that we continue to act in a way that is not in our best interest?
Example: I am afraid people will see me differently if I suddenly start exercising, and I don’t want to rock the boat. I have tried diet and exercise before and failed, I don’t want to risk failing again and looking like a fool. I am so out of shape, that if I start now I might injure myself.
Step 5 – Integrate Goal/Resolution with Your Competing Commitments
Now that you’ve uncovered some competing commitments, you can begin to integrate your new insight with your original resolution or goal from Step 2. This is more of an intuitive process that can take a variety of forms, but you absolutely have to find a way around your competing commitments and the hindrance they represent. One way to go about this is to deeply question your competing commitments, read them and think about them with a skeptical mind. Imagine you are a lawyer looking for loopholes, or imagine you’re a therapist hearing these words for the first time, and with a completely fresh perspective. Become fully conscious of how these commitments are in fact holding you back, preventing you from making the change you so desperately want and need. Imagine what it would be like for you, if you were to let go of one or more of these competing commitments. What would your new life be like if you were free of these old thoughts and beliefs? Remember, if you don’t allow yourself to question you competing commitments, you will stay anchored where you are, and you’ll remain immune to change.
Example: So what, if people see my differently for working out? Is other people’s view of me important to my feeling good in my own body? No.
Surely somewhere, there is an exercise program for people who are out of shape… if I follow one of these programs carefully, what are the odds I’ll seriously injure myself? Wouldn’t it be more risky to my health to continue not exercising? Yes.
Maybe I can join a gym that no one that I know is a member, and I can exercise without anyone seeing me. I can tell people about this change on my terms, when I am ready.
|The questions from this exercises are designed to get your mind running in a particular way, to help you get unstuck and back on track to accomplish whatever goal is most important to you. Try it on your own, and once you get the hang of it, you can repeat the process with all your New Years Resolutions!|
If you are inspired to join us on the afternoon of NYE to share your resolutions and work through the exercise together – I will be excited to see you! Registration is free, but RSVP is required so that I can send you the Zoom link. If you’d like to register, you can click here to put your name on the list!
See you soon!