Okay, by a show of hands, how many of us have already blown one or more of our New Year’s resolutions? Come on – don’t be shy. My hand is up too. What is it that compels us to swear by the names of such folk heroes as Johnnie Walker, Sam Adams or Jack Daniel, to do something grand and life changing? More importantly, why do we allow those plans crash to the floor so easily?
Some would declare, perhaps a tad self-righteously, that it is just an arbitrary date and that resolutions are just as valid at any time. They are right, but it is that kind of killjoy behaviour that can really kill the party.
An interesting theory is that this long-standing tradition is timed to coincide with the New Moon being in Capricorn. Apparently, this is a time highly suited to making inner, personal changes. If astrology is not your thing, this theory won’t float your boat.
Then there is the hybrid of these two camps. This group would say that the New Year is symbolic. Like freshly fallen snow, it is pure, unspoiled, and not yet christened by the neighbour’s dog.
Regardless of how we got there, a huge percentage of us make titanic resolutions that get crushed by the glacial harshness of day-to-day living. The sources I’ve read seem to agree that only one in five of us will actually keep them. Frankly, that’s a pretty crappy average. So what goes wrong?
The biggest problem, so the experts say, is that our resolutions are too vague. Saying “I resolve to be nicer,” sounds okay, but what does that actually look like? How will I know if I’m succeeding? There’s no measurable outcome and no real definition of the goal. From a project management perspective, it’s a big boat heading for a nasty chunk of ice.
Not far behind being vague is being ridiculously optimistic. Pie-in-the-sky dreams with no thought given to the steps to make them happen are ships that sink in dry-dock. I can resolve to earn a million dollars in the year ahead but without a plan of action, I probably won’t.
So how do we make resolutions we can keep? One thought is to “aim low,” so that it is nearly impossible to fail. Yeah, that’s not a very good option, but it would improve the chances of success.
A better option is to really think about what it is that you want to do in the coming year. Start with a realistic outcome, and work out how to make it happen. Success won’t come from the big things as often as it will come from persevering – putting one foot in front of the other.
Celebrate the little successes. It is easy to expect perfection in an instant, and then flog ourselves when we trip over our own humanity. That makes about as much sense as deciding to go to the store, and then quitting in a self-deprecating huff when we aren’t there in our first step out the front door.
I remember being told, “happy is the one who dreams dreams and is willing to pay the price to make them a reality.” Have an amazing 2012 everyone! Dream big! Then do the work to make those dreams happen.