Whilst New Year’s Resolutions might work for some people and catapult you enthusiastically into the new year.
Many of us find ourselves falling at the first hurdle and, by a few days or weeks into the month, goals have shifted or been abandoned totally.
Of course, some of you reading this may find that New Year’s resolutions work as an effective way to inspire change. That’s fab, and I am not totally poo-pooing them (After all I am a coach and effective goal setting is something I love to witness people achieving)
However, if, you find maintaining new year’s resolutions difficult, read and reflect below on some of the common reasons personal objectives are harder for some people to achieve. If one (or more) stand out for you, these could be useful in the future planning of your goals. Whether you draw more time in understanding and exploring these to yourself or seek help from a professional help you to do so.
Here are just a few common reasons why you might find yourself floundering to commit to new year’s goals (and one of the reasons why working with a coach to help you “fine-tune” and resolve these can be immensely helpful).
Lack of preparation and planning – Any change in behaviour or habit requires some planning and preparation. But many people over-look the important aspects of this. From allocating time in your schedule for the new habit, to having the right equipment to do it or working on old “beliefs” that might hinder your success.
Goals too big or too small- Complimenting your planning phase; establishing if your habit is “realistic” for you, is essential. If the resolution is too hard, inconvenient, or just too far-fetched it’s likely to become unattractive or difficult to maintain. Similarly (and surprisingly for some) if the goal is too small – easy or insignificant in terms of meaning and value. Again, it’s unlikely to be something that holds your dedication. If it’s not creating that dopamine hit, of reward-response for your brain, you probably won’t invest in it long-term. So, chunk the actions into smaller steps or adjust your goals value, to make it an attractive thing to do.
Limiting beliefs – Integral to any change is working on our un/sub-conscious beliefs, those inner narratives that support us or disinhibit us in our goals. These are informed by our life experiences and how we see ourselves in the world. Belief-change can be one of the trickiest parts of habit forming and goal setting. I recommend identifying and exploring these when preparing for goals or resolutions. Limiting beliefs could include “I don’t deserve it” or “I won’t manage it” or “I really like Netflix more than running outside after work”
Forgetting to model success and failure -In the coaching world we loooove to “model” behaviours. This is the process of learning from what works and what doesn’t in a situation, behaviour, or goal. Drawing from individual experiences and the knowledge, skills and learning of others too – often termed a “best practice approach”. Using failure and success as useful feedback to enhance performance. This also requires a bit of repetition, rehearsal, and reflection. Often, when it comes to new years resolutions we falter and then give up. Instead of receiving this as useful learning to enhance our future progress and have another go.
Fear of Failure or Fear of Success - Complimenting the consideration of limiting beliefs; the two most common issues I find clients facing in their goal setting is an embarrassment towards failure which leads to avoidance or giving up. Or, alternatively, a deeper (often sub-conscious) belief that success will result in unwanted outcomes, like perhaps the discomfort of maintenance if you do succeed, or a belief you will have to extend your goal once you have benchmarked, or a discomfort with being in the limelight of “doing well.” Both issues often lead to self-sabotaging behaviours, which disrupt progress.
Lack of resources or knowledge – linked with planning and preparation. This is stuff like, not having the right equipment, like a decent pair of trainers that don’t rub you. Another example might be a lack of knowledge of how-best to over- come your flying phobia so you can apply for your dream promotion over-seas. At a deeper layer, this can also relate to personal development. Many over-look the value of self-development and understanding how “You-do-You” and the best route to achieving your goals around your skills, beliefs and learning styles. This often leads to applying an “ineffective” approach leading to you feeling disheartened. But in reality; it may just be the matter of finding a more appropriate approach for your unique style and needs (After all; Possible in the world is possible for you!).
Imbalance of time, energy, effort, attention, or investment to your result. When creating something of value, like a habit or behaviour change, the process can be enhanced by discovering the right combination of our efforts, energy, attention, time, and investment in making it happen. Do too much of one, or over-look an element completely and this can impact success. For example, if you give the behaviour lots of attention e.g., thinking about the goal, researching the how, investing in all the equipment but then take little effort in the actual “doing” then you are likely to make little progress. You might also find you are “lacking in ownership” of the goal. Taking little or no responsibility for making the change happen, hoping a magic wand will or a lottery win will resolve it over-night. #ResolutionDisownership
If you are still inclined to set some new year’s resolutions, remember to lean into the grit or struggle of doing something new or different.
If like me you have put solid resolutions on the backburner this year, you may prefer to explore this exercise below to help you create and live a fulfilled and purposeful life.
In living your lifestyle with a focus on health and happiness, it can be useful to understand and return to your values – Having done this exercise myself many a time, I use my values as a moral compass to guide me towards the things that will enhance living happily and away from those that won’t. (Value’s Hierarchy is a transformative exercise I utilise in clients’ sessions too. With many clients sharing the ways they use these to proactively inform change.)
In place of “Resolutions” I prefer to focus on establishing “principles” or “pledges” for living.
These might stay the same, or be adjusted, for a specific change you want to achieve, like having more or less of something in your life (e.g., more time for self, less drama in life).
I’ve included an example of 7 principles you can use as a guide or self-mentor your life by.
You don’t have to use all of them.
Find the ones that fit for you, from the ones I have included below
Or even write your own.
Whatever you choose, ensure they are living concepts.
When faced with a challenge or opportunity, return to them, scan through. Do your choices and decisions align with living out these principles?
Write them down,
Say them out loud
Share them with a friend, or colleague.
Notice them regularly.
7 Principles for a kinder- to-self 2022
Celebration- we often overlook the “practice” of celebration. Our minds are drawn to negative or worrying stuff. Invite yourself to notice and celebrate the great things you have or are progressing with (small and big!)
Acceptance- Whilst I am all for change, goal setting and self-improvement. One of the biggest learning I have had through my own coaching journey is acceptance. Learning to accept the things that we can and cannot control. Learning to accept the things that are in our own power to change and influence taking the opportunity to do so. Accepting yourself for the light and the shade, success, and failure. Notice how with acceptance grows a natural sense of greater compassion too and an appreciation in your powerful uniqueness.
Forgiving – How much anger are you holding about something? Is resentment or regret eating away at you, or driving you to eat? What is that anger or frustration doing for you? Whether it’s forgiving yourself or forgiving someone else the practice of forgiving can be helpful in the right context. This doesn’t mean becoming a walk-over. It’s simply choosing whether you carry around old clutter, that no longer serves you. If it’s more helpful to forgive then hold on let it happen. Forgiving can be done through empathy, not sympathy. Understanding that no one is perfect.
Letting go – The process of letting go can be immensely therapeutic. Whilst some aspects of life need deeper healing or help to move on from. It can often be surprising – when explored- how easy the practice of letting go can become with practice. One of my favourite “letting go” mantras is “not for me” whether this might be choosing not to receive a cutting remark from someone or witnessing a “drama” in a friends life (who might not yet be ready to change) and avoiding the urge to "fix. It could even be an old belief like thinking you are not able to do something, before having a go – now whisper to yourself “not for me” and just let it go.
Being curious – if you have coached with me, you will already have heard me say, Curiosity is a total super-power. The way I describe this is, imagining you have a pair of glasses with “curiosity” lenses. When you put them, things are magically transformed! Instead of shutting new things down, for fear, you get curious. If someone behaves in a different way to what you’re used to, grab those curiosity glasses “hmmm, interesting – different!”. If you have a go at something and it goes a bit topsy-turvy ....be curious to learn and develop. It takes a lot less energy to be curious, than being annoyed at yourself! Curious? Have a go!
Connection: Connecting, re-connecting, and disconnecting – The practice of connection can happen three-fold. Connection is a valuable human need, from people to learning to purpose, connect with things that add value to your health and happiness. Re-connecting is finding ourselves with things or people we value but maybe forget their importance or “archived” for a while” and are ready to reconnect with. Disconnecting, like letting go, is making space and giving up stuff that doesn’t help you live a healthy/happy life. From toxic relationships to screen-scrolling – disconnect! In finding the right connections inwards and outwards we can hugely enhance our prospects.
Boundaries – get to know what safety and security is for you, in terms of your boundaries, relationships, commitments and self-esteem. Say no (or yes) to more things. Use the letting go principle to give-up living your life, by the expectations of others. Dance in the stretch zone, where you built fences before. And be curious about how to communicate in a straight-forward and respectful way. (Remember what other people think about you is none of your business!)
For help with discovering and living your own principles for a healthier, happier life this year and beyond. If you are curious about establishing meaningful values and want to find out how coaching with JKChangeWork can help you reach purposeful goals. Be sure to book a FREE no obligation discovery call or zoom with JK HERE