Re-Calibrating Our 2019 Resolutions
It’s mid-February and I thought it might be a good time to re-visit our New Year’s resolutions. Let me begin by saying that I am not a huge fan of deciding on December 31 what I will or won’t do from January 1 on. But, I know, many of us do make those kinds of predictions for ourselves. So let’s take a look at some of the issues around them.
I am by nature a positive person and so I always want to believe that people can do anything they put their minds to, within reason. Losing some weight. Going to the gym, reading more, eating better. That all seems doable at first glance, doesn’t it?
So, why are less than 10% of us still pursuing our resolutions after only one month?
For one thing, setting a habit in our life takes a while. I’ve heard all kinds of numbers but the latest is 66 days. That’s a little over two months. That means getting up every day and for 65 days doing whatever it is no matter how lousy we feel about it at the time. Somehow on day 66 something changes and we hit another gear that, up to then, we apparently did not have.
Ever try to do anything for that long? I have a workout routine now that has become second nature but I can tell you that the first month or two of doing it way back when was difficult. Every day that I got in my car I wanted to just turn the engine off and go back inside and make more coffee. I persevered, and then one day it wasn’t so difficult. In fact, I actually started looking forward to the gym and the endorphins it gave me. Nobody was more surprised by this development than me, and it was a great learning experience for other difficult things that I want to make a habit in my life.
Three years ago I decided that I wanted to write a book every year for the next 10 years. Ten in all over 10 years. I love writing and learning and teaching and so I thought this might be easier than driving to the gym those first 65 days. But, here’s what I found. The same excuses in a slightly different form reared their ugly heads. I’m a busy person with responsibilities! I’m a NYSE board member! Good gracious. How am I supposed to write a book every year for 10 years?
Here’s how: One word a time, one page at a time. I get in my writing room every day and I do what’s doable. I don’t set goals for myself that I know I will not even try to reach. I can write one word, and then two, and then a page and then a book. The whole process is digestible if I take it one bite at a time. Yes, it’s still hard work, but after a while, like workouts, something happens. The pages call to me. There’s a rock in my shoe to write and make progress. Somehow, I have gone from not really loving to do it to not being able to live without it. That’s what good habits do. My next book in the series, Follow These Leaders, publishes later this month. So far so good.
Here’s the secret to making and keeping your resolutions: Don’t over reach. We get crazy and we put demands on ourselves that we can’t possibly keep and then we are in shock when we fail. If you decide you are going to work out, don’t go join the Iron Man tour. Just figure out what you can do every day consistently and get going. Then, when it gets too easy, you make it slightly more difficult. You know you can write one page, or do one push-up, or walk for 20 minutes. Start there. Feel the success that consistency brings. You’ll be patting yourself on the back for how well you are doing, and even that self-prescribed accolade will lift you up and make you want to do more. Success breeds success if you let it. At least that’s what I’ve found.
So, if you are one of those 90% who have already given up on their 2019 resolutions, don’t brood. Take a minute to rethink them. Re-frame them into doable possibilities and tasks. And, then, wake up every day from now on and stay the course. Pretty soon you’ll arrive at your desired destination.
It’s only February. You’ve got time to recalibrate and do great things in 2019. Stay encouraged.