Statistically, something like 10% of people actually make good on their New Year’s resolutions. A discouraging fact, especially if you’re looking to make some big (or small) changes in 2021.
However, I think part of the reason so many of us fail to follow through is that, when it comes to resolutions, we fall prey to doing what we think we SHOULD do, or else what everyone around us is doing.
We want to lose weight (probably the most common resolution of all time) and the latest thing is to buy a Peleton, so we jump on board, even if we’ve never tried a spinning class. Or we decide we’re going to start meditating daily because everyone is touting it as the secret to greater happiness and less stress. A worthwhile goal, but not if you absolutely hate meditating.
What I’m saying is this …
You know yourself best.
That’s right. No one on this planet knows you better than you. You know how you think. You know your tendencies. You know your past successes and failures. You know if you’re an all-or-none type personality or a more gradual action-taker.
You have a whole body of knowledge to draw on to help you be more successful. And THAT’s the advantage you have when it comes to setting your goals and resolutions. But it only works if you hold true to yourself and USE that knowledge as power, rather than ignoring it.
The more you align your goals with what feels right and good and authentic to you, the less you’ll need to rely on willpower – which, let’s face it, is really difficult and rarely successful in the long-term.
Do what works for you.
When patients come to me for help quitting smoking I tell them the method that will likely work best for them is the method they THINK will work best for them. Similarly, they know best what barriers are most likely to trip them up. It’s in large part a mental game and knowing oneself is an important piece of achieving success. The same holds true for other goals.
Let me give you a personal example. My first big test in my first semester of undergrad was a chemistry midterm. Though I didn’t particularly love chemistry, I had always done well in it. For this particular exam, I joined in on several group study sessions because that’s what my friends were doing, it seemed like a good idea, and why not benefit from each other’s knowledge?
Turns out, that didn’t work so well for me. I got a grade in the 60’s (when I was used to high 90’s). At the time, it felt like a slap in the face. I may have cried. And this was before Brene Brown made vulnerability trendy. But I digress.
The point is, I strayed from my tried and true study methods. What I’d always done and what had proven to be very effective for me up to that point. So the next go around, and from there forward, I skipped the group sessions and holed up by myself to study, with far more satisfactory results!
Learning from 2020
If 2020 did anything it stripped our lives back to the bare bones. It shed light on the things that are truly important. Hopefully, it gave you a chance to do a bit of soul searching and reconnect with who you authentically are and who you want to be.
Why not use that as a springboard when intention-setting for 2021? Even if your goal is the same as others, the action plan on how to get there needs to be unique to you. Tailored to your tendencies and preferences.
The cliche “you do you” exists for a reason! It’s not “you do Ted”, or “you do Sally”. I know I’m being facetious here, but seriously. If you’re setting resolutions, goals, or intentions for this year, forget about what you think you SHOULD do, what’s expected of you, or what’s popular at the moment, and spend some serious time contemplating how YOU factor into the goal, and not the other way around.