It is that time of year, when people think New Year, new leaf… turn the page. They do this by resolving to do something differently and live a different life. Let me ask you a question, do you do this? If so, what is your track record. (#Resolutions)
It is a curious custom. Once a year after we have spent quality time with family and friends, we realise that we may have some different choices. You regularly hear of people who are fed up with the 9-to-5 existence, who desire better life outcomes (such as more exercise), different body shapes, to give up alcohol, tobacco etc. There are many things people might desire to change given the impetus of a New Year.
Why is it curious? It is related to the question about success. When I speak to people about New Year resolutions, I tend to hear two or three different responses:
- I don’t make them because I know I can’t keep them.
- I make them because I ought to make them, or
- I’d like to change my life, how is a resolution going to help?
Social interactions in January tend to feature queries about your resolutions, how many you made and if you’ve still kept them. There is usually a lot of hilarity and lots of “I told you so’s”.
So why is this just a New Year thing? Surely if the desire for change is strong enough anytime is good to start working on a completely different future for yourself.
Change isn’t easy.
So herein lies the problem. We make resolutions because there is pressure on us as something we “ought to do”. Most people appear to start from a point where they don’t expect to keep their resolutions and it is often noticeable that people can’t be relied upon to support you in what you are trying to achieve. Then we determine it is a flawed process – despite the fact that we may have inadvertently stacked the odds for failure against ourselves.
These are not bad ideas however, DO share goals with selected friends and family – those who you know will be fair and honest. You’ll be surprised at the help they will give towards them – just the simple expedience of asking “how are you getting on” can spur people on to greater effort. This is also useful market research into what you are planning to do.
So what is the answer? If you need to make change in your life, set a realistic goal and start working on the change straight away. Why wait until next January? If you don’t like something in your life, why put up with it any longer than you have to? Also, set realistic sub-goals. Big life change can’t be accomplished overnight, but small changes can… and many small changes over time create tangible progress that increase motivation towards the ultimate goal. If you can see the change is working, you are more likely to continue to make it happen. You can’t leap a tall building in a single bound, but you can get to the top of the Empire State Building one step at a time.
Sounds easy – but it isn’t. Real life change is transformational, but can be hard work. Get some help. If you don’t know where to start a coach can help. Contact me on Twitter (@WestwoodCoach) and I’d be happy to help you think about your transformational needs.
So, my thinking is that people shouldn’t make resolutions. Do you think Peter Jones or Alan Sugar work on the basis that they’ll get around to it next year? Instead of hollow resolutions made because you should, or ought to, make life goals based on your desire for change. Personally, I haven’t made a New Year resolution for decades – I have a set of clear future goals and I am totally focused on them.
A few years ago, some friends of ours who were Deputy Head Teachers sold up, quit their jobs and bought a delicatessen in Hawes, North Yorkshire. The work is hard, but the business is working and they get more time to pursue outdoor interests than they had in their previous careers. Friends say that they are blissfully happy and on track to creating a valuable new business. Transformation, it is hard…. But it is worth it.
Enjoy the champagne at midnight. When you are clearing up in the morning, just ask yourself this. Is what I do, what I really want to be doing for the rest of my days? Lots of people will say yes, and good luck to them. If you said no, time to think about choices. You will undoubtedly have some….
Happy New Year! (#HappyNewYear, #2015)