Why Some New Year's Resolutions Work and Some Fail

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Do people keep New Year’s resolutions?

Do people formulate resolutions for success?

Will you keep your resolutions?
Hold that thought…

Before you join the naysayers who are quick to point out that 4 out of 5 of the 100 million Americans who set these well-meaning intentions won’t achieve them, consider that you don’t have to be among this statistic.  One wonders: of the 1/3 of people whose resolutions won’t even witness the January/February flip of the calendar, how many actually make wholehearted, well-defined resolutions, supported by a plan to achieve them?

I once vowed to give up sugar. (Yes, seriously).  Needless to say: I failed.  It’s possible I didn’t even make it to my Mom’s birthday before I probably licked the icing off her cake while no one was looking.  This was disappointing for two reasons: 1.) I don’t even like cake (nothing worse that having a goal implode, than for it to be at the hands of an unworthy temptation) and 2.) her birthday is on January 5th.  (That’s today; HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!).

Here’s why that resolution was doomed:

  • It was poorly defined: Was I giving up all sugar?  Or, just candy and desserts?  What about “sugar-free” candies, fraught with all kinds of mysterious chemicals, instead?  What about honey?  What about dark chocolate, with all its redeeming antioxidant properties?  What about strawberries dipped in dark chocolate?  Do you see where the trouble started?
  • I had no plan of attack: If, for example, I would allow myself to enjoy naturally occurring sugars and other forms of sweets, was I well-stocked with these items?  Would I arrive at birthday parties and family fetes prepared, toting along my own, natural, nutritious, and sweet tooth-satiating treats?  Clearly not (see above cake incident).
  • I wasn’t invested: To achieve anything, you have to want it.  Giving up sugar sounded nice, and I knew I’d be better off without it, but, honestly, restrictive eating isn’t a top value of mine.  I eat very healthy, in general, so I didn’t see an urgent need to change my current behavior by striking the occasional indulgence from what I considered an already mindful approach to food.  If the upside isn’t compelling for you, you won’t commit to your goal.

I, also, once upon a time, vowed to write a blog. That was 3 years ago.

Here’s why that resolution rocked:

  • I wanted to do it: I knew nothing about blogs.  My perception was that they, all too often, fell somewhere between well-meaning but poorly written and self-important drivel about what one ate for breakfast.  But, a suggestive, steadfast voice inside me said to do it anyway and do it differently.  I had ideas and information about yoga and wellness that I wanted to share.  I thought people might like to listen, and if they didn’t, then, it would be a gut-check for the drivel of which I was so terrified.  It couldn’t hurt to try, and it would only further serve my larger goals if I succeeded.
  • It supported my future self: If I was ever going to write bigger “stuff” (an ongoing life goal), it made sense that I would start with smaller stuff.  To me, a blog made sense this way.
  • I became accountable: The very nature of writing for other people (albeit only a few of you, initially) made me accountable.  It was like getting a workout buddy to help you stick with a resolution to go to the gym regularly or joining a running group to complete the “run a marathon” item on your bucket list.

In other words, to the question of whether all New Year’s resolutions fail, we can answer with a resounding NO!  NO!  NO!

[Quick, someone cue the baby].

What are your most/least successful resolutions?


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