The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions some 4,000 years ago.
In vast contrast to the most popular resolutions nowadays — exercise more, lose weight, be a better person and get a better job — theirs were more externally focused.
At the start of each new year, the Babylonians promised to pay their debts and return borrowed farm equipment — strange, but okay. And in return, the gods would bestow good favor on them. But if they failed to keep their word, they would fall out of good graces with the gods.
Sounds easy enough….no one wants to be unliked by the gods.
But fast forward to 2018……
And most resolutions are internally focused and rarely accomplished. Our obsessiveness with setting impractical resolutions only works to affirm that change is next to impossible.
Think about the resolutions you’ve set over the last few years — unless, of course, you’ve given up on them altogether — and recall how many you have carried over from one year to the next.
Although we’ve done a good job of over complicating things from the time of the Babylonians, New Year’s resolutions are proof that people do wantto improve their lives…..
Making lasting change isn’t as simple as writing down intentions in your journal and waving a magic wand.
There is no divine intervention or easy solution.
And while so many people aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% will ever experience the taste of victory.
That means 156 million people will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “Happy New Ye-“.
So, why exactly don’t resolutions work?
A Lack of Patience
Expecting to change overnight is catastrophic. Developing lasting change requires patience….think of it as a marathon and not a sprint.
Instant gratification is to blame for this.
But if you truly want to experience change in your life, you’ll need to practice your long game.
It’s important to remember that your brain is prewired and it’s not that easy to change the neural pathways in the short term.
You literally need to retrain your brain to change a behavior….
…..and this takes time.
If you’ve tried something and failed, it’s easy to assume you’ll fail again.
Consider that you’ve had the same thoughts, which lead to the same behaviors, for most of your life. It takes time to unlearn those thoughts and behaviors and replace them with new ones.
Pay attention to the beliefs you have about yourself….what are they saying?
Your mind is a powerful tool, and if you doubt yourself, you’ll limit your potential.
Don’t give in to negative thoughts.
You Set Unrealistic Goals
Setting a resolution to scale a large mountain peak when you haven’t exercised in 5 years, you work 80 hours a week, and the closest you’ve come to nature is the dirt in your potted plants, a goal of this magnitude will take careful planning, time and preparation to execute.
But more importantly, it’s critical to ask yourself if this goal is manageable and achievable.
Because when you set unrealistic goals, it’s too easy to fail. And that feeling of failure further compounds your limiting beliefs that change is out of reach.
“I’ll never climb a mountain, so what’s the point in trying?”
A more realistic goal might be to work less and exercise more. And once this is accomplished, then you can set your sights on climbing a mountain.
Psychology professor Peter Herman and his colleagues have identified what they call the “false hope syndrome” ……..
When a resolution is significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with your internal view of yourself. This principle reflects that of making positive affirmations. When you make positive affirmations about yourself that you don’t really believe, the positive affirmations not only don’t work, they can be damaging to your self-esteem.
Think baby steps.
You Know The What, But Not The Why
I used to live for the adrenaline of bagging as many mountain peaks as physically possible.
One after another after another…..
I chased the high and accomplished my goals of scaling mountains, but it didn’t satisfy my goal of feeling fulfilled. I still felt empty on the inside.
This is because I was focused on the what and not the why. And it wasn’t until I had a near-death experience that I figured it out.
I don’t recommend waiting until you have a near-death experience to learn your why!
But knowing this is key to making life-long changes.
Do you crave more fulfillment in your life? A closer relationship with friends and family? More adventure?
When it comes time to cut down on your hours at work — the what — you’ll understand why this is important to you. And it will translate more easily to changed behaviors.
A Lack Of Support
How many self-help books have you read?
And how many:
>>goal + time tracking tools
>>roadmaps to success
>>morning routine blueprints
>>and habit tracking tools…….
…………Have you downloaded and forgotten about?
Intentions are a meritable place to start, but without execution they are baseless.
Tools like these have their place and, of course, knowledge is power, but attempting to make lasting change on your own generally leads to disappointment.
You need a support system. A cheerleader…..someone who will hold you accountable, teach you HOW to use the tools and give you the occasional kick in the butt.
Resolutions just don’t work. They are a worthy aspiration, but they’re a short-term solution to a long-term objective.
If you’re ready to transform your life and wish to have a more fulfilled, purpose-driven existence, it might be time to stop trying to do it on your own.