New Year's Resolutions that ✩ Stick ✩

Here it comes: a brand new year.

Even if we’re not big on New Year’s Resolutions and kind of roll our eyeballs at everyone else's enthusiasm, we somehow all LOVE this idea of a fresh start.

We may not be splashing out for a new gym membership or swearing off sugar, but we all have this moment of bright human hope: that this January might mark the beginning of the end of our stagnation, our dissatisfaction, our boredom, our fear.

We want this so badly.

We want to finally get it together, to kick our bad habits, do what we say we want to, and stop letting shit get in our way. We want irreversible, dramatic change.

So we start off with January with Olympian aspiration.

We double up on our efforts. We white knuckle it. Resolve to be more patient, more emotionally balanced, less defensive. We drink more water and less wine. We fill our pantry with healthy food and start decluttering our closets.

We map out our website launch, our new job search, the pounds we'll lose, the cash we'll save, the languages we'll learn, how fantastic we'll feel when we are finally doing it. 

By week three there's a lot less enthusiasm. And the excuses start creeping in:

  • Just a couple glasses of wine, a few nights a week, and only with Netflix.

  • Launching a business is too hard. I don’t have what it takes.

  • My relationship isn’t that bad. Communicating is uncomfortable. Why rock the boat?

  • This job is actually fine. I like my desk. I can’t deal with the whole job search thing.

  • Decluttering is overrated. I might need this stuff in the future. It’s good to have it, just in case.

  • What’s the point of trying to be more patient if others won’t stop annoying me?

  • Eating healthy is boring. And I’m not really seeing results. Am I?

By February, we’re fully defeated. Done even trying. Habit has dragged us back under.

And without the collective steam of everyone else’s New Year’s enthusiasm, our resolve peters out. So we trudge through another dull year. Coffee, sugar, shopping, wine and Netflix keep us afloat.

There’s a glimmer of hope in spring, another as autumn kicks off the second half of the year. But it’s hard to keep on keeping on when we’ve tried and failed uncountable times.

It’s not that change is impossible. Of course not. In fact, it's the only thing we can count on.

It’s that our expectations are ridiculously high, and we badger ourselves when we don’t meet them. Plus, we haven’t added the special sauce – the 3 ingredients that counter our habit of inertia, doubt, of throwing in the towel.

Ingredients?

That's right. When we keep these in mind as we go forth with our plans, resolutions, proclamations and commitments, anything becomes doable.

The 3-Ingredient Special Sauce

1. Aspiration

This is our dangling carrot. If we start with a dim, fuzzy understanding of WHY we want to do whatever it is we want to do, we won’t make it past January. Likewise, if it’s based on a flimsy, self-indulgent want, it won’t give us much of a leg to stand on when the slope gets slippery. No judgment. It's just that the broader the aspiration we have in mind, the more deeply satisfying our results are. Don’t worry if you’re starting shallow.

This worksheet will help you fatten up your aspiration so it stays tough, come hell or high water. Write out your answers to column E on the wall, say them out loud daily. Memorize them. Sing them. Make them your mindset. 

2. Acceptance

This is about being realistic. It’s about half-expecting to fall off the horse, rather than being shocked and devastated when it happens. When we have giant expectations of doing it perfectly, of things being easy, we are inevitably horribly disappointed. Why not meet yourself where you are? No big deal. You're human. You drank too much again. You blew off your plan. You spun our wheels for 3 full weeks and did nothing. It’s ok.

Habit runs deep, and its function is to resist change. How about making it a habit to accept whatever outcome arises and still walk in the direction of glory? Fall down. Get back up. Fall down. Get back up. That's how we get there. One banged-up knee at a time.

3. Accountability

AKA: Help. We all need it. We like to think we can go it alone, but without another human keeping an eye on us, we start justifying, relaxing the rules, talking ourselves out of what we wanted to do. Fear creeps in. Things get hard and we give up.

Accountability is king. We need someone to hold out the big picture of our lives without getting lost in the details (like we invariably do). Someone who will gladly give us a swift kick in the pants and remind us of what we SAID we wanted to do. Someone nonjudgmental, wise, loving. Line it up for yourself. Enlist a friend. Join a group. Get a coach. Tell them where you're aiming and what your usual rabbitholing tactics are, so they can see it coming and pull you up and out. 

No reason you can't stick with this.

Flexibly. At your own pace. In your own way. 

Rooting for you. Happy New Year!

xo

Sonja


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Sonja Shahan