So it’s the end of January and the year is in full swing. Doesn’t feel like the year is one month old, does it? We’re all back at work and going at our day to day lives at full speed. But I quickly wanted to check up on you.
How are you doing with those new year’s resolutions you made at the start of the year?
No seriously, think about it. How would your life be right now if you stuck to all your resolutions? What would your friends be saying and how would you be feeling?
This was going to be the year right? This was going to be the year when you get into shape, start that new project, get that promotion or whatever other great goal you had. How is that going?
If you are anything like me. Not that great!! We all start the new year thinking that this is the year that things are going to change. This is the year!! And then one month in, you look back and you are right back where you were last year this time.
So why do new year’s resolutions fail?
If you ask me, there are lots of reasons. Little reasons that you might not even be aware of like Neuropeptides and massive reasons like the way you have designed your life or the people who are in your life.
One of the main reasons however, is that we don’t make our resolutions actionable. New year resolutions are great. They are the far off dreams that everyone wants to achieve. The things you should be thinking of every single month and not just in January. It’s great to dream and you should have resolutions. The problem is that most people leave it at just that, a resolution. It’s a nice to have. Oh it would be nice to get fitter, it would be nice to eat healthier, to get that promotion…… But its not a have to have.
Think about the difference it would make in your life if you improved your health and you had more energy and performed at a higher level every day. Think about the difference it would make if you got that promotion or salary increase, because you showed your boss what your are really worth. What could you do with that extra money and what difference would it make if you got that promotion this year instead of next year? You’ll cut a year off your career….
Your new year’s resolutions have to move from nice to haves to HAVE TO HAVE.
Do you really want your new year’s resolutions?
So how do you move your new year’s resolutions from being nice to haves to have to haves? Firstly, you have to go sit and think about what the things are that you really want, that will make a difference in your life. You are going to have to look at your self-image and where you see yourself a year from now.
If you see yourself as “a smoker” or as as one of those people who “just doesn’t go to the gym” or you keep telling yourself “oh, I’ll never get that promotion”. Then it doesn’t help that you make quit smoking, going to the gym and getting a promotion your resolutions. They fly right in the face of your invisible scripts or blueprints, as Ramit Sethi and Tony Robbins call them.
Invisible scripts are the things we have been telling ourselves for years and the things that society and the media have been telling you us as well. We all have different ones though. Whether it’s connected to money “oh rich people are all crooks” or “money doesn’t grow on trees” or to who you are “I’m just not a leader” or “I could never do……..”. Whatever, you know what I am talking about because you just thought of one of your invisible scripts.
Take a moment to think about these. What are the things you have been telling yourself over and over in your head. Are they true? Where did you learn them? Most of these invisible scripts have been designed by people who are no smarter than you are, or they were told to you by people who don’t really know you. Nobody, not even your mom, can tell you what you are or aren’t, only you can decide that.
Now think about your New Year’s resolutions. Are you setting yourself up for failure? Are you setting resolutions that you don’t believe about yourself? If you believe rich people are all crooks and you set yourself a resolution to make more money………. “That ain’t going to happen sweetheart. I ain’t no crook.” (For some reason that sentence plays out in my head in an angry southern accent)
So think about these resolutions. Are they true? Are they helping you, or stopping you? Don’t set resolutions that are directly in opposition to your invisible scripts unless you are prepared to change them.
Just a few of the invisible scripts I had:
That only “dumb protein-powder-using jocks workout”;
“You have to work long hours to get somewhere”;
“You have to get a degree to get anywhere in life”;
“Online courses are all scams and you don’t learn anything”;
“Self help and personal improvement books are for losers”.
The list is endless…..
Don’t try to duplicate everyone else’s new year’s resolutions
The second big reason New Year’s resolutions fail, is because you are chasing everyone else’s resolutions. Getting into shape and eating healthier are brilliant resolutions and I support you 100%!! The problem is that everyone tries to get to these results the same way.
Everybody joins the gym and buys a paleo cookbook. You are not everyone, so stop trying to be!!
This was one of my big reasons for failing. I was trying to do what everyone else was doing. I was looking at the actions, but missing the principles. The actions are going to the gym, running on a treadmill and picking up weights. The principle is exercising. Just that. Get some exercise.
Don’t get caught up in the technicalities and what everyone else is doing. This is about making you better, not everyone else. Figure out what exercise works for you.
Do what I did. I really didn’t like the gym. I didn’t like the environment and it was way too easy to let myself down and say: “Nah not today”. So I started looking at different classes in my area. Pilates, yoga, swimming, whatever I could find and I started going to the free classes (most places have a free introductory class, just ask). After about 2 months I found Krav Maga, it was something where you trained really hard and you also learned a new skill. On top of that it was a group activity, so I was letting everyone else down when I didn’t go. (Top tip: Find something that you do in a group or find a gym buddy/accountability partner. It works.)
Krav Maga isn’t for everyone, and I get punched in the face quite a few times. The point here is to find something that YOU like. I don’t believe you when you say you hate exercise. You just haven’t found the right one for you, yet!! Keep looking, you’ll find something that you love and it won’t even feel like exercise.
Screw new year’s resolutions. Start New Years habits.
Ok, once you’ve done all of this. You’ve figured out what you really want and what works for you. Now you can start putting it all into action.
This is where it gets really, really practical!! This is where you take those resolutions and break them down into actionable habits, you break it down to a day-to-day level.
Another reason resolutions fail is because you think about them at the beginning of the year and then never ever again. Fine, you might have gone to the gym and signed up for a gym membership. Now you have to make it a habit. You have to make it something you do without thinking. Something that when you don’t do it, it kinda feels weird.
So screw resolutions and start thinking habits.
Your resolutions might be to exercise more, but what will the habits for that be?
For me personally it was to go to training at least 4 times per week.
Ok nice. Now how do I get to do that? First thing, I set a reminder on my phone for every night at 6pm to go to the class. Even if I am working late I get that reminder and it makes me ask the question “Do I really need to do this, or can I do it tomorrow?”
Secondly, I actually pack my exercise clothes in my laptop bag every day. Not in a gym bag I leave in the car, no, right there in my laptop bag where they are staring at me all day. I just need to get up, get dressed and I’m ready to go.
Last one, after a few months, my wife also joined (it’s a bit scary, she can beat me up now). Having someone else work with you on your habits is the silver bullet. As human beings we will easily let ourselves down, but we won’t easily let other people down. Use that against yourself, it works.
Small tip: If you can’t find someone to go to gym with you or work on your resolution with you, use social pressure. I procrastinated to start this blog for ages. Then I figured this one out. I told a bunch of people I was going to start a blog and I actually got their email addresses. Now all of a sudden I had a bunch of my friends who knew I wanted to start a blog and they were waiting for me to start… I wasn’t going to let them down.
Create some social pressure for yourself, put it on facebook or tweet it out. People will ask you about it and keep you accountable.
Need some help?
I know it can be really difficult figuring out how to make resolutions into habits. So I made a quick pdf with just 4 of my New Years resolutions and the habits I’ve set to reach them. If you subscribe to the email list below you’ll get instant access to this sheet.
Just think how jealous your friends are going to be when you look super hot and get that job promotion.
They’ll all be wondering how you did it and you’ll know the secret…… It’s all in the habits.
PS:I’ll be jumping into the comments below to help you out. If you have resolutions that you want to make habits, post them below and I’ll help you figure it out in a private Facebook message.