5 min read

Top New Years Resolutions

Are you as excited as I am?

While a lot of people are waiting for New Years to begin some heart felt resolution, I’m reflecting on 2011 and have started my planning process.

This includes a revisit to my vision/purpose and values statements, a reflection of the things I got done in 2011 and what I would like to do come 2012. I’m thinking about what skills I learned this past year and what I should learn this year.

I’m not waiting for New Years, and neither should you!

Unless you’re a tax lawyer, the week between Christmas and New Years is traditionally slow for most people. It’s the perfect opportunity really to reflect and set yourself up for a grand new year, if you’re into the whole resolutions thing and most people are.

Unfortunately many people won’t make a resolution, reflect upon the previous year, or plan an appropriate course of action until after January 1st, 2012. In the fitness business, it’s actually the second week of January where we see the huge influx in New Years Resolution business — it usually tapers off by February.

I say though, get started right now or you’re wasting a lot of quality time.

My Beef with New Years Resolutions:

According to a survey in 2007, 88% of people fail in their New Years resolutions. Ouch…

I think my biggest beef with the concept is that people will actually wait for New Years to make a big push to change something worthwhile. New Years resolutions are a way for 50% of the population to procrastinate in changing something today, in favour of the New Year. However, it is kind of nice that there is a time of year that encourages a sense of renewal.

First Take Home Lesson: Make the change you want right now, while it’s still meaningful in your eyes. Waiting is sabotage.

In fact the whole process of resolutions, practically sets you up for failure. We never call them a New Years Resolution, they are almost always referred to in bulk as ‘Resolutions.’

Thinking you should make more than one resolution is a surefire way to extinguish your efforts.

Research shows us that setting one goal, or resolution, should equate to roughly an 80% chance of success.

However, tack on a second goal to that equation and you’re looking at a 67% chance of success for either. Add a third resolution, now we’re talking 50%. Try to do 5 things at once, and now you have a mere 30% chance of success, that’s crazy talk, but it also highlights the importance of focus.

Second Take Home Lesson: Set only one resolution, focus on one only.

Finding success in a resolution is a lot like training. We train to make a movement stonger, but it is only through deliberate practice and repetition of a movement do we force an adaptation to occur based on the stimuli. Likewise, setting resolutions and achieving them needs to be deliberately practiced and the process of success repeated. If you’ve had success with a resolution before, you are probably more likely to continue exhibiting success in your resolutions moving forward.

It is not enough to say something like, “I’m going to be a better person this year,” or “I’m going to lose some weight this year.” First, that isn’t specific enough, without at least defining — through reflection this week — what those mean in detail. Further to that, you should identify the things that you need to do on a daily basis that will deliver your desired outcome. Then practice them daily starting January 1st. This will be a surefire way to keep yourself on target for the rest of the year.

Third Take Home Lesson: Create a process to follow daily (or in some cases weekly depending on the resolution), the more frequently you train something — like a muscle — the more adaptation and change occurs and the greater your chance of success in your efforts will be.

Once you’re identified the thing you should do daily as a New Years Resolution — for example, one of these — that will take you closer to your desired outcome, you need to double check your commitment. A lot of people have a great notion towards making a change this time of year, but few are actually committed to making it happen. Sometimes it’s social pressures, for instance our family or friends may tell us we need to lose weight. Other times, it’s occupational, a boss perhaps giving us an ultimatum.

Simply put, on a scale of one to ten, if you can commit to doing something daily with a 9 out of 10 (90% certainty) effort, you can probably get started now. If you’re not that confident, you may want to make the resolution a little bit simpler. For example, if your objective is to do 5 servings of veggies a day — a great resolution by the way! — but you’re only seven out of ten sure you can do that daily, start with 3 servings a day for now if you’re nine out of ten certain you can do that.

Fourth Take Home Lesson: Make sure it’s something you feel confident in committing to.

Those are my big four take-homes when you go to do your resolutions this year.

  1. Get Started Now
  2. Focus on One Resolution Only This Year
  3. Create daily process-oriented goals that accumulate and deliver the desired outcome with deliberate practice.
  4. Double check your commitment level to a resolution to make sure you’re not being influenced by outside parties. 

If you’re having trouble reflecting and coming up with something good think about a few of the following questions to the various parts of your life:

  • What did I do really well this past year?
  • What do I still need to work on or address?
  • What are my strong areas?
  • What areas need more work or refinement?
  • What would or should I be doing more of?
  • What would or should I be doing less of?
  • What gets me out of bed in the morning?
  • What keeps me up at night?
  • What is my purpose statement? Has it changed? Otherwise known as a headstone sentence, or one sentence I hope others would say of me, were I gone.
  • What are my value statements? Have they changed? Have I lived up to them this year? Does anything above this, shed new light on my virtues, values or principles?

I like to ask these questions from a general point of view and if time permits get more specific applying each question to each of the realms of well-being.

This gives me some clarity or focus as to what things I need to work on in 2012, and also paints something worth re-visiting through-out the year.

Hopefully it can do the same for you.