Here we are, getting ready to start a brand new year. Are you all shuffling to make a new year’s resolution or have you had a list made for a couple of months, just waiting for January 1st? After all, that wasn’t a good time to make changes. Might as well wait until the first day of the new year to re-tackle all the things that you started on the first day of last year, but didn’t follow through with. Sounds harsh, but stay with me.
Why Resolutions Fail
Let’s be real with ourselves. New year’s resolutions don’t typically stick. 80% of resolutions fail by February. Why? Because several months ago you thought weight loss, a career change, or paying off debt were a good idea, but you didn’t care enough about making those changes to do them then. You did what any other struggling human being does — you decided on a date far enough in the future that you didn’t have to think about it right then, but near enough in the future that you didn’t have to feel bad about not thinking about it right then.
Raise your hand if you can relate. I’m talking about myself here. I get so tired of starting over. How about you? I have worked with literally hundreds of people over the last few years who have struggled hard with behavior change. Why? Because behavior change is hard.
Making a New year’s resolution is usually just setting you up for more failure. You don’t set a goal or start working toward something just because it’s the first day of a new year. Then a couple weeks in, when you’ve already given up, here you are already feeling like you’ve messed up the whole year. Go ahead and chalk this year up as a loss. Here’s to next year, right?
No, you start working toward something when you are ready. Otherwise, there’s no point in trying. You’re just making life harder otherwise. Think things through to find out what kind of changes you’re ready for in your life now.
First things first, you should make a list. Some of you know me and my love for lists. I’ll admit, not all of my lists are completely necessary, but this one is. Trust me! We all have all kinds of changes we would like to make in our lives. Or at least we think we want to make them. The first step in figuring out what you really want/need right now, is writing all of it down so it can be clearly analyzed.
No matter how small or large this goal is, write it on the list. Order doesn’t matter.
Now you have your list, here comes the fun part. It’s time to pick apart every single line. I mean, dig deep down inside of you and write down why you want that specific change. Not the surface level answer. You need the deep down, honest and raw answer.
Sometimes we want to change things because other people want us to, sometimes just because other people are doing it. We might want to look like other people look, make the money other people make, own the things other people own, do the things other people get to do. Sometimes this happens automatically, just because we haven’t taken the time to dig deep and decide what we really want and believe for ourselves. We even make a New Year’s resolution based on the resolutions of other people.
Sometimes we decide to change things because we really need to change them. We need to take better care of ourselves, for instance. But sometimes we aren’t ready. Sounds like an excuse on the surface, I know. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last few years of working with so many people on their individual fitness journeys, knowing you need something and actually wanting something are two totally different things. And I don’t care how important it is in reality, if you don’t want it, it’s not going to happen.
Turns out, motivation isn’t just a feeling. Just check the dictionary. It’s a why. It’s the reason behind your decision – motive. So we all have motivation. The question is — is your motive strong enough to carry you through to achieving your goal? No one will follow through consistently without a deep and meaningful motive. Something important enough to make you want it.
Only you know if you’re really ready for change. My best advice for the new year is be completely honest with yourself. Figure out what really matters to you. Not to Sally or Joe, not to your mom or dad, not to your friends. From there make a new list of goals. I bet you’re going to feel so much better about this list.
Figure out which one of your new list items you have the strongest motivation to get started on. If you’re being honest with yourself, that might be none of them right now. Guess what, that’s okay. It really is okay. We are all in different seasons in our lives. Right now might not be a good season for change in your life.
Also something to consider — so many of the things we put pressure on ourselves to change are of little importance in the grand scheme of things. That’s not to say that we should never hope or work for those things if we want them. But sometimes those things tend to lose importance to us over time, rushing into them doesn’t always serve us well. So take your time. Pray about your goals, no matter how small, don’t pressure yourself into anything. Take time, hear from God, and love yourself into that change when you’re ready.
Is this permission to put off all the hard things until you feel like tackling them? That’s a hard no. You probably won’t ever feel like tackling them. Remember, we’re being honest with ourselves so we aren’t going to let ourselves slack. It’s a matter of gauging the importance of things in your life and approaching them accordingly. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to make changes you don’t really want and start on the things you really want, when you’re ready.
If you’ve already made a new year’s resolution and you’re ready to go, don’t let this deter you from our goals. Go for it! Unless you find some truth in what I said about your goals not being something you really want for you, or maybe that you’re not ready for. Then I hope you will re-evaluate before you begin.
Making a New year’s resolution has such a “everyone else is doing it” connotation. It feels like something we’re just supposed to do. This year, I say trash your resolutions. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Take some time to examine your heart and your thought processes. My hope is that this year will be your best year yet, full of God’s greatest blessings and inexpiable peace.