I have an odd relationship with New Year’s resolutions. I really want them to be a thing, and I guess they are a thing, but I mean a thing in the way that they actually work. I know that the success or failure of a declaration depends on the person’s willingness to actually uphold the declaration yet we all seem to set these resolutions without really investing the commitment. Yes, we commit for a few days, weeks and for some a few months but then most revert back to the way things were.
Why do we feel the need to set these resolutions that statistically speaking will fail and potentially set some on the path of resentment, shame or failure? We forget we are the same people making the resolutions that created the problem in the first place that we feel needs reversing. Until we do the work to become a new person we cannot just decide to quit smoking or lose weight or whatever it is we think we want. There needs to be a strategy behind it and sadly most of us are ill equipped to create a strategy. We feel that just by saying something it will magically happen. And are we really as broken as we think we are when we make these resolutions?
For the most part setting resolution indicates we want to change our habits. We want to move from being sedentary to active. We want to quit a job we have been in the habit of going to every day for the last 20 years that is financially and emotionally supporting all of our habits. Yet we don’t actually build new habits or learn about how habits are created. What is going to stop us from just reverting back to old habits when we are quite oblivious to the complexities of the habits we already have and which are well ingrained?
This also begs the question, why would we want to change anything?
What about if we just did away with the New Year’s resolution? What would that look like. What if we considered our lives staying exactly the same way. How bad would that be? Maybe we love the life we have yet feel compelled to change because that’s what we are just supposed to do… want more… what if more isn’t the answer? What if less is the answer? Why don’t we hear people say I am going to do less? I am going for the job that pays less but has less stress?
If we take the time to do inventory of the life we have rather than the life we think we should have perhaps the life we actual want is the life we have. That it’s not the life we have that is making us unhappy it’s the quest for a new life. What if we took the relationships we have and just make them better by 10%? What if we just work on smiling more and being friendly by 10%. What if we spend just 10% less? What would that life look like for us? Those are sustainable and they may actually get us closer to the life we want faster that our New Year’s resolutions will.