We want to live our best lives as the best versions of ourselves.  With the New Year comes a promise to accomplish something big, to do that thing we’ve been putting off.  We make a resolution.

But we shouldn’t, and here’s why…

The Problem With Resolutions

  1. Resolutions (or goals) are results driven.  So, we define an outcome and then try to figure out how to get there.  This makes it a race to the finish rather than a process of productive change.
  2. We make these decisions during the holidays when everything is in a state of novelty—or stress.  It’s also a time when we feel uplifted and hopeful (which is good) but we tend to trivialize the sacrifices we may have to make, and downplay how much it will change our routine.
  3. We’ve been down this road before.  We didn’t achieve what we set out to do… it sucks and makes us feels like crap.  Did you beat yourself up over it?  I have!  Worse than that,  when we get down on ourselves, we reenforce that negative pattern so we don’t see the failure in the system… we just think “I” failed. 

What Do We Do Instead?

Our perception defines our reality.  Period!  So let’s “flip the script” and change how we do this.

Choose one aspect of your life you’d like to improve.  Instead of some arbitrary result,  commit to being more aware or mindful of the change you want to see on a daily basis. 

Sounds too simple?  Here’s why it works:

  • Starting simple by choosing your focus is not stressful or overwhelming.
  • It triggers the reticular activating system so your mind “tunes in” to information and opportunities to make the improvements toward the change you’re focussing o.n
  • Instead of daunting big plans that need discipline and willpower,  just start taking advantage of the little day-to-day choices that you see.  Many little choices add up to big results.
  • Every choice considered and made intentionally is a success… celebrate that.
  • This way you can only improve and the results from low-stress active choices leave you feeling empowered, confident and successful.

Here’s are a couple of quick examples:

  • Want to lose weight?  Focus on what you’re eating, when, and the physical activity you engage in… choosing to take that one flight of stairs or playing with the kids absolutely counts!
  • Get in better shape?  Find the little moments during the day when you can take a minute to stretch or do simple calisthenic exercises. Park the car farther away from the store.  Walk to get a coffee during your break.  
  • Learn a new skill?  Surround yourself with references and “cheat sheets,” quick guides that allow for micro-learning and remember to “rehearse” mentally.
  • Be more present in the moment?  Start using a screen time feature, turn the color off on your phone, actively be aware/mindful of the amount of television and screen time in your life.
  • Improve relationships?  Dedicate/schedule time with people without interruption.  Get them to teach you about something they love and are passionate about.  Be humble and eager to learn… you’ll both come out better for it.

This Can be a Great Year for You

This coming year will not suddenly be rainbows and unicorns and the beginning of the golden age of humanity… but it can be a very different year for you.  We can change our perception to change our choices, which ultimately changes our outcomes and reactions.  We can choose to be kind to ourselves by setting ourselves up for success, celebrating the little choices and victories that bring us closer the version of ourselves that we want to be.

✦ The Reticular Activating System is the part of your brain that in large part filters what is worthy of our attention and motivation from all the sensory input we take in.