Strava looked at more than 108 million entries in the U.S. and realised that most Americans are likelier to quit their resolutions on a Thursday. I don’t have the numbers for the U.K. or other countries, but it would not be far off; by Jan 19th, most of us would have gone back to the old ways. It is not because of our decisions but how well prepared we are to tackle the years, the big “WHY”, our self-discipline and the nature of the goals we set.
New Year’s Resolution (NYR) is not that new; 4000 years ago, Babylonians made their first new year’s resolution in mid-March when they celebrated the spring harvest of barley, a 12-day festival called Akitu. We got the name January from the two-faced roman god Janus; he was always facing the past and the future, the old and the new, and the god of doorways and transitions.
We want to use the new year as motivation, but in all honesty, sometimes we need more self-discipline and specific steps to measure our progress towards whatever we want for the year. I use Strava to track my sports results and connect with others in my fitness network, and it’s great to get myself motivated when I see others pushing through. Connecting with people on a similar journey is fundamental for you, which adds invisible ‘accountability” and encourages you to keep going in sports and whichever goal you have.
Another research demonstrated that 80% of people give up on the NYR by February, and that’s when the NYR utterly sinks. Every year millions of us gather all the energy we can master to make sure we will stick to it just to get beaten by old habits (these tend to die hard).
Trust the Process
Let’s face it: if the goals set are not grounded in self-discipline and a robust process, it is unlikely to be successful. However, there is more to success than achieving a new year’s goal. For instance, being congruent and truthful with who we are is also paramount. As someone once said, “The truth will set you free” – you must be intentional and focused, and above all, trust the process.
We do not necessarily need to jump on the “new-year-new-me” bandwagon in the first place. Bringing part of our old self into the new year is not all bad. There are many good things inside of you that you should keep and make sure to develop in the new year. Instead of focusing only on the new stuff you want to create, why not look inside yourself and build up greatness from the things you know you can develop and be great at? What can you be grateful for? Celebrate that too, and experience joy in life.
After that, could you consider why you are setting these goals (reasons plus needs)? Maybe you say – I need to lose weight, for example. Ok, why? Perhaps instead of focusing on weight loss, you aim to change your eating habits aiming at getting more physically fit as your starting point. Take that psychological pressure away immediately, and focus on the positive aspect of gaining something rather than losing.
But, then, how?
Get a goals journal and write down all you need to do and what you need to learn. Make an inventory of what you are currently eating. What can you change? How fit are you? Map the step-by-step process, and set milestones. Join a club, enter a race, etc. The resolution will not work itself out. Work out your goals and change them into a lifestyle, get yourself a Mantra, and become what you want to achieve before you see it through. Now replace health for any other area; the process is the same. Remember, James Clear, Author of the Atomic Habits books, said, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.
“Let all your efforts be directed to something, let it keep that end in view. It’s not activity that disturbs people, but false conceptions of things that drive them mad.” ― Seneca
I want to encourage you and say that your life is way more significant than the year you are currently living in. Think about goals that might take you further than the year you are entering. I started this new year in December 2022, working on many new processes I wanted to add to my journey from 2023 onwards. What do we want to add, change, develop, increase, etc.?
Ask yourself: What do I need to do, and how are they connected to who I am and where I am going?
Would you happen to know where you are going? Are you running a marathon or a sprint? Think about the next two, three and five years. What changes can you make today that will impact your future self? But you have got to know where you are heading. Lewis Carrol in Alice in Wonderland wrote something like, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”.
Do you know who you are?”A person who doesn’t know their purpose in life doesn’t know who they are or what the universe is.” ― Marcus Aurelius
The “Who” element – your identity defines your purpose, and vice-versa; a life purpose will shape your identity, and both together will support your vision, goals and objectives for any stage of your life. Who you are, where you want to be, and why, get those nailed!
Bringing your good old self into the new year, your great qualities, your experience and what you are good at and building it up is part of the process, don’t leave anything good behind; get better instead. You want to flourish in the new year because you can help others become better versions of themselves. I believe the best gift I can give to those I love is to become a better version of myself.
- Decide where you are going.
- Find out what you need to bring to that journey and what you want to leave behind.
- The journey is not only for the year; think beyond that.
- You have greatness within you; how will you manifest that this year?
- What do you want to change this year and why?
- Be intentional about it, write a process, measurements and milestones, and join others along the way.