New Year’s Day finds many people making New Year’s resolutions. Yet, it is well known that most of those resolutions will go unfulfilled. Efforts to lose weight, stop smoking, meditate more and spend more quality time with the family fade all too soon. Radio announcers even joke that if you wait until just a few weeks into January, there will be plenty of space in the gym as resolutions to exercise decline.
There can be many reasons why well-intended efforts at self-improvement go awry. I believe a key reason is that there is insufficient resolve in the resolutions. People choose things they think they should change; not things they are really committed to making happen.
Stages of Change theory teaches that after Pre-contemplation (denial that there is a problem), comes Contemplation (weighing the benefits and risks of changing) and then Preparation (where a decision is made that the rewards outweigh the costs of changing). The problem I consistently see is that there is no resolve, no commitment behind the decision. To change a well established pattern it takes a firm commitment to make it happen “no matter what”.
Many people jump right into the Action phase and start changing the overt behavior. They skip the all important step of really putting a resolve behind their resolution. This makes New Years’ resolutions more like wish lists. Not surprising, the hoped for change doesn’t happen for long.
To increase the chance of being successful with a New Year’s resolution, take the time to explore if you are really committed to making the change happen or are just half-heartedly listing something you think you should do. When you put the resolve in your resolution, you will greatly increase your chance of success.