How are your resolutions holding up?
Studies show that 80 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions abandon them by February 14.
I’m not in that 80%. First, I don’t make New Years resolutions. Second, when I do make resolutions, I succeed 100% of the time.
Celebrating 100 Days of Publishing
Today marks my 100th consecutive day of publishing to my blog. It’s the latest in a stack of daily rituals that I’ve built since 2013, when I stopped hitting the snooze button and started my Fitness First practice.
Since then, I’ve built other practices, including meditation, journaling, and daily writing, as well as weekly and monthly rituals.
Although I now have a clear process for integrating a new behavior, that system has come to light only through a lot of trial and error.
If you’re in the 80% already falling off track, you are in good company. The truth is that you likely set yourself up to fail.
I’ve learned a lot about behavior change through my personal experience and helping clients create their own sustainable daily practices.
Here are 5 reasons why you are likely falling off track in your efforts to change your behavior.
(1) You did not resolve
Quite simply, most people don’t stick to their resolutions not because they fail in their commitment or discipline, but because they don’t resolve.
A resolution is the act or process of resolving.
Resolve originates in the Latin re- + solvere = to loosen or release. You are releasing the other options.
To resolve means to deal with successfully, to clear up.
Resolve means to make a firm decision about something.
When you decide you cut off the other options.
When you resolve a decision, you finalize it. There is no going back. All other options are no longer available. When you truly resolve, you commit for life.
Anything other than that is not a resolution.
If you’ve dropped your resolution, ask yourself whether you truly resolved a decision to change.
(2) You made it too complex
Another meaning of resolve is to break something up into its simple elements.
A resolution simplifies complex things into simple things. In music, resolution takes something from dissonance to consonance.
This may be my 100th consecutive day of publishing, but it took over 4 years of stacking smaller changes to create this practice.
This practice, specifically, is about publishing. Not writing. Not SEO. Not promoting my articles. It’s simply about hitting publish.
(3) You tried to do too much
A resolution done right is a big deal. When you actually resolve something, you create a new standard for yourself. It takes time to integrate the new standard into your life.
What I learned from my experience is that trying to implement too many changes at once, or changes that are too big, will short circuit your system and lead to failure.
For both myself and my clients, I focus on small, sustainable changes.
(4) You picked the wrong behavior
Sequence and order matter more than you think. It’s not enough to pick one behavior to change. That first change must be the right change.
Behavior change is complex; if you start with the wrong behavior, you are facing an even harder battle in the fight for traction.
Before I got traction with my Fitness First ritual, I tried to start my day with meditation practice. It left me demotivated to exercise. When I put my fitness first, everything changed. Now meditation is locked in after the gym.
Keep in mind that the “right” first behavior is the one that is right for you. Each person has a different sequence.
(5) You started at the wrong time
Timing is everything. If you want to photograph a sunset, you’re not going to have much success if you’re trying to do it in the morning, no matter how committed you are. To get results, you must do the right thing at the right time
“New Year’s Resolutions” may be a popular thing to do, but January 1 is typically not the right time to start new things. The energetics of nature don’t support change at this time of year. It’s mid-season, a time for deepening into current practices, not creating new ones.
Tip: Engage in Self-Compassion
If you’ve fallen off-track with your resolutions, show yourself some compassion.
Whether you want to break sabotaging habits or create new, empowering habits, creating sustainable behavior change is hard.
Cut yourself some slack and remember that you can always start over.
If you have fallen off track in your resolution, which of these reasons is the likely culprit? Share in the comments.
When you’re trying to change long-embedded habits, it helps to have the support and guidance of someone who has walked the path. This spring, I’ll be sharing my proven system for creating behavior changes that stick.