Why You Suck at Making New Year Resolutions

It’s the time of year to take stock of the previous 12 months.

We reflect on personal achievements, failures and what the following 12 months may bring.

How many of you will set New Year resolutions?

Most of us will form some type of commitment, something to enhance our lives, in the coming weeks.

We will go back into the office full of enthusiasm.

We will tell people about our New Year resolutions. We will tell people how fabulous we will look on the beach. How we are going to make more time for friends or how we will finally finish that reading list.

There’s just one tiny little issue with broadcasting your New Year resolutions…

You will rarely achieve them.

New Year Resolutions

You Suck at Making Resolutions

Your desire to achieve any New Year resolution is often dead and buried, before you have even started.

Why do so many gym memberships end up being discarded?

Why do so many books end up on the shelf unread?

Why do we get to the end of the year and wish we had connected more?

The mistake you are making, is telling everyone about it.

The brain is complex.

By telling people about your New Year resolution, you are tricking your brain into thinking it has achieved it (or at least part achieved it) already.

Think about conversations you’ve had in the past.

You tell someone about your goal/resolution and you get a lovely pat on the back from your friend or colleague.

‘Ooh, well done. I don’t think I would have the discipline to read 12 books in a year – Go, you!’

Kinda feels nice, huh? Like you’ve almost achieved something without even picking up a book.

Hey, this New Year resolution game is easy!

New Year Resolutions

Good and Gooey

As humans we crave attention, praise and validation.

When we get a pat on the back the brain releases chemicals.

These chemicals make us feel good and gooey about ourselves. You relax a little, basking in the glory of what you have achieved and…

Hang on a second, you’ve not even picked up the first book or read the blurb on the back!

This ‘pat on the back’ syndrome is deadly when setting New Year resolutions in January.

The alternative is quite simple.

Make the resolution, set the goal and don’t tell anyone – not even your best friend.

Studies show you are far more likely to achieve what you want by keeping it a secret.

I know this will be hard for many people, myself included, but you can make it happen – if you so chose.

I’ll give you a personal example.

in 2015 my team had a monthly focus at work. Each month would represent a particular value.

The theme for my month was ‘positive.’

It was down to me what I did and how I chose to promote this particular value across the Department.

I created a schedule of activity focused on positivity. This included visuals, sharing older blog posts and a focus on colleagues thanking each other daily.

I kept something back, only for me, something I did not tell anyone else about.

My goal was to have a positive frame of mind, every day, with every person or situation I dealt with.

If you have ever tried this you will know how exhausting this can be.

We subconsciously make judgments. We pre-determine outcomes and focus on the negative, without even realising.

To flip your mentality is challenging, but incredibly rewarding.

I actually felt better about myself. I was having a positive impact on those around me. I was also going home feeling I had achieved more.

I told no one about it.

If I told someone about it I would have experienced the ‘pat on the back’ syndrome.

I would have received the attention, the praise and validation we all crave.

New Year Resolutions

Tricking Your Brain

If you are thinking about a New Year resolution for this year then tackling it differently is key to success.

Instead of sharing the resolution do something different.

Write the resolution down, place it in an envelope and seal it.

Studies show that writing down your New Year resolution is a powerful way of achieving.

In effect you are making a contract with yourself and your brain. Your brain starts working out how it can achieve the goal. It even does this when you are not thinking about the goal, deep in the recess of the subconscious.

It is incredible to think the brain works in a completely different way, depending on whether you tell someone about your goal, or if you write a letter to yourself.

Put the envelope somewhere safe and open it on a date of your choosing.

If you want to take it a step further then ask a friend to look after the envelope. Make it clear they are not to open the envelope and the contents are a secret!

I applaud your desire to want to improve and to be better than you were last year.

Make this year different. Don’t allow the your desire to fizzle out by February/March/April.

Secrets often have negative connotations.

This is a secret worth keeping and one that can deliver the change you have been looking for.

Happy 2017!

Believe and take action.

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Ian Ruane

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  1. January 1, 2016

    Love this, I have written my five resolutions down and are securely in a sealed envelope. Thanks for the tip!

    • January 1, 2016

      Great to hear and glad you enjoyed it. I look forward to you sharing everything you achieve – once you have achieved it, of course! Have a wonderful 2016.

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