Cancel Your New Year’s Resolutions
Dr. Rick Petronella
Goal-setting is great. We want to better ourselves and our lives. January is a popular time for New Year’s resolutions on our minds and in our sights. The gyms are bursting at the seams. The health food stores have empty shelves. Married couples have a renewed sense of devotion. Family budgets are in place. And, church attendance is high. We are on a mission. Then…February rolls around and swarms of us start dropping like flies and go back to the same old habits. Sound familiar?
But if we are honest: New Year’s resolutions are rarely kept. A few weeks into the new year and you’re left feeling guilty about any resolutions you’ve already broken. That’s an awful way to start your year. We all have a tendency at times to combine our worst patterns of self- destructive behaviors and try to make changes too quickly. This rapidly intensifies, stresses, and challenges us to the point that we cannot do what we set out to do. Can anyone relate?
We all have been there too many times to count. Why do we do this?
I think it has a lot to do with “ALL” or “NOTHING”. These two concepts creep into our minds and make us either ultra-committed to do something or completely apathetic about it. This “all-or-nothing” mentality is toxic and paralyzing, and it sets us up to fail. We can be a sold-out, health-shake-drinking, early-rising, exercise-machine if we put our mind to it. We say “no” to all our favorite foods time and time again…for weeks or months…trying to reach our goals. We tell ourselves that we are ALL IN.
But then… we get tired and bored. Our focus begins to waver. And, then, without even realizing it, we go back to the same old habits. Many of us end up feeling like a total failure.
If we really want Change, what are the requirements to make the changes we want in our lives?
1) Be Fully Committed
We cannot be haphazardly pondering or passively pursuing. Our goals must be seized with fierce and complete commitment. In making changes. those who successfully maintain a vision and a goal do not see these choices as mindless wandering through life, but as a vital battle to be won. Those who win this battle possess three necessary traits and take it upon themselves to live by the following criterion. These are to become your focus of this New Year…
2) Be Honest
Success is built on integrity and honesty. These critical traits become both the starting point and the foundation of a successful plan. Understanding the problem, admitting its depth, and acknowledging the consequences that followed, pushes the start button on your entire process that leads to change. Much of our lack of effort is built on dishonesty. Deception, minimization, denial, and rationalization block one’s mind into a pattern of defeat that keeps us bound and stuck. Honesty breaks this pattern and moves us into change.
3) Take Responsibility
Admitting we have a problem starting to change helps us begin to deal with it. Let go of the injustices of the past and the resentments that may have piled up. Take responsibility to do whatever it takes to create a better life for yourself and the people you love.
Fear demands that you stay the same, but determination allows you to exercise your will, make your own decisions, and change your life.
4. Establish Positive Connections
Stay close to those who support your efforts and distance yourself from those who do not. Being part of a closely connected caring group is one of the best ways to increase overall contentment, build accountability, and establish your goals. Connections with like-minded people offer camaraderie and encouragement. You may need to limit your contact with those who do not support your goals. Belonging to a positive, social network will help you feel understood, accepted, and supported.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
Top 10 Year-End Review Questions for 2021
As the year ends, we begin to mentally prepare for next year. But don’t forget to take time to assess your personal, familial, and professional challenges and accomplishments THIS year. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. What have I accomplished this year? Be specific. Write it all down. Schedule some time to celebrate this!
2. What have I learned this year? What skills did you pick up? What emotional lessons?
3. What got in my way? This is where your work will be next year. Be honest if it was your own self that got in the way.
4. Who contributed to my successes? What can you do to recognize these members of your personal or professional team?
5. What mistakes did I make, and what did I learn from them? Writing these down is a good refresher for what not to do next year. Don’t be afraid to list mistakes. That is how we grow…
6. How was my work consistent with my values? What will you do with the inconsistencies?
7. Where did I not take responsibility? Sometimes this is easier to see with a little distance from the actual event.
8. How did my performance rate? Give yourself a letter grade or a 1-10 score.
9. What do I need to let go of? Doing so can help you move much more lightly into the new year. Relationships? Job change? Guilt?
10. What was missing for me this year? How can you incorporate what was missing into into next year?