New Years Resolutions – A Waste of Time or the Start of a New Beginning

I always find the week between Christmas and New Year is a bit of a no man’s land.

The festive balloon that had been hyped to full capacity from sometime in August when the first Christmas cards started to appear in the shops has deflated – rather more rapidly than previous years (or is that just me?)

Next year is still somewhere in the future and doesn’t really exist yet and with only a couple of days left before the next party, it hardly seems worth starting anything.

So I feel like I am in limbo which according to the Oxford English Dictionary is “an intermediate state of condition awaiting decision”.

I am sure I am not the only one feeling this way and I am pretty confident over the years, many others have felt the same way too.

Of course I can’t prove that but please go with me on this one as the next statement in this post sort of rests on this premise…

Perhaps this is why our forefathers used this time for introspection and reflection on the deeds of the past year and how the next 12 months could be even better…

And so the New Year’s Resolution was born.

Ok lets get past the dreary stuff and rather long winded introduction to a topical and timely subject and face the facts.

It is December, in a few days it will be January.

Of course straddling that annual monthly changeover between the two coldest months of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere anyway) are the antics of the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

One of which is the setting of our New Year’s resolution.

Do a quick search on “New Year’s Resolutions” in google and you will get a raft of articles (like this one) about the topic.

As I write this it on the last Sunday of the year you can expect every newspaper published today will have something about this annual dabbling with temporary goal setting.

The “top ten” format is a popular one and so just from a quick scan of the interweb here are a handful of these classic lists for you:

Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions – A Collection
1. Lose Weight and get fit
2. Stick to a budget
3. Debt Reduction
4. Quality time with family
5. Find my soul mate
6. Quit Smoking
7. Find a better job
8. Learn something new
9. Volunteer and help others
10. Get Organised

1. Spend time with loved ones
2. Get fit
3. Lose weight
4. Stop smoking
5. Enjoy life more
6. Stop drinking
7. Get out of Debt
8. Learn something new
9. Be more charitable
10 Re-organise my life

1. Get a better job
2. Get into shape
3. Spend less/pay off debt
4. Give up a bad habit
5. Get a better education
6. Find a mate
7. Take a trip
8. Be more organised
9. Find a hobby
10. Buy a house or move

You can see these are quite general but across the lists there is a degree of consistency and if you have not set some of these yourself I am sure you know people who have.

Of course New Year’s Resolutions need not be confined to the general.

A deeper search on the topic reveals top ten New Year’s Resolutions that include recommendations for some of Chicago’s top athletes, Scientists’ top ten (#1 is to protect Americans from unsafe drugs, toys and products) and financial resolutions (mmm editors jumping on the credit crunch bandwagon again!).

Breaking Your New Year’s Resolutions

Now I am sure we don’t mean to do it, and I am convinced we all set out with the best of intentions but let’s be honest with each other here – how many times have you set a resolution and find you have broken it?

I hold my hand up to that one too and I think just about every year I have done the make and break dance, probably with pretty much every resolution you can see on those lists above.

Apart from the “lose weight” one – I am proud to be blessed with a lean and slender physique and if any of you decide to call me skinny I shall ban you for life 🙂

If you do conduct your own search for New Year’s resolution tips, in addition to finding lots of “top ten” lists you will also find plenty of articles about how to prevent yourself from breaking them.

So why do we break them?

There are many reasons it could be and it will be different for each person but if I reflect back on my own experiences I would say that each resolution has been an ideal – a wish.

They are usually made in the throes of Auld Langs Ayne with little thought to their relevance or impact on my life beyond the “well it would be nice if ….”

So what I have done is superficial goal setting at the very best and at worst tentative and impulsive wishful thinking.

Creating Better New Year’s Resolutions – Ones You Are More Likely to Keep

What can we do about it then?

We could look at the whole goal setting thing and explore how to set better goals but I think there is something more fundamental that we can do to help us make and keep better New Year’s Resolutions.

As I have reflected back on my own experiences of setting and achieving goals in my personal and professional lives, I have noticed that the more relevant to my current situation the goals were, the more likely I achieved them.

What do I mean by that?

Well of course getting into better shape and improving my fitness is always going to be a good idea, but I need to take into account what my exercise preferences are, just how fit (or not) I am right now and what opportunities I can use to assist me in the process.

The closer I can align the changes I desire through the setting of a New Year’s resolution to my current situation the better the quality of that resolution.

Whilst we can make huge changes in the way we do things, such radical instantaneous adjustments are rare.

So the better understanding we have of the incremental steps needed to keep that resolution, and the closer that first step is to where we are right now, the more likely we are to keep it.

And it all starts with a high level of self awareness and introspection.

As I started to look at my own resolution setting I turned to the advice of Internet business guru and coach Rich Shefren.

I am currently part of Rich’s business coaching programme and his wisdom extends beyond just the nuts and bolts of building a multi-million dollar business.

Whilst watching Rich on his most recent live coaching session he was talking about the difference between success and failure and suggested that the New Year is a great time to reassess where you are and where you want to be.

For the last few years Rich has carried out exactly the same process to get his mind in gear for focussing on making the impending New Year his most successful yet.

5 Questions To Guarantee New Year Resolution Success

He asks himself these 5 questions at the end of every year and uses his answers to help shape his New Year:

What were my greatest accomplishments of the last year?
What were my biggest disappointments of the last year?
How did I limit myself in the last year and how can I stop that?
What did I learn from these last three questions?
How can I use this information to make the next year unrivalled?

By giving himself the gift of this feedback, he is able to quickly identify what is working for him and continue doing more of that as well as putting his finger on the shortcomings that have held him back.

The output from this exercise is a better understanding and realisation of where he is right now and what he needs to do to move himself forward but more importantly what he needs to stop doing or change that has been holding him back.

You might want to see these questions in action on Rich’s blog amd how he answered them for his 2007 New Year and 2008 New Year.

I am a firm believer in modelling what successful people do (if you want the results they have achieved) and so I shall be sitting down with my journal this afternoon and working through those questions myself to help set up my 2009 to be my best year yet.

Not only will I get my 2009 on track before it has begun, but I am pretty sure when it comes to midnight on Wednesday, the quality and longevity of my New Year’s Resolution will be far superior.

So go get a piece of paper and a pen, find a quite place and work through those questions to see what comes up.

I can guarantee that your New Year’s Resolution setting will be much better because of you new found realisations and who know’s, this year might be the first year you stick with them?

Let me know how you get on with this and what differences it made to your New Year by leaving me a comment below.

P.S. Keep your eye on the blog over the next week as I will share with you some other proven techniques to helping you stick with your resolutions.