According to Wikipedia, the ancient Babylonians were the first to record kicking the year off with resolutions by making promises to their gods. The Romans continued the tradition by making promises to their god, Janus (for whom the month of January is named.) Making resolutions at the fresh start of a year continued during the medieval era and by, the end of the Great Depression about a quarter of American adults practiced the custom.
Surveys and studies confirm a very low success rate for those who set New Year’s resolutions. We often find the same people setting the same goals year after year and still failing. We browbeat ourselves and our peers with discouragement like, “Where’s your willpower? Toughen up, force yourself to do better!” We grit our teeth, tighten our spines and slug our way through the obligation. If we succeed, we are not always happy and sometimes find the success short-lived.
Habits and impulses do not change and are not conquered by determined resolutions, promises or bullying. When our commitments or goals feel like a fight or a battle, then we set ourselves up for internal hostility, conflict and loss.
Time for a revolution! Change the focus of force by “willpower” to “I will power.” Switch from “I won’t” to “I will.” Substitute the positive for the negative. Commit to a goal because you will find joy in the journey and love the reward.
Recognize that attaining a goal is a process of hard work. Face it and accept that when you try to change your ethics, a lifestyle or life-long habits, there are no miracles, quick fixes or phone applications that will get you an end result without effort and action.
Soul search and know that your goal is truly your goal. Own it. Create your resolution by discerning whether it originates from your desire or someone else. Where does your choice come from and what pressures are giving rise to change? What good will result from sticking with a plan to succeed?
No matter what your goal, take small bites and chew slowly. Avoid the trap of working on all your issues with all your energy at once. Think Thoroughbred vs. Quarter Horse. A quarter horse mentality will expend too much effort in the first stretch, leaving you depleted and wishing you had paced yourself like a thoroughbred that has stamina and endurance to get to the finish line.
Timing is everything. When you are ready to make a commitment, you will find the desire, the strength and the “I will power” to take the steps needed that guide you to achievement. Fresh starts are not exclusive to a new year; they can begin anytime, anywhere, and any place, even today.
Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 15 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.