Who wants to be a “Resolutionist”? - Take Back My Day
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Who wants to be a “Resolutionist”?

If your gym is similar to my hometown YMCA, classes and facilities are more crowded in January than at any other time of the year. According to statistics, one third to one half of all Americans make resolutions for the New Year. This will be the year, we tell ourselves, when we will finally get everything under control. Not surprisingly, business has caught on to the trend and reinforces it with ubiquitous promotions of health club memberships, weight loss programs, and dating sites. As bloggers follow suit, the Internet teems with suggestions for 2016, ranging from helpful to ridiculous.

Statistics on follow-through have shown that most resolutions are abandoned within a few weeks, which explains why it is so much easier to find an open treadmill or pool lane at the gym in February. “Resolutionists” typically start out strong and then see their enthusiasm wane as life gets back to normal after the holidays. We typically give up on our resolutions because the goals we have chosen are simply much too big and and not clearly defined.

Business resolutions to “make better use of my time” or to “finally earn more money with my work” may not fare much better, especially if you expect radical changes. Don’t fall for the endless babble about making millions, getting rich quick, or waking up to an inbox full of orders — the odds are not in your favor. Somehow, even the hundredth version of “7 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast” doesn’t offer much help.

We typically give up on our resolutions because the goals we have chosen are simply much too big and and not clearly defined.

…New Year’s resolutions are exactly the wrong way to change our behavior. It makes no sense to try to quit smoking and lose weight at the same time, or to clean the apartment and give up wine in the same month,” wrote Jonah Lehrer in the Wall Street Journal.

Because our willpower is limited, the best and most sustainable resolutions pertain to small changes. Here are some practical ideas for reaching higher in 2016:

  • Find a small habit: The best way to start a new habit is to begin small. One sit-up, repeated daily, is more beneficial than one lengthy run, followed by a week of sitting on the couch. As you practice a new positive habit, try to repeat it frequently, preferably at the same time of day and in the same environment, to make it stick.
  • Find “think time”: Give yourself at least a few minutes every day to let your mind wander. Put away all electronic devices, just for a while, and get outside whenever you can. Then use the resulting ideas and insights to define your intentions.
  • Find motivated people: Make a conscious effort to learn what other people do to stay productive and positive. Where do they gather, and how can you join? Being with people you look up to is a key time investment.

Here is to a productive and successful year 2016! May the wind be always at your back.

(An earlier version of this post appeared on LinkedIn on December 30, 2014)


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