It’s almost 2019, are you excited? Do you have your new years resolutions all ready to go? Surely this year you’ll get it right. Choose just the perfect resolutions that will stick and revolutionize your life. By the end of 2019 you’ll be a whole new you. Thinner, healthier, a better attitude, a nice big savings account, going to the gym a minimum of three times per week, debt free, 1,000 new ketogenic recipes memorized, drinking far less alcohol, more spiritually aware, making quilts by hand for the homeless, kinder to the people around you…
That sounds exhausting! No wonder we struggle to get our resolutions to last even until the end of January. If someone else made the same list of resolutions we do, we would probably think they were crazy. So why do we do it ourselves?
We could throw in the towel on the whole New Year’s resolutions thing. Or we could change what we’re doing so that it actually works. As Narcotics Anonymous famously observed back in 1981, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
Thresholds and Perspective
The threshold of a new year is a great time to rethink our life’s direction and make some adjustments, but when your adjustments never seem to stick, it sure does get frustrating!
Let’s talk about mountain climbing for a moment. Scattered across the world, but particularly concentrated in the Rocky Mountains here in North America, are fourteeners—mountains that are 14,000 feet tall or taller. As you can imagine, climbing a fourteener is quite a project! To avoid the wind and weather that usually picks up in the afternoon, climbers typically start hiking before the sun is even up. They can’t see where they’re going, they have to trust the signs during this part of the journey. ‘Trail starts here ->.’ ‘Left at the fork to summit <-.’
But once the sun comes up, they can see their way to the top, right? Nope, they’re surrounded by trees and following a trail that winds all over the place. All the sudden, at about 12,000 feet, the trees stop and the climbers can finally see where they are going. But at that point, the nice trail they’ve been following disappears and they are left picking their way through a blinding snow field, a tumbled mass of boulders, or shale that slides as they walk on it. In other words, they have to watch their feet.
When a person is watching their feet and looking for the next safe step, they can very easily veer off course. If they don’t look up every few minutes and reorient themselves to the peak above them, they can end up adding frustrating hours to their journey.
The Moral of the Story
The trick to forming new year’s resolutions that you will actually live out is to use them to make slight adjustments to your course. You know where you want your life to end up, and in general, you should be on track for that. The threshold of a new year is a perfect time to look up and check your trajectory. Are the steps you’re taking going to get you to your summit? Resolutions are tweaks to the daily course you’re already hiking. Slight adjustments, not total about-faces.
Here are some good basic guidelines for setting resolutions you will live up to:
- Make smaller resolutions, as discussed above.
- Make SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
- Write your goals down. People who write down their goals are 120-140% more likely to fulfill them.
- Talk about your resolutions with other people. Accountability helps us follow through.
- Check your course. Look up from what you’re doing once in a while and make sure you’re headed where you want to go. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge a setback and readjust your direction. That’s how you will arrive where you want to be.
- Celebrate! When you achieve one of your measurable steps, celebrate your success. You’ve intentionally changed your life and deserve recognition for doing that.
Your summit is ahead of you. Align yourself with it and keep moving. You will succeed. And just so you know, the view from the top is incredible and worth every step it takes to get there!