As I ease into another New Year, I find myself questioning the whole New Year, New Me phenomenon.
Daily, January conversations with friends, family and colleagues invariably includes an update on how their current “thing” is going.
Whether it’s giving up smoking, detoxing, the latest diet, new exercise regime or a whole new approach to life, January is full of what we see as pledges of good intentions, which in reality, all too often end in failure.
Why is this?
New Year’s resolutions have become almost as obligatory as the fairy on top of the Christmas tree.
What’s curious to me, is why January 1st?
We always feel a sense of safety in numbers, so it may come as some kind of consolation that the custom of making changes at New Year is not just a modern invention driven by the media, it’s actually deeply steeped in history. We’re following a custom that originated in pre-Christian times. Saying that, the Romans kept things much simpler and resolutions were typically made based on a moral compass, like just being good to others.
Post Christianity, it took on the more familiar form of fasting. The puritans took the opportunity at New Year to reflect on the past year and contemplate the year ahead, making commitments to “better employ their talents”, “treat their neighbours with charity” and “avoid their habitual sins”. Old English language aside, starting to sound even more familiar? Indeed, in the 21st Century, these could easily translate into setting career goals, giving back to your local community and stop smoking or eating chocolate. I’m not sure we’ve evolved that much at all!
The high failure rate of resolutions set at New Year also, in my mind, suggests a lack of commitment to the course of action. Gyms around the country will be bursting at the seams this month with new members seeking the body beautiful, but statistics suggest upwards of £37 million is wasted by Brits, every year, on unused gym memberships, equipment and slimming clubs. Visit any gym at the end of February and it’s a very different story to six weeks earlier. How fickle a species are we?
If you determine you need to do something differently or stop/start doing something, why wait until a prescribed date? Why wouldn’t you just make the required change from the moment you made the determination that you should?
Make the conscious choice, if you will, and go out there and make it happen.
With life as busy as it is, many of us feel that we need to make changes but struggle to implement the change. Putting things off until times such as New Year arrive and then half-heartedly embarking on a journey, essentially doomed from the outset. We’re at risk of becoming obsessed with the excitement of the pledge, “I’m going to do this”, “From next Monday, I’m stopping this” with little or limited implementation. The adrenaline rush coming from an hour in Sweaty Betty and the purchasing of head to toe designer workout gear, as opposed to the endorphin release of a bloody good workout.
If we make the time to explore the action required or understanding the WHY, qualify what success looks like or the emotional vision and share our intent or advertise it,couldn’t and shouldn’t we, just do it….whatever month it is?
The understanding the WHY, will allow the weeding out of fads, the sheep mentality that has us doing things simply because others are or we just kind of feel like it’s a good idea. Rather than, “I’m only going to eat green stuff”, asking why? What are the benefits? Is it practical? Is it my priority?
The emotional vision, allows us to see what success will look and feel like and supports our motivation, the body beautiful, better relationships, feeling healthier. It becomes tangible and allows us to have our eyes on a prize.
Advertise it by sharing your intent, creating a learning counsel and encouraging people to hold you to account. This will help keep us focused and encouraged, particularly when we waver.
I bet most of us have played our part in the annual £37 million wasted spend, I know I have. I too have missed other opportunities to do or be better and by the time New Year rolls round, it’s too late to have the desired effect. Time passes quickly and is therefore of the essence. This year I will be taking action.
My only resolution for this year is to make changes as I identify the need, whatever the date.