Around this time of year, everyone is running around like crazy. Parties to attend, work deadlines to meet before the holidays, family obligations, and spending an inordinate amount of time online shopping for the perfect gift! Stop with the madness already!
Maybe it’s a bit early to talk about New Year’s resolutions, but imma do it anyway!
When all this Christmas stuff is over, we get to set up new expectations in the new year of all the bad habits we want to break or all the new habits we’d like to start. We want to lose weight, eat more vegetables, stop drinking alcohol or quit smoking. Or there could be more interesting goals like save money for a vacation, buy a new house, travel abroad, or change careers.
According to the stats, only 8% of people ever successfully achieve their new year’s resolutions.
That’s because we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. Each of the goals listed above is quite lofty in its own way. How do we keep the momentum once the buzz of the holidays has worn off? Do you feel withdrawal from cutting out sugar or caffeine? After a few weeks you’re cranky, hungry, and agitated. What chance of manifesting success do you really have?
How many diets and weight loss plans have I started and regrettably ended because I lost my willpower? Dozens of times in the last 20 years. The featured image I chose for this blog is how I and other gym rats always scoff at the New Year’s “resolution-ers” hitting the gym as of January. Every gym regular knows those people who are attempting to make it based on willpower will most certainly fail by the end of March. Then we don’t have to wait for our favourite machines anymore and the fitness classes become more roomy again! Yaaassssss!
The best advice on achieving goals I ever got was from reading one of those free books you get with a GoodLife gym membership when you sign up. In Living the Good Life: Your Guide to Health and Success, David-Patchell Evans writes about how “good enough is good enough”. He says perfection is something that no one should be striving to achieve on a day to day basis. You are more likely to give up your goals or get burnt out over the long-term. Making smaller incremental changes that become a part of your life are the best way to have them become a permanent part of your life.
There’s going to be days or weeks where you’ll fall off the wagon, but that’s ok. You have to brush yourself off and try again.
Instead of aiming for new year’s resolutions to start making changes in your life, why not start now? Each day I do something small to work towards manifesting my goals. I want to be debt-free and have financial freedom. So I read a lot of books and articles on how to do that. I don’t do it for hours, but just enough to get a couple new ideas into my brain.
I listened to a podcast by Tony Robbins this morning where he spoke about the entrepreneur mindset. Robbins believes that 80% of success comes from thought while 20% comes from mechanics. Tons of books have been written on the subject of changing your thinking. Fear, which is a construct of our brain, holds people back from executing the tough stuff. Maybe instead of taking giant leaps forward all the time, we just need to take baby steps and get closer to our dreams.
We need to give ourselves a break from being our worst critics.
It’s hard to achieve a goal and one should be praised for getting it. Why is a reaching a goal worthy of praise? People forget how hard the journey itself is. The journey is where we learn how to be the best parts of ourselves, through the learning and the mistakes. We survive somehow. It doesn’t make you weak if you don’t succeed at something. The fact that you tried anything at all should demonstrate how strong you are. And if you dust yourself off and try again, you are even stronger for doing so.
Success is 99 percent failure.
So instead of making a list of unrealistic new year’s resolutions that you may achieve a little but then give up on by March, maybe just tell yourself that you aren’t going to make them anymore. I haven’t made new year’s resolutions in years because I think they are a waste of time and energy. I’d rather just go on impulse and do whatever I want no matter what time of year it is.
I bought a guitar at the beginning of December 2016 and want to learn how to play it. Doesn’t mean I’ll succeed but I’m going to give it a go. I tried to learn by watching YouTube videos but quickly realized that my fingertips weren’t hitting the strings or frets correctly and my posture was completely off. The strumming didn’t sound right either. Rather than learning how to play badly without one-on-one instruction, I just figured I’d pay someone to teach me.
Like everyone else, I figured that it was cheaper and just as good to try something on my own. But unlike everyone else, I didn’t give up when I didn’t get it. I changed my mindset to accept that I am not a guitar teacher and I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s better I hire a professional to save me time and energy!
In my first lesson, my instructor helped me loosen the grip on my hands. He watched me and taught me how to make it feel natural playing chords and strumming the guitar. I wouldn’t have learned these tricks on my own. I’m not the expert. Just check out the hundreds of ads on Kijiji where people have written that they bought the guitar on a whim and only ended up playing it a couple times because life got in the way. Basically, for the people who didn’t want to invest in the journey, they gave up.
It doesn’t matter to me that I become an expert at the guitar. I want to play it as a stress reliever because I’ve always loved music. When I was a child, I learned to play a variety of instruments (accordion, harmonium, sitar, clarinet and saxophone) and I remember how good it felt to play a song. When I was 17, I stopped playing the saxophone because I hated band practice!
So why did I quit music if I loved it so much? I used to force myself to practice at least an hour and I absolutely loathed it. Knowing what I know now, it was a mistake to make my practice sessions so long to the point that I hated practice at the end of it. I thought I was being disciplined and everyone else in band was practicing at least an hour a day (or so I thought). Unfortunately, it made me hate playing music so much that I ended up quitting it for almost 20 years.
Now when I practice the guitar, I don’t practice for an hour. I practice until my fingers start to hurt too much and then I stop. That’s maybe 20-30 mins at a time, and sometimes even less. As I build up the calluses, I know I’ll play longer. My goal is just to play what I learned quicker and better than when I started the practice. If I achieve that, I stop when I reach my high point. It leaves me with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that I’m farther now than I was before. Good enough is good enough.
How many of you reading this were musicians, dancers, athletes once and have given up because the practice schedule felt overwhelming to you and now you have given it up permanently?
It’s always a good idea to invest in yourself and work towards personal development.
Sometimes you have to fight yourself against yourself too. Your inner critic is always waiting for you to fail so why not shut him/her up by changing your mindset? Push out the negative thoughts and pull in the positive ones. It’s easier said than done and takes practice. But that’s the Law of Attraction and manifestation for you!
Forget Monday or New Year’s Day. Start your goals today. Don’t think in terms of calendars anymore.
Here are some journalling prompts in case you are thinking about goal setting now:
- What goals are you trying to achieve?
- What have you started and given up on?
- Why did you give up?
- Was there anything you’ve stuck to long-term?
- What made you stick with something longer than another goal you gave up on quickly?
In the meantime, what is your advice for those of us trying to stick to our goals: resolutions or otherwise? Have you successfully stuck to a new year’s resolution? Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know!