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Why Resolutions Don't Work

I want to lose weight.

I want to practice mindfulness, meditation, or yoga.

I want to journal more.

I want to make more money.

I want to keep my house cleaner.

There are various types of new year’s resolutions people make every year. When the new year rolls around, people want to start fresh. It’s a new beginning, a time to change. This concept is a good thing. Growing, changing, and becoming better versions of ourselves is good. But the problem is new year’s resolutions just don’t work. Only 16% of people stick with their resolutions. That means 84% of us don’t keep our resolutions.

There are many reasons for this dismal statistic. Not keeping resolutions is because we have unrealistic expectations, a lack of planning and/or accountability, lack of time or motivation, and the list goes on and on. These are external reasons. However, I believe there are deeper causes.

What is your internal story?

Setting a resolution is about changing something in ourselves. This can translate into thinking that we are not enough. This kind of thinking about ourselves comes from a story that is often deeply rooted in our subconscious mind. We find all kinds of reasons to support this story. And it is this self-talk that guides the ship when making our resolutions. This story is not about a positive, kind narrative. We usually are not saying to ourselves, “I’m an outstanding person and for some unknown reason, I’ve gained an extra 50 pounds. But I can easily change that by eating better and exercising more.” Our story and self-talk are more negative and darker.

Look deeply at this story so you can better understand where it’s coming from, then you can change it. This is what will help keep your resolutions successful.

External Forces

New year’s resolutions are also based on what external forces are telling us we should be. Again, we are looking to the outside world to define us, rather than looking at our true self and making changes based on that definition. Check and make sure that the changes you’re considering are things you really want and not what you believe society is telling you that you should

What’s wrong with me?

Making these changes is often based on what we believe is wrong with us. We feel the need to fix something about ourselves. What if we looked at the things we were doing “right” and implemented changes based on these things? For example, if you want to exercise more, think about the things you enjoy doing. Exercise doesn’t need to mean you go to the gym five times a week. Maybe you enjoy hiking. This could meet your fitness goal. Think about how you can reframe the things you enjoy doing to fit the goal

Fantasy Self

New year’s resolutions are often based on a fantasy self. This is an imagined view of the self. It also includes how a person wants other people to see them. Again, this goes back to not fully valuing and accepting who we are. We may allow this fantasy self to guide our resolutions rather than looking at our true self and accepting that version of who we are.

One way to make gentle, kind changes rather than having a hard resolution is choosing a word of the year to guide you. This isn’t about any specific change, but it moves you in a direction you want to go. My last blog was on this topic and my blog next week will be about my own experiences with choosing a word for the year. I’ll share ways it worked for me and ways it didn’t. Stay tuned.

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