We love the idea of “New Year, New Me.” Well, some of us do. According to YouGov 21% of us will set a New Year’s Resolution this year, but the vast majority of us will fail. Within a week 21% of people will have already given up on their NYR. So, is there anything you can do to help keep it up? Of course there is, and that’s what I aim to tell you via this blog post.
Keep It Simple
The problem with NYRs is that they’re often overly ambitions. People set the unattainable target of going to the gym 5 times a week, never eating junk food again, or pursuing a career ambition with no clear objective in mind. Drastic change in our lifestyle is met with drastically felt Resistance.
Remember, this is a resolution to take into the whole year, you don’t need to achieve it within the first two weeks. It’s about instilling habits that will hopefully stay with you. Why not try to start off a little smaller, and merely cut down on what you already do, or go to the gym just once a week, and just take it from there.
You’re Going to Have to Beat Resistance
What’s Resistance, and why is it capitalised? Ask Steven Pressfield. But you already know Resistance. It’s been with you your whole life, you’ve just either not realised it’s there, or you’ve given it a different name.
But Resistance is what convinces us to quit anything that gives us long-term growth, health or integrity, and instead seeks immediate gratification. It’s our more primal instincts defeating our higher nature. In essence, it’s what tells us to quit. It gives us excuses, it tells us we’re not good enough, it tells us that no one cares and its negative energy field will pulverise all our hopes and dreams if we let it.
I think Resistance is more prevalent in modern society than at any other time in our history. We’re people always looking to seek that immediate gratification. When you refresh that Twitter feed, when you just want to eat that little bit of mouth pleasure that a donuts gives you, when you want to aimlessly sit in front of the television for hours on end. It’s human entropy, and it’s destroying so many people without them even noticing.
If you start a NYR, you’ll hear Resistance. It will give you every excuse in the book to eventually fall out of practice and give up your pursuit.
Make It a Resolution, Not a Goal
Some people decide that their New Year’s Resolution is something along the lines of hitting a certain weight. But that’s a goal. A NYR is something that will change your habits, your lifestyle, or a part of your personality that eventually leads to change in other areas. If you want to lose weight, then your resolution would be something like eat less takeaway, exercise more frequently, cook more homemade food. Remember, you are trying to make a lifestyle choice, not hit a target and then give up.
Don’t Fear Failure
Chances are, you’re not going to stick to this goal. Depending on the research you read, there’s either a roughly 90% chance you’ll fail, or a 50% chance (even if that was self reported), it all depends on who’s research you want to side with. Either way, chances are, this time next year, you won’t be doing this new thing that you want to embark on.
But you shouldn’t fear that failure. There is nothing wrong with failing. I do it all the time, and every time I do, I learn something new, get back on and keep going.
Chances are, you will waiver slightly on this resolution, but that doesn’t mean you’re done. Missed going to the gym for two weeks? Yes, it’s very easy to keep the momentum going in a negative direction. It’s the easiest choice you can make. But all you have to do is go that one time again and the momentum shifts back in a positive direction.
How Do I Stick to My Resolution?
Do you really want to know how to stick to your resolution? It’s actually quite simple:
Just Show Up
Do you think it’s not as easy as that? Well you’re wrong, and in fact, you’re already doing it. You probably do it the majority of the week, and you’re going to keep on doing it for quite some time. It’s called our jobs. Every day when we are due into work, we show up. Unless we’re physically or mentally unable to perform, we show up. We don’t give an excuse of “but I’m not very good”, or “maybe I’ll do it tomorrow.” No. We show up no matter what.
You need to treat this new resolution as if it was your job. Even if you don’t want to sit at the desk and write, scrape the ice off the car to go to the gym or cook that healthy meal when Just Eat has already been opened up. You owe it to yourself to actually do it. And now that you know what’s telling you not to do it, you can look at Resistance directly in the face and say “not today.”
Even now I’m feeling resistance. There’s a part of me saying “why are you writing this, no one cares?” Every now and then I feel like pressing CTRL+A and delete. But I’m not going to. I understand what’s happening, and I know that it’s just resistance telling me to give up. I get it all the time with this blog as it’s a creative pursuit, but I just have to ignore it.
If I give up this time, then what’s stopping me from doing the same thing next time? My resolution for the year, not that I really have one, is to keep on writing. To show up every week and write something. Do I know what it will be, or will I always want to do it? The answer is no, to both. But here I am. And here I will be this time next year. For today, I have beaten Resistance.
Thank you for reading this. Some of what I’ve talked about here is inspired by Steven Pressfield’s amazing book The War of Art. It helped changed my life. And if some of what you have read here sparks an interest in you, then feel free to buy this book here.