Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (and What to Do Instead)

Why New Year's Resolutions Don't WorkHappy New Year!  I welcome this new year of with open arms and am energized about the possibilities. Yet, whenever someone starts talking about new year resolutions I cringe, the hair on my neck starts to stand up, and my insides want to prepare for battle.  The other day I started the year by attending a women’s networking meeting. As someone started talking about it being the time to get started with those resolutions I wanted to leap from my chair and scream bull!*$?!  Stop playing that mental game with yourself!

Why do I say this?  Well, first let me ask you…

How many years now have you been making resolutions?

How many of those resolutions have been fully realized?

How many of your resolutions for the coming year sound exactly like the resolutions you made last year (and the year before that, and the year before that…)?

If you are truly honest with yourself this whole game of new year’s resolutions has been nothing but a silly game of psychological warfare with yourself perpetuated through the ages, right?  Something you say each year to feel better about yourself (for about a week or two) in an attempt to get motivated around something that you at  least say you want. There is something approximating an 88% failure rate when it comes to resolutions (and many resolutions don’t even make it out of January).  Why is that and why is making resolutions just a silly game in which you set yourself up for failure and feeling bad about yourself?

Get real about why they don’t work with this inner awareness.

Willpower is a Depletable Resource

You cannot willpower your way to any lasting change.  It just isn’t possible.  It is not sustainable. The minute you are fatigued, distracted, or otherwise stressed mentally or physically, willpower goes out the window.  This is why it is so hard to resist all the cookies, donuts, and goodies at the holidays or at work when you’re running on low.  That is why it is hard to resist the pull of distractions (like Facebook, surfing the web, doing the laundry, etc.) when you are supposed to be focused on taking action in your business. Willpower plummets and the quality of your choices goes out the window. Resolutions by their very nature (“resolve”) are based on willpower.

The Bar Is Set Too High

Resolutions tend to sound like sweeping changes and include huge promises that are doomed to failure by their very nature.  Big promises that entail radical changes are usually empty promises.  (Think: political rhetoric) Behavior change and true transformation requires a systematic plan of achievable and sustainable change. I don’t care who you are, you’re unlikely to go from one extreme to the other  whether it is adopting a new work schedule, redesigning your marketing plan, or meeting your income goals.  Give yourself sky’s the limit permission with what you desire and your vision.  Drill down and focus in baby steps as you take action to bring that vision into the here and now.

Goals are One Dimensional

To me goals have been abused, mistreated, and overrated.  We throw them out there like darts at a board. Sometimes we even get really fancy and make SMART goals (don’t even get me started).  The end result?  Often the same…a misunderstood end point that may or may not get you where you want to go and is likely to justify the end at the expense of the means (and your experience along the way). There is a better, more effective way to do this. It involves adding dimension to what you want by getting clear on how you want to feel (so you can navigate by THAT as your compass) and the real  meaning behind your goals.

True Commitment is Lacking

Words and ideas are a dime a dozen.  In general as human beings we blow a lot of hot air with what we say.  It’s what we actually do that matters.  Words are cheap but actions speak loudly.  What you make time for and where you invest your money will give you a very clear picture of your priorities and commitments. Most resolutions are just hot air.

All said, the new year is still a great time to plan, vision, and begin to make the changes you most want to see. It’s just that if you want things to be different you actually have to do differently. Here are a few secrets that will have you putting the screws to resolutions and instead being in the 10% of people who actually will make lasting changes. [Read more…]

Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Plate

Don't Compare Yourself to OthersThis is just plain good advice.  While the inspiration for this article came from a piece I read about athletic training, the principles behind it are relevant for anyone who wants to have peak performance in their business and life in general.   That means you!

Do you find that you spend a lot of time watching, thinking about, or worrying about what someone else is doing?  Such as:

  • Scoping out the “competition”?
  • Watching your colleagues and big name mentors’ every move?
  • Reading yet another how-to, self-help, or advice laden book hoping to find the answers?

If so, it’s time you dropped all that.  Nix the misperception that somehow someone else has all the answers for you.  Stop the distractions that keep you focused on everything and everyone else but yourself and what is right in front of you.

They don’t.  In fact they too may be lurking and trying to avoid facing their own fears and sense of inadequacy by eating off of someone else’s plate as well.

So why does this matter?

What someone else is doing or not doing has no relevance to your life or your goals.

You are unique. Your definition of success is unique. You can’t get there by copying someone else. You can only get there by being authentic and following your own intuitive guidance system.

This doesn’t mean that someone else can’t support you. I do that for my clients all the time. I have people on my own team that do that for me.  The key difference is that I believe in being a catalyst for others, not a savior.  I expect those that support me to bring out the best in me, collaborate with me, not do it for me. [Read more…]

Do You Really Want to Realize Your Dreams?

Realize Your DreamsThis might sounds like a stupid question…but…

Do you really want to realize and experience the things you dream about? The things you say you want? What you’ve been yearning for?

You are probably thinking, “Of course I do! What do you mean?! Why wouldn’t I?”

And, being the ruthlessly compassionate coach I am I’d say again…

Are you sure?

Here’s why I say that…and let me share something I know for sure by way of a story.  I was recently re-listening to a wonderful book of parable called The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. The book is about a young man Santiago and his quest for fortune, his Personal Legend, and the decoding of the Language of the World. It takes place in an unnamed time in the areas of Spain and Egypt. Along his journey, he learns from many wise teachers along the way…humans, animals, and from what they call the omens (which I’d translate to be intuitive hits or guidance from spirit).

During one part of his story he is working at a crystal shop with the owner, a man who has owned this shop his entire life and has many unfulfilled dreams.  The man talk about his dream, like that of many Muslims, is to make a lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca.  He goes on to say he never expects he will actually go and complete the pilgrimage because the time never seems right and how he is too old.

As the discussion continues the man makes the very wise distinction that I wish to share with you today.  And that is – the reason he never wants to complete the pilgrimage is because if he did, then what would he have to live for?  You see, there is a big difference between dreaming the dream and realizing the dream. He only wants to dream the dream because it is what he holds onto.  If he were to realize it, then what?  What would he have left without the dream?  Who would he be then?  What would he have to live for if the dream was suddenly gone (because it was completed)? And so he never takes action toward making his dream a reality.

What do you see in this story?  Does it ring true at all for you?

Ask yourself…do you really want to experience the dreams and goals you say you want?  Do you want them to be a part of your present experience?  Or is the “perpetual and forever just out of reach” promise of the dream what you live on?

There is no right or wrong answer here…just the truth, for you.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with loving the dream more than actually bringing that dream into your actual experience.  Just be clear that it is the fantasy of it that you want, not the actual experience itself.  Then, let yourself off the hook and release the lip service that you give toward actually doing something about it.   [Read more…]

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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