Change without New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions. About half of us make them. Just 8% of people achieve them.

There’s no shortage of advice, much of it scientifically validated on how to set New Year’s resolutions that will stick. All you need to do is; keep it simple and have a purpose, make it specific and measurable, write it down, ask yourself to do it and then use an app to help.

Even ASIC gets in on the advice game. Easy. Done. We’re all set for a successful 2016!

Except I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore. I used to be a committed resolution maker. Some years I’d write a whole list, other times I’d make just one single commitment. Regardless of the strategy or the level of detail in my commitments, goal, the main consistent element each year was hope. Hope that at the strike of midnight on 1 January, I would change. My temporal landmark.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been in the 8%, although that’s not to say I haven’t succeeded in many of my resolutions. It’s just that the change that precipitated success rarely came at the strike of midnight. Success often never even came in the same year as the one I made the resolution in.

Achieving Goals Slowly

In my experience, change has always slowly crept up on me. Never has it announced itself through a grand entrance or at an allotted hour. While in my heart I knew the change that I wished for myself, firstly the time needed to be right. Whether that was because I had the time to focus on the issue or because I was ready to change, the time was critical.

At the right time, I would change my mindset. Maybe it was just a tiny shift. Something that was necessary to precipitate the first action. Mostly, it was about getting out of my own way. I started my exercise habit by finally acknowledging that it was okay to walk, I didn’t need to run. I started to meditate regularly when I allowed myself to take the time out of my morning to do it, ignoring the whisper in my mind telling me it was self-indulgent. I stopped feeling the need to possess everything I liked in the shop window when I started to believe that simply enjoying the moment of seeing it and appreciating it was the most valuable.

Finally free to take action, I generally would especially when my goals coincided with my priorities. I’d always stumble and fail, move erratically towards my goals and often revert to past behaviour. It would always take time, this lifestyle changing process. It’s always taken me much longer than 21 days to change a habit. Yet, change would still come.

One day I would turn around and realise I was no longer at the beginning. The goal that I had longed for had been achieved, I’d changed and my life was better for it. That’s when I stopped making New Year’s resolutions. Not because I’m finished; a perfect human being. I still have goals, my weaknesses still stop me in my tracks, but I make a point to take stock regularly and when I notice a desire for change I’ll ask myself if now is the right moment to do what’s needed.

And now, with the summery days, the quiet city and the holiday vibe in the air, it’s the time to enjoy this imperfect life, just as it is.

So here’s to a successful 2016, whenever success comes.

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