This Year Resolve to Never Make Another New Year’s Resolution

I hereby resolve…blah…blah…blah… The best New Year’s resolution is to never make another one. They rarely work, and tying them to the New Year ensures they never will.

One researcher says eighty-eight percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. Solid research on dieting shows that only five percent of dieters keep their weight off. Even worse, up to eighty-three percent gain back more weight than they lose.

So what’s going on here? What do the five percent who are successful know that we don’t? Why do we keep making resolutions that have almost no chance of success?


Later, Dude…

A New Year’s Resolution is focused on putting things off we know need to change, until that special day called “New Years Day”. Somehow waiting to do it until then make us think we can make it stick, when in fact, the act of putting it off until New Year’s Day tells us up front we’re not serious, or we would take action today.

Even worse, now that you’ve announced you will quit “later”, your self-destructive behavior is actually permissible to “get it out of your system”. Get your glutton on or smoke like a chimney for another week, because soon you’ll be in the forsaken and tortured desert of Good Living.

Getting Ready to Get Ready to…

Here’s a clue—the more you need to point to January 1 as the day “I will absolutely start or stop doing x”, the less you probably mean it. If it’s important, change now. If you have to walk on coals or chant at your vision board to prepare for the big day, you can save yourself some self-imposed guilt and just keep going with what’s not working.

My mother used to tell me, “Chuck, there’s no such thing as excuses, there’s not even reasons, there are just priorities.” She lived that out well, making no excuses and simply doing the things she found important. She didn’t live to make decisions on special days; she just did what she valued.

How to Change Something

We do what is a priority, not what we say is a priority. Here’s a better way to change something you don’t like about yourself:

1) Don’t “get motivated” Most of this walk-on-coals stuff is emotion-based and has no lasting power. You’re either committed or you aren’t. I don’t get motivated to brush my teeth. I either do it or I don’t.

2) Run toward something, not away from something. This is the most important thing you can do to change something. Over 90% of severe heart attack victims return to their previous lifestyle within two years, no matter how much “fear of death” the doctors put in front of them. But Dr. Dean Ornish designed a program for them focused solely on the “joy of living” and fully 77% of his heart attack patients permanently changed their lifestyles!

“I want to stop being fat,” is running away from being fat. “I see myself living a great lifestyle,” is running toward something. Run toward a great life, not away from being fat.

3) Make decisions through a new lens. See yourself and/or your business AS IF YOU WERE ALREADY THERE. Read my Inc. column on The Two Most Important Business Words You’ve Never Heard to see how Peter Arnell went from 406 lbs. to 150 lbs. and stayed there permanently. He saw himself at 150lbs and made every decision with that mindset. If you can’t already clearly envision yourself exercising three times a week (or whatever you think you are “resolving”), don’t even start.

4) Diligence, not Discipline—Anybody can have the discipline to do something for 30 days. But few people will have the diligence to continue for the rest of the year. Diligence is a drip system. Do the right thing a little bit every day—it will add up to something big down the road. Diligence rules; discipline drools.

The above four steps are all about intentionality vs. hope. Intention is the key because:

You get what you intend, not what you hope for.

New Year’s Resolutions are full of emotion-based “hope”. Real decisions are full of intention and don’t need a special day or audience to be walked out into the open.

Don’t get there. Be there.

Don’t gin up the motivation to do something on a special day. Just start living the way you know will make you more successful. Today. It’s OK to cheat on your New Year’s Resolution and start it a few days before January 1. Especially if you actually want to change.

Where do you want to be in 2015? Tell the world here, be there inside today, and then let’s go do it on the outside for the whole year. Carpe Diem—seize TODAY and enjoy doing or changing something that will make your life, and maybe even your checking account, a lot richer.

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