New Year’s is usually the time of year when people make grand resolutions for themselves for the year ahead. Wikipedia defines a New Year’s resolution as “a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit….made in anticipation of the New Year and new beginnings.” (Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.)
According to Statistic Brain, 45% of Americans frequently make New Year’s resolutions. While those who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals, only 8% of Americans are successful in achieving their stated resolutions. Over 70% of us make it through the first couple of weeks, but after that the resolutions start to waver a bit. Why is that?
I think that we face this kind of challenge with most goals that we set, whether it’s losing that last 20 pounds or organizing the garage or finding a job. We get tired of sticking to strict new rules and go back to our old habits. We wait for the “right time” to begin. We make vague promises to ourselves, then find excuses not to follow through. We treat our goals as if they’re optional. We set ourselves up to fail.
What are we actually saying when we set a resolution or goal? According to Dictionary.com, a resolution is “a formal expression of opinion of intention made; the act of determining upon an action or course of action; firmness of purpose.” A goal is “the result of achievement toward which effort is directed; the terminal point in a race.”
If we have firmness of purpose and a terminal point in mind, where do we go astray? Here’s another definition to consider: “commitment: the act of committing; the state of being committed; the act of pledging or engaging oneself; a pledge or promise; obligation; engagement; involvement.”
Put “commitment” between a resolution and a goal, and you get involved. You get engaged. You have promises to keep.
Here are a few things to consider as you get ready to commit to your success:
- Take time to evaluate your goals. Is this what you really want? Or what you’ve become accustomed to thinking you want?
- Write out your commitment to yourself. This will help clarify the kind of behavior that will help you get what you want.
- Consider your obstacles. Are they real or perceived? Are you using your obstacles as an excuse? How will you honor your commitment in the face of these obstacles?
- Take manageable bites. It’s important to be realistic in the amount of time and energy you can commit in order to follow through on your promise to yourself. What can you commit to this week?
- Find an accountability tool that works for you. Is it a weekly to-do list? A journal? An app? A friend or family member that won’t let you off the hook? It can be easy to justify breaking promises to ourselves, so find a person or tool that helps remind you of the commitment you’ve made.
“To begin, simply start.”