New Year Resolutions are a quaint custom, that people have stopped trusting, but still continue to follow. Social media has a ball with circulation of jokes and gentle nudges on this topic. Where did the custom originate ?
Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.
There are similar practices in several other aspects of life :
- Setting up annual business targets.
- Renewal of wedding vows.
- Certain kinds of religious or mission oaths.
- Oath-taking ceremonies before assuming political office.
It is just a goal-setting exercise, meant to create an action plan for the year. But we are accountable only to ourselves. There is only a self-appraisal, not followed by a performance rating process, hence, the process is not taken seriously.
But why goals for the year, and not for a lifetime ? Why do we have calendars with months, quarters and half-years ? After all the “Happy New Years” thrown around, tomorrow is just another day. Our lives do not change significantly with the changing calendars on the first day of January.
There is an old quote that says
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Late President of the Bi-Lo Stores
WHY ARE RESOLUTIONS NEEDED ?
- Chunking down
We are basically cutting down long-term goals into small, manageable action plans, so that they are easier to track, review and modify as required.
2. The Concept of Limited Memory
As we acquire new information, the old ones get relegated to the background. The mental images and associations have weakened. Brushing up and a quick recall is needed to keep important things at the top of your mind.
When we declare our resolutions to our family, friends and on social media, we have set up an effective monitoring system. People will remind you in a half-jesting manner, that you have slipped up.
Resolutions result from a mental process of self-appraisal, and a realization that you are lacking in certain areas.
We do not die the same person as we were born. Life is a constant process of change, renewal and reinvention. We set our intentions for this, at a specified time of the year.
WHY THEN, DO RESOLUTIONS FAIL ?
- Lack of Motivation
Key Result Areas, Performance Targets, Business Plans all create a mental pressure on us to perform. While we keep struggling with the others, the resolutions for self are the most dispensable. We take the easier route.
- The Comfort Zone
We do not wish to stretch significantly out of our comfort zones. Life may not have been fantabulous, but has not been bad within the confines of familiarity. There is the comfort of known pleasures and rewards.
- The Fear of Failure
What if I don’t lose weight, or go back to smoking ? What if I still develop health problems of some kind ? What if the people who matter do not appreciate my efforts ? We do not try things, where there is no precedent of success in our lives.
THE POWER OF QUESTIONS
What if we just spend the last two days of the years, asking ourselves the following questions ?
- Which is that one most important area that needs to change ?
- What will be the impact of the change/ not changing, on your life ?
- What is stopping it from changing ?
- Who or what is affected by this, other than you ? Does it create discomfort ?
- What would you do now, if you knew that you cannot fail ?
Yes. This creates the right mindset. This gives a push which can be sustained. This gets you addicted to success.
Help is available in the form of peer resources, success coaches, enablers and coaching apps. Just reach out, and empower yourself.