Why are new year's resolutions so hard?
Do you know what you want from 2019? Have you done any goal or vision setting? If not, ask yourself this simple question, ‘if you and I were having a coffee or wine in December 2019, what would you be telling me you have achieved this year?’ When faced with big goals and big intentions, you are faced with a big challenge: ‘go big, or go home’. What that’s really saying (abrasively) is are you going to take decisive action to get what you want, or are you going to throw it in the too hard basket. Even worse, are you going to go at it half-heartedly so you can say, ‘I never really tried’. Why crunch times emerge from New Year's resolutions I find that doing purposeful and ‘big’ goal-setting is quite hard for my clients. I reckon that ‘dreaming’ and letting our minds wander away from what is probable and towards what is possible can be daunting, because as humans, we like certainty. ‘Probable’ is comfortable. So when I work through this with my clients, they quite often shrink back in their seat in shyness or embarrassment because god forbid they dare to aim so high. This physiological reaction is good - because it not only shows we’re human, but it is a true indicator that the stakes are high. How exciting is that? This indicates the emergence of a crunch time - where we are provided with a moment of truth - will we, or won’t we? What happens when we write out our goals, and think big about our vision, it can be scary. You know I think is even scarier? Not writing down what you really want because it seems ’too big’. I’ve had some moving times with my clients where they’ve said to me, ‘I really want that, but it doesn’t seem fair that I should get that’, or ’those are my goals, but what I really want is [go back to work full-time/ have a baby/ find a life partner/ get that big promotion]’. In doing this, we are protecting ourselves from the inevitable crunch time and difficult decision that we’re then faced with. How to get to the other side We must understand that during crunch times, we have a choice, and that is the choice in how we respond. But so often, crunch times are where we stuff it up. Why is that, you ask? Essentially, for three main reasons: (1) we make the wrong decision, (2) we don't know how to deal with the pressure cooker situation, and (3) we simply take the wrong action. It’s not that simple, I hear you say. And you’re right, it never is. When faced with crunch times, it is so easy to believe that you are the victim, that you have no control, nor are empowered to make any choices. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have the information you need, you can’t see the forest from the trees, and be overwhelmed as a result. And this is a real confidence killer. Crunch times aren’t actually that bad! When you know that even during crunch times you have a choice, and you can get in control, that you have the mindset, knowledge, capability and tools to make those better choices, you can - no, you will - emerge successful during crunch times. And little by little, you’ll get your confidence and strength back. Tell me how to do this.. When faced with your big goal, and your moment of truth, you need 3 things to move forward and take decisive action with confidence. Those 3 things are:
Strategy: have a high level view of where you’re going, what you’re trying to achieve and what good looks like.
Support: get people in your corner. You’ll need a range of support, including direct support: those that support your specific goal, and indirect support: those that support you as a person.
Confidence: this is the mindset piece and can be the hardest element to keep in check. Being honest with yourself can be a good place to start, asking yourself, ‘why do I want this?’, ‘is it really that important?’, and ‘how will I recover if I fail?’.
Now, being February, the excitement of New Years resolutions has likely passed and we’re now more acutely aware of things that ‘really’ matter to us. Stack the decks in your favour and go big! I can’t wait to hear how 2019 is your best year yet!