If you’re thinking of making a New Year Resolution I don’t want to throw water on your fire but, the odds are against you. 80% of resolutions fail by February in America (1) and about 60% of people who make resolutions in the UK will quit within 3 months (2). The common belief is that failure is due to things like not setting clear, measurable goals or planning bite-sized stages of progress. Oh, and not having enough will power. If you fail, it’s because you’re weak. You can’t handle the pain of change.
I don’t believe we fail because we don’t have will power, plans or clear goals. Maybe that happens in a few cases but, there’s a much more important root cause of failure which is rarely mentioned. It’s this: your goal is not YOUR goal.
What I mean is, you’re setting goals that are not aligned to your own core values. Instead you’re buying into extrinsic values. You’re doing what other people think you should do.
Society makes people think they should lose weight because ‘slim people are more attractive’. One’s parents can make them think they should save money because ‘not having money makes them unsuccessful’. Their friends make them think they should travel more because ‘not travelling means they are missing out’. So, off they run into the New Year sunset with these goals in tow.
But, pretty soon they’ve given up. This is because humans are inspired to act in accordance with their own deepest values, NOT in accordance with the values of other people.
“If there is something that you believe you would love to have in your life—such as a more fulfilling career, a life partner, or greater financial freedom—I can tell you that the reason you don’t yet have it in that particular form is almost certainly that you don’t truly value it enough.” John F. Demartini, The Values Factor.
Admit the truth
It’s hard to admit that we don’t really value losing weight, especially if we are overweight. Or, that we couldn’t give two hoots about going to the gym or saving money. It’s hard to admit that we actually value our work more than spending time with the kids.
But, if you don’t admit these truths (at least to yourself) then you’ll keep banging your head against a brick wall, failing resolutions and feeling worse about yourself each time you fail to create lasting change.
Once you admit the truth you can ditch the external drivers of what you think you should, must and have to do, and focus on something that you actually want or better, would love to do. I.e. something that you value.
Doing this awakens the innate drive and ability in humans to achieve things that are truly meaningful to them. Consider the parents who do so much for their children, the business people who go to all lengths to serve customers or the gym-goers who work out 6 times a week. These aren’t accidents or will power. This is how we act when we truly value something. We get it done and we get results. We even enjoy it!
Make a Life Revolution
This isn’t just about New Year resolutions, it’s about a life-long revolution towards value based living. To work against this powerful part of human nature – at any time of year – is a waste of energy, time and often money. However, to work with it is transformational. When you live to your values, the bad habits you try to drop at New Year tend to fall away by themselves. You’ll soon see that contrary to popular belief, successful change isn’t about doing things with will power, it’s about doing things with meaning.
If you want to learn more about Values I recommend the work of Dr John Demartini and specifically, the free Value Determination tool on his website. Nb. values are not the same as strengths. Strengths are used to live your values to your best ability.
This blog is not meant to substitute Professional Healthcare Advice in treating harmful addictions to food/ alcohol/ cigarettes/ drugs etc.
About the author: To find out more about Pinky Jangra, click here.