A very happy new year to everybody.
I hope you began the year with a bang- drinking, partying, and getting shit faced. It’s new year after all- 365 new days and opportunities that you can capitalize on.
The beginning of a year is also the time when people decide to change things about them, get better, and get moving forward.
Well, at least that’s what the intentions are.
Helping them to realize the change is the act of taking new year’s resolutions. But we all know how resolutions end up for most people (including you, maybe?) .
A survey reports that only 8% of the people achieve their new year’s resolution.
Think about that. For 92% of the people who take new year’s resolution, it remains just that, a resolution. It doesn’t gets achieved, and the pattern is repeated the next year.
This is because people make the mistake of wanting change all at once.
They want to overhaul their lifestyle, and turn their lives 360 degrees around. They prepare a list of all the things that they are going to change.
Here’s an example of a typical new year’s resolution list:
1) Lose 15 pounds of weight.
2) Become a teetotaler
3) Quit smoking once and for all
4) Increase knowledge and become smarter
5) Learn a new language
6) Increase income
The problem with a list of resolutions is that it is unrealistic to even begin with.
All the tasks that you do in life are run on the fuel of time. You set yourself up for failure if you try to achieve everything at once, because like I always say, you can’t be the batman and the superman.
Not to mention you have to accomplish all that by accommodating them into your everyday routine. You cannot just decide to give up your work to fulfill your New Year’s Resolutions.
That is why you see hordes of people in the gym at the beginning of every new year, but as a couple of months go by, the population drops back to what it was before the new year.
It’s not that people are not interested in making positive changes in their lives, but more often than not, they do so in a manner that is neither efficient nor conducive to their lifestyle.
So what is the solution?
After research and experiment, I have come up with a three step formula to setting your new year’s resolution and seeing through it all the way.
Read it and implement it.
Step 1: One resolution, not one hundred
The first step is that instead of setting multiple goals, fix only one goal. Make only a single new year resolution. The reason is explained in great detail in one of the previous posts.
Get rid of the list. Choose any one of the resolutions which according to you has the highest priority.
Step 2: Making the goal realistic
Instead of making the set goal unrealistic and extreme, set it up in a manner that is easier to accomplish.
I call this approach the ‘One Degree Change’ contrary to the popular ‘360 degree change’.
It is far easier to implement a single new change rather than achieve multiple goals at the same time.
Ever since I experimented and lost over 13 kgs of weight, I have come to realize that personal development takes time, and patience.
I have said this before, but I will repeat it because it is so important- you change by taking small actions every day rather than big actions for only a couple of months.
Self improvement is all about consistency and commitment. In order to remain consistent and committed, you need to set goals, and then simplify them into actions that you can take everyday, no matter how small they may be.
Here is a simple diagram to illustrate my point:
Let us assume that right now you are in the position ‘O’. If you keep doing what you have been doing up until now
and don’t make any change in your life, you would end up at point ‘A’. Most probably it will not be a position that you desire.
Now let’s say that you decide to make a small change in your life, a one degree change- you read a book instead of watching Game Of Thrones re-runs, or you decide to drink fruit juice instead of gulping a can of beer.
Now because of the small action you took, you will reach at point ‘B’ instead of point ‘A’.
Think about it as a small turn of the steering wheel of a vehicle on a road. It may seem small or even negligible, but if the vehicle keeps on moving the direction it has turned to, it would reach a totally different destination altogether.
The Butterfly Effect
One small change can influence bigger and better changes which lead to a total transformation.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, in Chaos Theory, the Butterfly Effect refers to the idea that a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.
In simpler terms, a small change can have a massive impact on a long enough time line.
The change, however insignificant or irrelevant may seem, significantly alters the position of a being.
“In 1907, an art enthusiast, submitted his works to the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, and he was rejected. He was told that he should focus on being an architecture, not an artist.
But the man persevered.
In 1908, he once again gave an entrance to the university and his paintings were rejected, again.
Disheartened by his lack of success in the art school, the man joined the army. ”
” In 1951, a simple copywriter working in the famed magazine company, Esquire, walked into the managers office and demanded a raise of $5. It’s all he asked for.
But he was refused a raise. Enraged, the man left the job.”
Now you may consider the above two events as simple and non important. But your perception will change about those events when I tell you that the young man who joined the army was Adolf Hitler, one of the most ruthless dictator the world has ever seen, and the person who resigned from Esquire, was Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy.
The point is this- small, single and simple events trigger a larger event.
You don’t need to grind your teeth, and go with the full throttle only to burn yourself out half way on the race. Life is like a marathon. It’s a long run and you have to keep a steady pace to finish it.
So decide on one goal and make it progressive in nature.
Instead of setting up the goal that you will completely stop smoking, set it as I will smoke only once a day (if you smoke like a freight train).
Instead of setting up a resolution to “spend less” , set up a goal to go to shopping only once a month.
Make your resolution tangible, and achievable- something you can work on instead of run away from.
Step 3: Conversion Of Goal Into Habits
The final step to sticking to and achieving your new year’s resolution is to make habit out of the goal you have set yourself up for.
Man is a creature of habits. Roughly 40 percent of what you do today are exactly the same as yesterday.
Even though you don’t consciously realize it, your actions, reactions, and responses to situations are repetitive in nature.
And the wonderful thing about habits is that the more you do them, the stronger and more embedded they become.
In order to exploit this power of habits, it is wise to convert your goals into habits.
For instance, if your new year’s resolution is to lose 15 pounds, decide an action that is going to help you achieve that goal.
In this case, jogging for 30-45 minutes a day is a good solution. Decide that you will jog for 45 minutes a day at a particular time, and they begin doing it daily.
Daily being the key word there.
Remember, that the more you reinforce an action, the more it becomes a habit.
And we all know the old age aphorism: It takes 21 days to build a habit. So just do it.
It will feel like ‘hard work’ in the beginning, but after a couple of months, it will become any other routine that you do. Just like brushing your teeth.
For someone who is addicted to smoking, it is recommended that you ‘replace‘ the smoking with an activity that is healthy.
Charles Duhigg, the author of the book, The Power Of Habit, states that a habit works in three parts-cue, routine, and reward, and it is more effective to replace a habit than to break it.
From my own life, when I observed that I have become an addict to beer, I decided to replace the habit instead of quitting the addiction altogether.
Whenever I felt the urge to drink beer, I gulped down water until I felt full. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel that I had to drink beer anymore. Every-time I felt like I wanted the taste of beer, I drank water.
It was easy, convenient, and I could do it anytime and anywhere.
I am proud to inform that I am no longer an addict. Have drank beer only twice in the last year- both the times on my terms, and not succumbing to my addiction.
Let’s wrap discussion up by revisiting the three points discussed in the article:
1) Set up only one resolution
2) Make the goal achievable
3) Convert the goal into habits
New Year’s resolution is a good thing only when you achieve it. Don’t set up resolutions because it’s cool to do so, or because everybody is doing it. It is a way to progress and move forward in life. The three step formula mentioned in the article will help you accomplish your resolution. Apply it.