To make something good of the future, you have to look the present in the face.
– Simone de Beauvoir
What was your resolution last year? Can you even remember? If you can, do you remember why you didn’t fulfill it? Why it didn’t stick?
Unconsciously, you know, but maybe don’t want to admit the real reason to yourself because it’ll scare you out of this one. But 9 times out of 10, I can guarantee the reason your resolution failed wasn’t because you couldn’t hack it, but because it was the wrong resolution.
Vowing to the go to the gym more is a classic example of the wrong resolution. The gym isn’t a goal. It’s a step to the larger goal which is underneath why you want to go to the gym.
Steps, like going to the gym, are the action plans you set in motion to get to the larger goal, which might be a better body, or a healthier lifestyle. The reason you didn’t go to the gym enough in 2018 wasn’t because you were waiting for a clean slate. You didn’t go to the gym because your goal wasn’t the gym.
Your goal was a healthier life and once you started falling on that goal in other ways (like drinking on days you said you wouldn’t, eating ice cream two nights in a row) you already felt you failed the resolution so you quit the other part of it. The gym part.
So the question really is, what’s your real goal for this year and what’s your plan to get there?
Resolution = Goal + Plan
In order to get these two parts of the equation, we need to be honest with ourselves and figure out exactly what we want, why we want it, and why we can’t seem to get it. Start answering those questions by asking yourself these four questions. Write them down so they are more real.
What do I want to achieve in 2019?
What’s kept me from achieving it before?
What do I need to give up in order to achieve it?
What do I need to gain in order to achieve this?
Here’s An Example:
What do I want to achieve in 2019? I want to quit smoking
What’s kept me from achieving it before? Not having willpower
What do I need to give up in order to achieve it? Stress, anxiety
What should I gain instead? A substitute for when I feel stressed
So this resolution should be, find ways to cope with stress and anxiety in order to eventually quit smoking.
So we now know the goal and the plan to get there. But that’s still too broad. Now you need to create steps and routines that promote flow. Because there’s no way you’re going to adapt all these new routines and habits if they’re not in the flow zone.
Developed and studied by psychologist, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow state is defined as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” He characterizes it as “the mental state of flow involves “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
The ten factors that can accompany this state of flow are:
1. Having clear goals about what you want to achieve
2. Concentration and focus
3. Participating in an intrinsically rewarding activity
4. Losing feelings of self-consciousness
5. Timelessness; losing track of time passing
6. Being able to immediately judge your own progress; instant feedback on your performance
7. Knowing that your skills align with the goals of the task
8. Feeling control over the situation and the outcome
9. Lack of awareness of physical needs
10. Complete focus on the activity itself
So if your goal is to be healthier this year by doing things like going to the gym, eating healthy and drinking less, then create these steps in proportion to your skills. Don’t promise to eat healthier by making meals you won’t have time to commit to making. Make easy meals that are also healthy. Maybe start with three healthy meals a week. Don’t push yourself too hard at the gym the first few times. Develop your strength and endurance again, slowly building up to that ideal gym session. The worst thing you can do is to give yourself too hard of a challenge before your skillset is developed to handle it.
Now, don’t get discouraged by this daunting task of this two part resolution. Get excited! There’s a reason people love the new year, it’s a universal clean slate. This is your time to really look at yourself and reflect on your life. The only difference is now you’ll be doing it with clarity.