The vast majority of us are well aware of the futility of New Year’s resolutions. Many of us have simply stopped making them, knowing that we’re not likely to honor these commitments for more than a few weeks. Forgoing new year’s resolutions avoids the inevitable disappointment we feel when we fail to honor the commitments we made to ourselves. It also helps us avoid hits to our confidence.
As the new year is approaching I find myself, once again, wondering whether or not to make new year’s resolutions. I hadn’t for the past several years, but I couldn’t help but wondering whether or not that inaction was serving me well. During these mental meanderings I realized why I wasn’t fulfilling previous resolutions. I’d like to share what I discovered with you.
Implicit in the word resolution is the word “should.” When we make new year’s resolutions we typically are resolving to do things we know that we should do, but aren’t doing. Consequently, we ask ourselves to do things we don’t really want to do. Who really wants to lose weight or exercise more frequently? Who wants to more consistently perform tasks that need doing but we hate doing?
No one that I know. Oh, we say that’s what we want, but if we truly wanted that result we’d already be doing it. So the key to making new year’s resolutions work is to reframe what we want into something we enjoy.
Let’s say that I resolve to lose 15 pounds and exercise more consistently. While logically I know I’ll be better off doing these things, neither resolution creates any desire to do them. In other words, I need to reframe these resolutions in a way that creates desire. But before we get to desire, we have to tap into what we already know.
I know that when I exercise I crave better foods. I’m also less likely to overeat. Armed with this knowledge I can now pursue activities that I enjoy that can replace what we traditionally view as exercise. I know that I’m more likely to engage in activities I enjoy and that, as a result, I’ll develop better eating habits. I know that the combination of the two will produce the desired result. And it’s all driven by desire.
I enjoy being outdoors. So I explore activities that enable me to be outdoors and active. This fall, on a particularly beautiful day, I used a long-pole trimmer to take out the lower limbs on some of our trees. On other beautiful days, I hand raked the leaves in the yard.
During the winter months, my wife and I hand shovel the snow (only 2 to 3 inches at a time) and we pace ourselves. I’ll walk our dogs even on colder days enjoying the freshness of the air. Of course, I have the attire I need to keep me comfortable.
Your interests are likely to be very different from mine. The key is to find activities that enable you to enjoy what makes you happy…and simultaneously enables you to achieve what you desire instead of something you feel you “should” be doing.
As you ponder whether or not to make a new year’s resolution this year, make a conscious choice to do more of what makes you happy. In all likelihood, you’ll get the result you desire.
For our kids
When you find your kids struggling with a task they should be doing, ask them to consider ways in which the task could become fun. Then help them reframe the task in terms of what they enjoy. Not only are they more likely to perform the task quickly and effectively, you won’t have to hound them to do so.
I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please leave your comment below.
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