Ditch Your Resolution Day

Did you know Tuesday was officially “ditch your resolution day”? That’s right. It’s a thing. And according to research, 88% of us have given up on our resolutions by now. Sigh.

The silver lining (because I always look for one) is that if you fall into this statistic, you shouldn’t feel bummed out. You’re not alone. It’s not only normal, but also totally okay.

Resolutions can be hard, especially if you set out to make major changes in your life. Realizing this fact should ease some of the self-inflicted disappointment.

But what if you don’t want to give up so easily? What if you honestly want to make some adjustments? How do you muster up the willpower and endurance to make it happen? I turned to the experts and found some insight for us. >>

Start with the Right Questions

The Stanford-educated psychologist Kelly McGonigal (and the one who recently taught me how to embrace stress) wrote an entire book about willpower.

Willpower (or lack thereof) is pretty much the reason we keep (or ditch) our resolutions so quickly. She explains that willpower is not a virtue. It’s a biological function that can be improved through mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and sleep. So she’s saying there’s a chance.

In this article, Kelly specifically talks about resolutions and graciously offers tips on how to stick to them. She gives credit to our willpower, which is essentially fueled by our desires.

We have to have a solid understanding of what it is we want out of life and what impact we want to have on the world before we can begin making changes of any kind.

Then and only then can the map plotting and goal setting begin. We’re finally in the frame of mind to ask the right questions: How do I get there? What should I do (or stop doing) that will make a difference?

The answers to these questions are where we should be digging up ideas for our goals and resolutions.

It sounds simple, but I think this subtle shift in planning can be transformative. I usually make resolutions asking questions like: What’s wrong with me at the moment? What do I need to fix? So the advice from Kelly was pretty eye opening.

Once we define our “why”, we can be inspired with a determination we’ve never had before.

Find the Olive

I heard a story one time about a major airline saving a million dollars simply by removing a single olive in all of the salads they served in flight. That was during a time when airlines were still serving us fancy meals – and not charging extra. Remember those good ol’ days?

Well, the airline was faced with a budget challenge and needed to find a way to cut costs. Instead of making wholesale changes, such as firing a bunch of pilots or increasing airfares, they looked for something simple.

If you apply this logic to setting resolutions, we can think about our challenges and look for small, simple adjustments.

Let’s assume you’ve asked the right questions and one of your resolutions is to drink more water so you feel better and have more energy when you’re with your kids.

Instead of telling yourself you have to drink 8-10 glasses a day, which sounds like flooding your system, what if you drank a few more sips or one more glass than usual? Then the next week, add another. Over time, this little bit of extra water will add up. You’ll start feeling more refreshed, you may have even lost weight – and you will have found your olive!

Write it Down

I was listening to Joel Osteen in my car the other day, and he talked about the importance of writing down our plans. He said, “Success is intentional, not accidental.”

You don’t accidentally get your closet organized, lose 20 pounds, or finish making that arm-knit scarf you started four weeks ago. You have to write down your plans. Then set aside time to move forward with your olive in hand.

In my last issue of Real Simple, I read that 61% of people who wrote things down for the next four weeks actually accomplished them. Just by writing. them. down. (I guess I’ll be getting a new notebook soon.) Seriously, though, I didn’t realize the importance of this step. Writing = action.

Okay, I don’t know about you, but I feel more armed and ready than ever to re-tackle these things called resolutions. Who cares if it’s not January 1st. Let’s make it an awesome day – and even better tomorrow.