New Chapter or Just the Same Old Story

Happy New Year! By now I’m sure you’ve been asked more than once, “What are your resolutions this year?”

New Year Resolutions are something nearly everyone struggles with. As humans, most of us are not wired to follow-through with a resolution, such as, “On January 1st, I’m giving up chocolate forever!” While our conscious minds may be on board with our goals, our subconscious minds often don’t receive the memos. In fact, according to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, 92% of people who make these self-promises eventually fail to keep them. No wonder January can be so depressing. We’re all beating ourselves up for failing to keep our resolutions!

In our coaching we’ve talked a lot about using failure as a rerouting opportunity; failure as feedback. When you’re working to build a new habit, failure to stay on track with your resolution can indicate that the resolution itself wasn’t properly aligned with a personal value proposition. Sneaking a bite of chocolate less than a week into January doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. Instead it’s a reminder that your reason for having the chocolate is more compelling than your reason for not having it. This is great news because, if you do break your resolution, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It simply means you get to re-examine (reroute) why you choose the resolution, and pick a bigger, deeper, stronger reason for wanting to keep it.

Many years ago, a friend of mine struggled to quit smoking for good. She would quit for periods of time, but a relationship break up, funeral, or horrible boss sent her running right back to her Parliaments. Frustrated, she asked me, “Why is it that with any emotional bomb, I absolutely crumble at the urge to smoke?”

My friend clearly saw smoking as self-destructive. So I asked her to review those dire moments in her life, and look for the reason she wanted to hurt herself. I could see the gears in her mind turning as she pondered a question she did not expect. Finally she replied, “In those times of my life, I suppose I don’t want to exist anymore, or at least I don’t think I deserve to exist. But that’s crazy. I’m have so much to live for. So what if getting dumped makes me feel depressed?”

One month later, my friend was a non-smoker again and never felt the urge to smoke again. She had discovered a stronger, deeper idea that she valued far and above the pleasure of smoking a cigarette. She valued prevailing over her depressive thoughts and living to talk about it, rather than shortening her life for a momentary pleasure.

Ponder the New Year’s Resolution you’ve chosen, or thought about taking on. What is the most powerful, highest value that you get out of making that resolution a reality? If you fail at the resolution, don’t give up. Reevaluate, and go deeper to discover an even stronger reason to stick to your new behavior. Resolve, reroute and remake yourself. Happy 2015!

“There is no chance, no fate, no destiny that can circumvent, or hinder, or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.” ― Hyrum Smith

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