Episode 226 – A New Look at New Year’s ResolutionsPosted on December 26, 2016
I have very mixed feelings about New Year’s Resolutions, on one hand I think it’s really important because at the very least it shows a want or an intent to change. On the other hand I feel like if something is really that important, why would someone wait until January 1st to change, if it’s really that important you should start right away. Either way if you’re setting a New Year’s resolution or a goal of some sort it’s going to be tough, because change is hard, but you can set yourself up for success by approaching it with the right frame of mind and strategies to help you achieve the outcome you’re looking for.
It was Christmas of 1996 and I was young enough that I still got pretty excited around the holidays and of course when it came to presents bigger was always better, except this year I felt like me presents were marginally smaller than they had been in the past. Little did I know that there comes a point when bigger isn’t always better and that’s when I opened this gift, the limited edition 20 year anniversary special VHS release of Rocky, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. I didn’t realize it in that moment, but Rocky was about to become my favourite movie of all time. I mean, how can you not love it. It features a true underdog with limited skills that gets a once in a lifetime shot at being the best in the world, all he has to do is train harder and drink 5 raw eggs every morning. Which by the way, sucks, I quickly found that out the morning after I watched the movie for the first time. Anyways, although it is a great movie there are a couple of things that are misleading about it, one being that although technically in the movie the training montage lasts several weeks, in our real lives it lasts about 6 minutes and our brains have trouble making that conversion, which means it feels to us like it takes much less time than that. Another thing is that although he looks like he’s working pretty hard it still feels relatively easy to me the person watching it and again our brains have trouble converting that. If I had to sum up all my issues with this aspect of the movie as they relate to regular people they would be this; the answer is never just ‘try harder’, it’s always going to be longer than you think, it’s going to require much more effort than you realize and there is no end date or championship bout where you throw your hands up in the air and get to say, ‘I did it! And now I can take a break and go back to how I was living before. Sure, you can cycle your efforts as part of your strategy, but there is no point where you can wipe your hands and say, ‘That was tough, but there’s no need to be healthy anymore, because I won that fight.’
But the reality is that’s often how we set goals, I will lose 30 pounds by March, then it will be done, I will be able to 15 push-ups then I will be strong and not have to do it any more or if you’re like my dad, you will run every day for months and then go to the doctors for a physical and the doctor will tell you that you have the blood pressure of a teenager and then you will go home and never run another day in your life, but still reminisce of the glory days when you were in your late 40’s and had the blood pressure of a teenager.
Media and society tell us that that’s how you’re supposed to do it, you set this specific, timed goal and then you go for it and once you get it then your done.
Which is fine, but it does very little in helping you change your behaviours for the long term and what happens if you get to 95% of that goal, but become demoralized when you’re unable to reach 100%, but you still did an awesome job and made a lot of positive changes and progress around it. Which is why focusing on the process is so much more effective, let’s look at all the good things Rocky did, every night he set his alarm so he could wake up early and start his training, he found a good coach and social support from people close to him that had his back no matter what and he stuck to the plan he created even though there were times when he started to veer off he always found his way back. His plan was heavily devoted to his process and he changed his training accordingly to work on his weaknesses to be able to beat Apollo Creed.
Now when you look at your life, the goals you set and your New Year’s resolutions I want you to look at how you’re going to change them this time around? What process or behaviours are you going to change to enable you to be successful. Are you going to set your alarm, are you going to make a grocery list, are you going to have a firm talk with your spouse about where you store the chocolate or better yet negotiate the fact it should never come into the house in the first place. Ultimately these changes are going to be up to you, so decide what your plan or process is going to be and then execute that process and that is how you make sustainable long-term change and you become the most active version of yourself.
Before you take off today, I have a special announcement to make, as many of you know we operate out of the Ottawa area and if you are in the Ottawa or surrounding area we are holding a free live in person goal setting seminar on January 17th at 6:30pm at the Tanglewood community Centre. All we ask is that when you come bring a friend, that’s it.