Be an Anti-Resolutionist.

Be an Anti-Resolutionist.

New year, new me.

Turn the page.

New day, new chapter.

Blah. Blah.

Heard all those before?

Did you know that only 9.2% of people who make resolutions are successful?  But hey, that’s good news because in 2016, only 8% of people were successful with those resolutions! That’s an increase of 1.2%!

You don’t have to be a stats major to know that those stats are really bad.

By the time the second week of February hits, ¼ of us who made goals have already abandoned them. It’s not that we don’t have good intentions, or go about the resolution itself, but rather, how attainable the goal is.  In my experience, if you can’t measure it, it’s not a very good resolution; vague goals beget vague resolutions.

Resolutions. I hate that word.

The funny thing about resolutions is that there is something comfortable, concrete and tangible about creating resolutions, right? Resolutions are the result of a guilt driven response driven by post holiday indulgence; the catalyst for disaster, wasted gym memberships and many tags on your keychain you don’t need.  Rather than thinking about creating “resolutions” for myself (which I have done and failed many times over) I have shifted my thinking.  Why make huge changes that are not very realistic, when I can make small, measureable, achievable and permanent changes?  If I make a 1% course correction to my mindset each day, that equates to 30% of measurable change/ month to a 365% change/year; micro wins for cumulative gain. Huge takeaway: elite producers and athletes of the world understand that what you do each day matters more than what you do once in a while.   Consistency (willpower) is a key ingredient to mastery, regularity (habit) is a necessity for permanent change.

How does that sound for a resolution?  I still hate that word.

It’s all about mindset.  All that you need to do is shift your thinking from a fixed mind set (quick fix) to a growth mindset. Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford University Psychologist, studied the concept of ‘mindset’ and the psychology of success. A fixed mindset is where people believe that their basic qualities are fixed traits. These qualities can include intelligence, talent, musical ability, athleticism etc.  They also believe that talent alone creates success, without effort. Therefore, they spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing it, working on it or trying to improve it.

A growth mindset is where people believe in the idea that talent and ability is a work in progress and that the most basic qualities like the ones listed above can be developed through dedication and hard work.  For example, if you believe, ‘I am a work in progress.   I can and will be better. I am better,’ this view promotes resiliency, grit and more specifically, motivation.  

Think about this: what makes a legendary athlete so good at what they do isn’t just about the amount of natural talent they actualize and capitalize.  Studies have shown that many of the most exceptional athletes in the world have had less innate skill than their competition.  What they possessed, however, was an exceptional dedication and commitment and drive to maximize whatever strengths they had is what made them iconic.  Dedication and discipline beat out brilliance and giftedness in most case studies. 

Sheer grit, according to Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman, is the passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals.  Grit is the ability to stick with something you feel passionate about and persevere with, even when you face obstacles. It’s about having direction and commitment and staying committed to a task even if it may be difficult or boring.   Grit is also about perseverance; to stick with something and to continue working hard even after experiencing difficulty or failure.  

Research indicates that the ability to be gritty—to stick with things that are important to you and bounce back from failure—is an essential component of success independent of and beyond what talent and intelligence contribute (Duckworth 2016).  

So, what motivates you to want to be better and where does this motivation come from? To start eating cleaner, for example, vanity and aesthetics aside, maybe it’s because you want to be able to keep up with a partner who is interested in sports or recreational activities and you need the energy. Perhaps you have low energy at work and consume too much sugar or you need to keep up with your kids?  Maybe you just want to walk your dog and not feel winded?  Whatever the reason may be, successful “resolutions” (or what I like to refer to as your mindset) begin long before January 1st.

Mine, is to drink less coffee. (God help me.)

Insert growth mindset.  Rather than thinking, “I’ve never been good at sports” (I grew up being completely un-interested in sports, thinking I was never good at them) or  “I can’t eat healthy” (I have an IN-SANE sweet tooth) I shifted my thinking to, “I’m not only going to try this workout thing, I’m going to learn to love it and use it to teach my girls to love and take care of their bodies” and “eating healthy is the only option to fuel my family and help promote healthy and well-rounded eating habits for my girls.”

Your mindset should be rooted in what you want for your ideal life and expressed in affirmative language.  Right now, what’s coming up for me is coffee. (I want it all the time.) Insert affirmative language: By the end of the week, I am drinking one litre of water every time I drink a coffee.   Along with being rooted in affirmative language, you should put some serious thought into this mindset (as small and simple as it may be – think 1%, people) and think about it for a while.  This is what some researchers call the “contemplation phase.” This is the period when you develop an attainable vision (idea) and the confidence that you can stick with it even if you may slip occasionally.  Enrol others to put you into action, tell people who can hold you accountable about your vision and involve others in your efforts. By having people hold you accountable, you are less likely to quit because you’ll let people down.  By end of week I drink one litre of water with my coffee and I only order decaf tea when I meet Naila for lunch.

Simple right?

Here are some easy steps to get you started:

  1. Get very clear on what it is you need most and why. Drink more water, get active, cut some sugar (be realistic here…), be more assertive at work, speak up during class, stop checking my phone every 2 seconds… simple. Make them simple, measurable things. 1%.
  2. Figure out why you want to do this. Have a real conversation with yourself. What is the root of why you want this? Is it internal or external motivation? Try and find an internal reason that matters most to you and not to satisfy an external “thing”.
  3. Write it down. There’s something about putting it in writing that makes connections in your brain and into your body. Its visual, tangible and real.
  4. Enrol someone who holds you accountable. Someone who will actually call you out if you try and default to bad habits. (You know who that person is…yes, you should call them.) Don’t get mad if they actually call you out. Be open to feedback and accept what they are putting down.
  5. Get into action. Now.
  6. Yesterday. Actually.

Ready to be an anti-resolutionist?

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