For me New Year’s resolutions are funny things. Nowadays, I make them for no other reason than to flag the things that there is very little chance I will be giving up or doing in the year ahead and which will elicit a humorous response at the mere suggestion of them from anyone who knows me. After stating my resolutions (usually made up on the spot and entirely dependent on the audience) I will expect a set of reactions that will range from a complete lack of acknowledgement for what I had just announced or a potty mouthed rebuttal (friends and family), to enthusiastic agreement or praise (gullible folk). There have been the odd occasions in the past where for one reason or another I have actually talked myself into taking one of my own tongue-in-cheek resolutions seriously (probably because someone told me I couldn’t do it even if it wasn’t a joke), but on the whole I see them as nothing more than utterly useless comments and statements to be taken with a generous pinch of salt.
The fact is this – Regardless of whether you are using your New Year’s resolutions as powerful and life changing statements of intent, or like me simply as nothing more than a bit of traditional annual banter over a beer I said I wasn’t going to have, the overwhelming evidence suggests that they are pretty ineffective and statistically work for fewer than one in ten people. Yet despite being so unavailing, every year roughly 60% of people will make them with the intention of sticking to them, meaning for a number cruncher like me, the whole ritual of making NY’s resolutions will ultimately benefit less than 6% of the population despite nearly two thirds of it adopting them.
For the last few weeks in December and the first few weeks in January, the papers, magazines, and self help blogs are awash with useful tips on making resolutions and how to stick to them, with the resolution coverage only seeming to taper off in the last few weeks of the month as the self help experts switch their attention to how miserable you and everyone else is probably going to be around ‘blue January’ – the most depressing day of the year!
So, here’s a tip that actually will help: If you want to make a constructive change in your life, don’t use New Year’s resolutions as a vehicle to do so!
Making positive changes in your life doesn’t have to be as hard as the statistical data regarding the inefficaciousness of NY’s resolutions implies it is. People make positive changes every day and the successful ones do not wait for the clock to strike midnight on the last day of the year to set their plans in motion. People make positive changes begins when they decide to make clear changes to the stories that they have been telling themselves.
We tell ourselves stories all the time. We tell ourselves conscious stories and when we have heard that story enough times we continue to tell ourselves it and many other stories subconsciously in the background. These stories will have players, heroes, villains, plot lines, all based on an interchangeable and subjective mix of fact and fiction, truth and opinion and all told amidst backdrops of varying emotional context. A person who finds change easy is simply a person who has decided that they want to change a story that they have been telling themselves and realise that they have complete autonomy to do so.
If you’re not happy with your story, tell yourself a different one.
One problem people encounter with this is that they feel they have no choice but to continue to tell the same story, that they do not actually own their own tale and that it is merely a ‘thing‘ beyond their control. Externalising things can be useful, but in terms of change – only to become aware of what you are dealing with, identifying what needs changing and cultivating and redrafting the alternative. For permanent change to actually take place and become a person’s new story, their new narrative, they will need to associate into it and this is where I feel giving something a label such as ‘resolution’ keeps it permanently dissociated, detached and nothing more than a thing. We need to own it, we need to feel associated with it and we need to know we can control and adjust all elements of the process at any time.
Ultimately we need to remember that we are not only the narrators, but also the the authors of our lives and the realisation and acceptance of this fact is the powerful cornerstone upon which our ability to choose and control change is entirely based.
A resolution can be forgotten within days or weeks but a good story can capture your imagination for a whole year and beyond!
If you want help writing your story for 2017 email me HERE or call telephone +44 7725560043
Nick Ebdon Coaching and Mentoring
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