New Year's resolutions are top of mind and as usual at this time of the year, there is a plethora of posts, blogs, and articles about the topic, including this one. They include prompts to think about how you will use this annual opportunity for a fresh start, set new goals, and establish a new you. Other posts I have seen include a disdain of the New Year resolution concept. My husband and I have participated in a New Year's resolution ritual with another couple in the past, writing down our goals and sealing them in an envelope, only to have misplaced the envelop during the year or completely forget about it and whatever we documented. It was a fun activity at the moment as we were swept up in the possibilities of achieving a better future version of ourselves. Both ends of the spectrum, the excitement of hitting the refresh button and the disappointment of failing, have power over us.
Do not give your power away. Take control of it. Achieve your best Self on your own terms. Don't start over. Build on your beautiful foundational talents and values. There is no clean slate to being you. You are YOU and rather than trying to shed the skin of an old you, get to know the YOU you are. Your future self or achievements based on a predetermined annual date is not the answer for most of us.
It turns out there is a psychological concept called the Fresh Start Effect. There is an interesting article, Psychology Behind The Fresh Start Effect Of The New Year, that describes research about the pros and cons of a fresh start on our performance. It seems when traded to a new team, a baseball player's batting average can improve or decline as a result of starting over with a zero batting average. With a clean slate, a player with a lower batting average on the previous team has shown improved performance on a new team, and a player with a higher batting average on the previous team has shown a dip in performance with a clean slate.
I get the clean slate concept. It feels like a new opportunity to perform better. It can also feel like pressure to prove something to yourself or others. I have started many jobs with a clean slate and told myself I have an opportunity to position myself differently, operate more effectively, and be more organized. I've made some observations over time, and although the job was new and so were my boss and colleagues, the "fresh start" was a continuation of my unfinished journey of personal growth, and the traits that my colleagues appreciated about me in the new situation were the same as the past. My biggest growth was appreciating who I was and knowing my value and talents. This appreciation does not just happen overnight or because of a point in time. This has been my life-long journey.
Like many of us, in my past, I had a weight-loss goal of twenty pounds. My previous failed attempts at New Year's resolutions did not fool me this time, and although I could have very easily procrastinated until the end of the year, I did not. In fact, I started the week before Thanksgiving. I did not give my power away to a date. I determined the time, and I was in control. If you're wondering, I have kept the weight off for nearly seventeen years, with the exception of this year, in which I've gained a little weight but ready to take back control again without the prompt of an annual resolution. I know by now I will be more successful on my own terms.
According to the article, Sick of Failing at Your New Year’s Resolutions? There Is a Better Way, nearly eighty percent of those who set New Year's resolutions lose focus by February and only eight percent remain focused on them throughout the year. If you are one of the eighty percent, so what? Don't beat yourself up. You are in good company. Learn something from it and move forward on your own terms, but don't wait until the next New Year. Determine what you need to do differently this time around. The article link included in this paragraph has helpful ideas. I have also included my favorites, those I have tried and found personally helpful in achieving my most successful accomplishments. You will find these and many more Try This ideas that will bring out your best in my book Unfinished: Unlock Your Superpowers, Live with Purpose, and Discover Limitless Possibilities.
Write your goals down and keep them visible and where you can be reminded of them daily (tape them to the refrigerator or bathroom mirror).
Track and celebrate your progress, no matter how small (see my own fancy tracking system to the right).
Be verbal about what you want to achieve and find an accountability partner; surround yourself with genuinely caring people who can support you in your journey.
Shift to a Small but Mighty mindset, meaning small acts of courage and small achievable actions. Bigger is not better.
Aim for progress, not perfection. You are human, which means perfection is not possible. Be aware of your perfectionist tendencies.
Be kind and forgiving to yourself.
I'm on a mission to encourage as many people as possible to live and be their best versions of themselves. I've been on my own journey over the past several years and thought there must be others who have felt like me. Those who experienced self-doubt and let others, things, and roles define them. I discovered I'm not done in my life and realized there are infinite possibilities. So, I wrote my first book with the intention of helping others discover, unleash, and show up as their true selves regardless of the situation, and remove the barriers to fulfillment and possibilities.
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