Are you planning to do something better in 2016? Are you going to make a New Year Resolution? If you are, be careful. Each year about 127,200,000 Americans begin January by promising themselves they will develop some new positive habits in the coming 12 months, and 92% of those good intentions are forgotten by February. The reason for such failure is not because the objects of our desires are meaningless or trivial. Take a look at the top 5 resolutions from 2015 as reported by the Neilsen Organization.
Stay fit and healthy
Enjoy life to the fullest
Spend less, save more
Spend more time with family and friends
I think everyone would agree making progress on any of those priorities would improve the quality of our life. A lot of people ask why there is a disconnect between our aspirations and our actions. Unfortunately, that question will not help you change your behavior. It is better to ask why some succeed. Remember, the research says 8% of 127,200,000 are successful when it comes to achieving their year-long objective, but a much more encouraging fact is that 75% of us keep our New Year Promise for at least one week. Just walk into a health club January 2nd and try to find a locker or treadmill if you don’t believe the statistic.
If you really want to be more successful in 2016, stop making a New Year Resolution and start making a New Week Resolution.
By focusing on one week rather than the entire year, you will dramatically improve the quality of your health and happiness. Katherine Milkman’s Research at the University of Pennsylvania suggests human beings like a fresh start. Making a resolution to develop a positive habit on New Year’s Eve feels good. We wipe the slate clean on December 31st and begin the year filled with positive possibilities. Fresh starts cause us to evaluate our lives and encourage us to make positive change. Graduating from school, getting a better job, the beginning of Spring, starting a new relationship or, in some cases, ending an old one are some examples of new beginnings when we are motivated to reach positive goals. A fresh start closes the door on our mistakes from the past and opens another one that swings on hinges of hope. Don’t wait 12 months to open and close your doors.
If you sincerely desire to make some self-improvements in 2016, I encourage you and your family to engage in an experiment with me. Make the following New Week Resolution to focus on one of these 7 virtues (Love, Optimism, Gratitude, Wisdom, Courage, Growth and Humor) and make that word the focus of your day. At the end of the week, you will have applied all 7 to your life.
All aspects of your work and family will be better because of your efforts to apply these words to your world…one day at a time. There is no need to add anything to your ‘to do’ list. Just write the word down somewhere you can see it and reflect on it each morning, afternoon and evening. Ask yourself how you can apply a little more of the word to your life and let the answer to that question influence your actions. At the end of each day, think about what you did well and how you and the people in your world benefited from your efforts.
Changing our behavior is much harder than most of us realize. Saying we are going to maintain a positive habit for a year only sets most people up for failure. Instead of feeling bad in a month because you fell off the New Year Resolution Wagon, celebrate being a winner for a week when it comes to adding more virtues to your life. Imagine the progress you could make if you repeated this process 52 times.
I wish you and your family a Happy and Healthy New Week!
Let’s Get Better. Together! Bill Durkin