As I write this, I cannot believe tomorrow is New Years Day! It seems that as I get older the years fly by so much quicker. According to Forbes 62% of people feel pressured to make a New Years resolution for 2024, however even though 80% of the people polled feel they can reach their goals, only 20% said they honestly felt they would keep themselves accountable. Out of the top 5 goals for 2024 improving fitness was the first, followed by improving finances, improving mental health, losing weight, and improving diet. These are all really good goals and most of us know ways to start to achieve them, so why do so many of us fail? I think it’s the word pressured. Most of us don’t want to feel pressured into doing something even if it’s good for us. I love to exercise but when I was training for marathons or mini triathlons something I love turned into a big chore, because I had schedules and deadlines and a finish line. And when I hired a personal trainer and she told me what to eat, when to eat it, and what exercise routine to do daily, I found that exercise became an enemy rather than a friend. Something I do daily to relieve pressure turned into a source of pressure because I felt pressured😊
Noone makes long-term changes because they have been pressured into it unless the situation is dire. I’ve spoken before about the four stages of change. The first is you have to because it is dire. Your doctor says quit smoking or your blood pressure is likely to cause you to have a stroke, or you are bankrupt and know you have no choice but to change your financial plan. Maybe it’s your second DUI, and you are about to lose your license for a very long time, or your spouse gives you an ultimatum, deal with your rage or get out. Sometimes that’s enough pressure to change a behavior but even then, not for most of us. The second stage of change is when you do it to make someone else happy and this is rarely sustainable and long-term. Most of us have tried to convince a new crush that we like something we don’t until we snatch them up and then say, “Surprise I hate football and all of your friends”. The third type of change is when your head is really in it, but your heart is not. You know you need to lose weight, you really do, but then there’s pizza. The last and most successful stage of change is when you just really, really, don’t want to do what you’ve been doing for one more day and you are willing to make an action plan and stick to it. That means that even on bad days when ice-cream and a couch and a little online shopping seems like such a better choice than a salad, a walk, and a good book, you regroup and stick to the plan.
So my suggestion is to skip the New Years resolution this year. I mean if you are really ready go for it. If you don’t feel that you are able to keep yourself 99% accountable, hold off until you are. Instead choose a word to guide you through the year. And see yourself in training to live life as an example of that word. If you veer off, you are not a failure because you are still in training. And anyway you have 365 days to achieve your goal, which is to just live your life as a better representative of that word. So pick a word. You may want to go to https://allisonsueelliott.com for a list of possible words to choose from. Then decide on one step to take to become a better representative of that word. Just one step. If you chose grateful start a grateful journal. If you chose growth, choose one area of your life that you want to grow in and chose one thing to do. Just take one step into 2024 with a plan. And just in case you might forget your word as the months go forward, share it with someone who won’t pressure you, but will gently remind you of the word you decided to represent in 2024.
Happy New Year everybody!!!