Dear Why Team member,
I hope you have been enjoying your holidays thus far - and have an eye to a New Year’s Beginning!
This is how the first blog of 2020 started: “We will never get to live in a year like the one approaching, a year that has “clarity” in its name: 2020 - the perfect vision everyone’s striving to have. No better time to sit down and clearly define or revisit our why and what else we’d like to accomplish.”
I pause and smile…. I wonder if any of us got to achieve everything or most of what we wanted to accomplish this year. Wasn’t there so much to learn in 2020? The year at least taught many of us that when option A is no longer available, we can find the strength to kick the s**t out of Option B- paraphrasing Sheryl Sandberg.
I think we all discovered a…new side of ourselves. Did you accept and embrace it, or did you fight against it? Did it bring you success or did it stop you in your tracks? Either way, looks like we have a chance to try again in the New Year - that’s why this week we consider our resolutions for 2021.
For many years now, I have been asking those in my audiences,
“How many of you set a New Year’s Resolution?”.
As the years have progressed, less and less have raised their hands; it is not uncommon now for less than 10% of my audience to have set a New Year’s resolution.
I often ask those who didn’t raise their hand if they are familiar with the tradition - this always gets a laugh - and is meant to set up the question why so many have stopped setting resolutions. When I ask the audience “why?” I almost always have someone say, “because we don’t keep them”.
If we are to effectively explore why to make New Year’s resolutions, it’s maybe more helpful to begin with why we don’t adhere to them; and the answer is both biological and attitudinal.
Biologically speaking, our brains, while only about 2% of our body, can burn up to 20% of our fuel. Thinking burns fuel, so not-thinking is more efficient :-) at least when it comes to energy conservation. This is why habit can be so powerful; habit doesn’t burn as much fuel as thinking. The more we think about all the things we need or want to do, the more precious fuel we burn by thinking, which leads to a lesser and lesser likelihood we will actually do anything.
Ever hear of paralysis by analysis?
Research reveals that the more resolutions you set, the less likely it is that you will adhere to any of them.
So, here is your first New Year’s Resolution life hack: set ONE resolution, not more than TWO, at the beginning of the New Year - with a focus on only the first quarter of 2021; at the end of the quarter, review your progress and recommit to your resolution(s) and/or set only one or two new resolutions for the second quarter.
I cannot recommend enough that you read Brian Moran’s book,
“The 12-Week year”
It provides game-changing insights to empower you to overcome the patterns that can lead to no longer setting resolutions.
Now that we have considered biology, let’s consider how our culture has programmed our attitudes.
I love to read and am among the few who have read the book “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy; it is regarded as one of Tolstoy's finest literary achievements and remains a classic of world literature.
Are you impressed that I have read this book? How do you feel when I tell you I have read the first 30 pages of the book, but haven’t finished it?
I will never forget the answer I got from an audience member - after conveying I had only read 30 pages -
I asked, “What did I just do?”
His response didn’t surprise the audience, he said,”You admitted to it.”
To which I said, “Admitted to what?”
He said, “You admitted to your failure”.
Awe, what a gift to hear this and to notice in that moment the perspective that has led to so many of us no longer setting New Year’s Resolutions.
Because culturally we have come to applaud more the completion of a difficult task, rather than to applaud the work necessary to complete it.
How am I to ever finish War & Peace if I don’t start it? In fact, I have read 30 more pages of that book than most people will ever read.
So, am I a success or a failure?
Depends on your measurements for success; depends on your attitude.
Most people don’t ever make that first step on the thousand-mile journey, because they are afraid to see themselves as a failure if they don’t finish the thousand miles. How we define success is so very important. We must applaud more the courage and the effort - on the journey - rather than just the completion - of the journey - as being our primary source of satisfaction.
Because life is much more a journey than it is the reaching of any specific destination. Destination-focus leads many to hold a great journey in contempt because a new shiny thing is not yet present. It’s not the Summit that brings the satisfaction, it’s the journey that one takes to get to the Summit.
Celebration at the Summit is always short lived - it’s rewarding, but only in measure to the difficulty endured to get there.
The summit is only the final exclamation mark for a journey that often takes many paragraphs or even chapters to accomplish.
I will continue this New Year theme into the next few posts. But for now, consider making less resolutions and shifting your attitude more-so to the process rather than the outcome.
Our lives are lived now! And as I heard someone say this week, 12:01 am on January 1st, 2021 will be the first time we can truly say Hindsight is 2020 - pun intended!
This year we saw how significantly life can change, not only for us individually, but for all of us around the world. Let’s be more focused in 2021, choose less targets, take aim, and celebrate all the more every step we take towards achievement.
Happy New Year!