It's that time of the year where we all make our New Year's Resolutions. What is everyone's resolution? Do you keep that resolution or will it fade after a month or so?
Cool question, @Robert Sarna! Way to go for starting a chain :-) Interesting topic because people have varying views on the validity of resolutions. Were I to choose, my resolution is: to continue down a path of economic, emotional and fiscal independence; with a few nuances built in for each. As far as will it fade - it wouldn't be in my best interest to allow it to <3 What about you, @Robert Sarna; any resolutions?
Hi @Angela Johnson, I make resolutions, but they're usually too general. They revolve around money, health and family. I'm gonna try making them more specific.
good topic!! I am not one for resolutions, but I do like the idea of a new year and beginnings. A few years ago, I read about choosing a word for the year and loved it.
I was on a girls trip with my mom, aunt and good friend when I shared my word. They loved it and shared theirs. Every year since, we start a text chain to share our words.
My first year was ‘magic’ - being open to the magic of each moment and day and the decisions and connections that occurred throughout the year.
Last year was ‘presence’ - being in the moment, putting the phone away, truly listening to others instead of the voices in my head. I shared this with my team at work and they helped hold me to it when we were in meetings.
Still working on this coming year’s word, but leaning towards ‘breath’ - inspired by @Eileen Mcnally. The power of it, resting in it, and taking a few more🤷🏼♀️. Can report back!
Love this topic @Robert Sarna, certainly something that is very timely. I have many thoughts on how to increase the chances that New Year's resolutions stick beyond the 3 week of January. That being said, before I launch into my thoughts on that, I want to say one thing and then ask the forum a question.
The one thing that I think is important to bring up is that New Year's resolutions aren't a bad thing in the least. I think they get somewhat demonized by the fitness and psychology community because they so often don't work very well for people. For my part, I will say there's a lot of research on effective timing to start a behavior change program (this from the realm of research referred to as chronobiology). Based on the research from this area of study we find that there are more effective times to start a major change than others. Monday's are more effective days to start a change than a Wednesday. Birthday's are more effective days than starting on in the middle of year. Finally, it turns out that January 1st if a very effective day to undertake a new behavior change, as it's the start of new year. If you're interested in finding out a little more about this are of research I'd suggest you check out Daniel Pink's book When. This book looks at the subject of chronobiology and the science of timing and how effective it can be at facilitating effective change. So that was my thought.
Now I want to move to my question. What has everyone noticed about their attempts at new year's resolutions in the past. What kinds of resolutions have worked well? What did you notice about the resolutions you were able to stick with? Were their common themes or thought patterns? What about the resolutions you tried, but failed at keeping? Were there any common themes there? Did you notice some mistakes you consistently made? Before I launch into some good methods for making new year's resolutions stick, I'm curious to know what everyone has already learned. I think we can use this as a backdrop to have a productive discussion around resolutions and how to increase the likelihood of their effectiveness.
Michael E. Stack, BS
CFP CSCS*D CPSAGENT OF CHANGE, CEO, & Exercise Physiologist
@Mike Stack You stole the words out of my mouth about resolutions being demonized and not a bad thing. I think any conscious effort to better yourself and your life is a good thing. Of course having realistic goals with the right type of motivation is important, but I don't think anyone should be embarrassed or afraid to make a New Years Resolution.
I actually have made very few New Years resolutions because I too used to look at them the wrong way but think that I may actually do one this year. I'm not sure yet exactly what it will be but I know for me it will be important to have a specific plan of what I can do daily to move towards the goal. If anyone has answers to Mike's question I would be very interested in hearing them as they could help me with my own resolution and it would be a great discussion like he said. =)
@Lauren Baker (RH) I love the idea of choosing a word for the year to focus on. Magic, presence and breath are great ones. Other then texting mom, aunt and friends about it, is there anything else you do during the year to help you focus on it?
I've found that the only resolutions I've really been able to fulfill have been the ones that have a quantifiable or specific measure of success, even if it's just checking a box that you did it. So for 2020, my resolution is to run a half marathon. I'll start it on the 1st when I register for the Freep International Half in Detroit, and be completed when the race happens in October!
This topic got some attention today. As I stated earlier, I've made resolutions, but they were vague and not really able to be measured and labeled as complete. For this year I'm going to make a realistic resolution that is measurable and specific. I like @Lauren Baker (RH) idea of choosing a word for the year. I liked your word last year of presence. I'll admit I don't always give people who are talking to me my full attention. I have been trying to work on that during the last few weeks. Now, onto creating those attainable resolutions and to pick a word.
Good post Rob!
I would say my resolution for 2020 is to refocus my attention on the things I'm grateful for. We're magnetic beings in that, what we focus on, we attract more of. In 2019, I spent WAY too much time focusing on things based on fear and, as a result, magnified negative thoughts throughout the year. I wouldn't say I regret it because it gave me a lot of insight into the mental grooves I've dug over the course of time, but I definitely want to spend more time making a conscious effort to visualize and act on things that bring me life in 2020.
So I'll say my 2020 New Year's Resolution is this: make moves. I think (A LOT) and have really good ideas, but rarely do those ideas make it out of the queue stage. If I get excited about something, even if I don't know if it's going to be successful, I'm going to make a small move on it. I've learned this past year that, if I fear something (even if I don't know it's true or the likelihood of it happening is infinitesimally small), I make mental moves to focus on it, resist it, and, as a result, it becomes true in my head. If I can do THAT, surely I can manifest things I want as well by refocusing my attention on those things.
I really don't know how to measure this or quantify it, but it's the only thing stopping me from creating an ever-present state of mind where I'm genuinely excited about life, no matter what stage I'm at. I've been there before and, looking back, the happiest times of my life weren't when I reached the top of the mountain, but rather during the times when I was climbing towards the summit, laughing after each small tumble, knowing I was still headed up.
I started this post out as a simple reply, but ended up talking to myself and typing out something that I realized I really needed to type out. Thanks for anyone who read along with me 🤣
@Lauren Baker (RH) - please do report back! Very cool that choosing a word for the year is something that your mom, aunt, good friend and you have all joined in together on. Cheers to connection.
Thank you for the Daniel Pink recommendation, @Mike Stack! Way cool. As for your question for the group, it's challenging to reflect on -
Looking forward to your insights on increasing effectiveness re: resolutions.
@Danny Gossman Cool, man! Way to get out something that you really needed to type out; high five.
Good question! In addition to random texts throughout the year with that group, I typically tell my close friends, who are great at holding me accountable. I also received a book that - two years later - is on display on a shelf called "Something Like Magic." It is in plain view from my kitchen, so I see it regularly and it's a great reminder.
Last year, I told my direct team because I truly felt the word impacted them most. Work meetings for me are FILLED with distractions (emails, IM's, text messages, etc when people don't see me at my desk), and I knew that if anyone could hold me accountable - and would benefit from doing so - it would be them. There were definitely a few slips, but I noticed something else: when I was present: the anxiety that often comes during meetings dissipated because I wasn't trying to do eight things at one time... and I was more productive / able to BE there for my team when they needed me. In those slips, they didn't even usually have to say anything. I would start to feel the anxiety, and I would stop, take a moment and say 'presence' to myself to bring my attention back.
For 2020, I am actually going to pull a word from an exercise I did with a few folks from the Rochester location in summer 2019: Human.
As strange as that sounds, it has meaning to me because I want the reminder that it is okay to be "human" sometimes and not beat myself up for things like feeling emotions (gasp!), experiencing vulnerability; giving myself space to release "perfection" and make mistakes, recognize limits and set boundaries, etc. Also, humans have to BREATHE to survive. Healthy reminder I need to do that from time to time :).
@Mike Stack For me personally, there is a lot of emotion around new year's, and resolutions put additional pressure on those emotions. OR, I would swallow the emotions because "It's a new year and everything is supposed to be wonderful!" I would fret and worry, striving for perfection in my resolutions (true story) and then the self doubt and lack of confidence would creep in. By February, I'd forgotten them.
A word is a simple, bite-sized reflection for me, that I can repeat easily when things get sideways, and helps me interrupt the negative thought patterns (for the most part). And gives me a focal point to look at when setting professional goals / navigating life.
@Robert Sarna - appreciate that you started the conversation on this one! :)
Thanks for the topic @Robert Sarna. I'm not sure if it's a resolution and it's just happening during the New Year, but a goal of mine is to start journaling and reflecting more about my day/ week. I think it's very easy for me to go through the motions/ go about my day and not reflect on the importance of the day. Also, in starting that new journey I am trying to incorporate yoga more in to my daily routine as I find it helps to let my mind go and focus just on that task. Doing this behavior instead of sitting on the couch watching netflix I think is a great behavior change I'm incorporating😜
Per my FB post earlier this week,
"2019 felt like one big obligation - running from one thing to the next, especially the last two months of the year.
2020's main resolution is to get back to doing what I want, versus what I feel an obligation to do. Go back to focusing on my diet and exercise, committing to things and people that make me happy and healthy, running more, working on the house and getting organized and parring down all the crap we have around here.
Oh, yeah. And no wedding this year."
So, in that vein, I've got my classes basically scheduled for the next two months; we're going to do a dry-ish January and limiting eating out to 1x per week (because we are realistic about out very busy, two-income-no-kids lifestyle); I'm back actively logging what I ingest; and I'm committing to running 1 mile per day for the month, whether it's outside or on a treadmill.
Great everyone...keep the posts coming, I'd love to see a few more New Year's resolutions up here before I throw some thoughts on this topic on the thread...keep them coming!!!
A few years ago I was successful in not consuming my favorite junk food for a year. Pure willpower at first but then I kind of forgot about it and didn’t even miss it.
this year I am all about recovery, listening to my body and not trying to push through another workout if it is going to be detrimental to my health or progress. I plan to incorporate more active recovery and cool down into my regimen in hopes that my legs aren’t perpetually blowing up like they have been these last 4-5 months.
I’m also working towards trying to be able to do a pull up again, which means working on my weakest muscle group (back), not further injuring my bad shoulder, and re-losing the few lbs I’ve gained since I was last able to do one. 🤪
Last goal is to put 2,020 miles on my Peloton bike this year. I was around 1,800 miles this past year and 2020 seems like a reasonable goal for 2020. 🙃
A lot of great comments to this post. I've been thinking about resolutions and I've come up with one. I'm going to try and voice my opinion and be open. All through my life I've bottled up my true feelings on stuff, it doesn't sit well after while. It makes me become someone I'm not.
I'm still thinking about more, I'll post as I determine them.
Great, we've got this thread going a little more and I'm happy to see that. Hopefully more people will add some things in as we go here (please ask your friends to add their resolutions as well). As promised, I'll provide my perspective on NY Resolutions and what we can do to make them more successful. Warning, this is going to take a little work and is not necessarily the easiest path to follow, but the return on the invest I'm going to ask you to make will be profound, if you make it. Here are my four rules for making resolutions stick:
NY Resolution Rule 1: Don't just set a goal of accomplishing something, strive to act in accordance with identity you desire. Ok, I know that sounds heavy, but let me break it down in more practical terms. Instead of saying I want to run a 5k, look at it as I want to have the identity of a runner. Instead of saying I want to lose 20lbs, consider viewing it as wanting to have the identity of someone who takes care of their body and values health. Instead of saying you want to write a book, switch your perspective into that of being a writer. Why is this subtle difference so important? Because then you can ask yourself what behaviors you need to perform day in and day out to have that identity. This is a much more sustainable way to look at things. If you just set a simple goal (like run a 5k) it's easy for those behaviors to be transient (and go away quickly), however if you say you want the identity of a runner, those behaviors will persist and become a part of your life. Example, what behaviors do runners perform? They run everyday (or at least very often). What about people who value health, they eat well and exercise often and so on. The point I'm trying to make here is in order for you to get your resolution to stick it needs to be more than just achieving your goal. It is through a shift in your identity that you can really make lasting change.
NY Resolution Rule 2: Focus on living through your values, not just achieving your goals. You might start to think I view goals as bad, I certainly don't they're helpful at giving you a destination, but you need the compass, and values are like compass. Going along with the concept of identity shift, we can go a step further to focusing on living through the values of someone who has a certain identity. Meaning, what kind of values do you currently hold that could be applied to your new identity you're trying to form that can make that more of reality. Maybe it's hard work, or determination, or caring, or compassion. I don't know what yours are, but I can bet one or two of your values can be tied to the identity you're moving towards. Once you determine what those are then focus on living through those values everyday, rather than just achieving your goals. You'll find that achieving a goal is sometimes out of your control entirely (like weight loss for example is dependent on lots of factors, some you don't control). Living through your values, however, is something you can control daily. Consider a day a success if you've lived out your values and move toward the new identity you're trying to create. You can always control if you live through your values, so make that your point of emphasis, if you do you might find goal achievement even matters less because you're so fulfilled by living through your values.
NY Resolution Rule 3: Shrink the change. Change is can be scary, especially if you have a big goal (like losing a bunch of weight or running a 5k and you haven't ran before). So let's think less about the outcome goal (here I am seemingly bashing goals again) and talk more about what skills and habits you'd have perform to achieve that goal. Every goal can be broken down into a series of skills, habits, and behaviors performed frequently. We are, indeed, a product of our habits and behaviors daily. With that said the reality is every big goal can be broken down into a series of smaller goals and smaller steps (things like skills, habits, and behaviors) that make achieving your goals more manageable. With that said, think of what you're trying to accomplish, and ask yourself what are the skills, habits, and behaviors you need to perform to make that goal a reality. Take some time to think, there are certainly a number of large goals that can be broken down into their elemental components. Once you've done that start to think about what is one single step you can take today towards becoming better at that skills, producing that behavior, or developing that habit. When you ask yourself that question, also ask yourself how confident you are you'll be able to do that thing (skill/habit/behavior), put it on a scale of 1-10 (0 = no confidence and 10 = supreme confidence), if it's not a 8, 9, 10, shrink the change down into something smaller that you can rate between an 8-10 and start with that.
NY Resolution Rule 4: Relentlessly practice that skills necessary to achieve your new identity and live out your values. Bottom-line is there is no substitute for practice. The only way you every get good at anything is to practice it over and over again. Once you've determine the skills, habits, and behaviors you need to be successful then you need to apply them everyday, as often as you can. When you do this realize initially you won't be that good, you'll fail, make mistakes, and even feel discouraged - this is totally normal when learning new skills (remember what it was like to learn to ride a bike, lot's of discouragement and mistakes, but you got back on the bike and learned how to ride). Eventually, with practice you'll get better and better at your skills and you'll begin to perform them more automatically and with greater ease. It will, however, take you applying the skills you need to reach your goals everyday and not giving up when things become hard, challenging, or even when you fail. Nothing great comes without practice and the more you practice the better the change of achievement. I said it before and I'll say it again, there is substitute for practice, period, end of story.
As you can see, this is not your standard "lose 20lbs quick" plan that you hear this of year, and that should get you excited, as those plans always fail (I mean always). This represents a different approach, and approach that assumes you want to not achieve a goal, but you want to maintain whatever you achieve for the rest of your life. That take a different approach than what you've taken before. With that said, in summary, let's expand your mind on your NY resolution. Let's level up and look at this as a springboard for lasting and profound change, rather than just something that lasts until February 15th. Shift your identity, live through your values, shrink your change into something that's manageable daily and relentlessly practice. If you do those four things, you can't fail. Give them a try and let me know how it goes. I'm excited to help you on the journey of moving toward your NY resolution!!
I think why my resolutions in the past have not worked out is because I tried to change too many things at one time, and making the goal too big and vague. I haven't made a resolution yet for this year, though I am planning on making it habit changing based and quantifiable. Hopefully that will make me more successful! Actually I know it will! AND I think I just realized what it is! @Danny Gossman typing things out does help you organize your thoughts :) So, by the end of 2020 I want to be able to do a pull up (or more than one!) I know there are certain steps I will need to take in order to increase my strength and of course losing a few more pounds, but with the AFS crew to help me, I should be able to do it - Whoo Hoo!
I love Rule 3. Shrink the Change. When we try to do too much it can be overwhelming and seem impossible. We need to be patient and kind to ourselves in this busy world. Setting smaller goals can help make you more successful in the long run. Set yourself up to be successful at the beginning!
One important thing I think we should be aware of with the "small goals" or "small steps" message is that this doesn't mean that setting your sights high or wanting to make drastic change is a recipe for failure.. nor is it a bad thing.. . If your goal is BIG.. don't feel bad.. you just have to go a little further with it..
We can still set big juicy goals, but we just have to make sure we take the time and do the work to break those big goals down into the smaller, actionable, and palatable steps that will eventually lead to that larger goal...
If your goal is big or vague, start working backwards and try to make it increasingly more actionable as you go.. What can you do today.. this week.. this month.. that is realistic and moves you in the direction of your larger goal?
After you do that, what comes next?
What after that?
This process of breaking the large/more vague goal down into a step by step plan that consists of a number of small goals and plans starts the process of making our goals more process oriented, and greatly increases our chance of success.
I think most goals at their core start as being "big" or "vague".. we just have to work to break them down something like the process outlined above.