If you believe the studies – 66% of New Year’s resolutions are broken within 30 days.
In fact, only 8% of people are successful in achieving any of their resolutions.
But the worst part about New Year’s resolutions ISN’T that they’re uselessly ineffective.
The worst part is that they make us terribly unhappy.
According to Amy Cuddy (Harvard Business School social psychologist and one of my favourite TED speakers), we’re horrible at setting reasonable goals. And when we’re not meeting our unreasonable goals, our anxiety rises and our self-worth drops.
But New Year’s resolutions are good for something…
They reveal some of our guiltiest and most shameful secrets.
Normally, when we make New Years Resolutions, it’s to address the most painful feelings of guilt lurking in our subconsciousness.
- If our goal is to exercise more or eat better – it’s because we feel most guilty that we’re neglecting our health.
- If our goal is to enjoy life more, or to pick up a hobby – it’s because we feel most guilty about our lack of life balance.
- If our goal is to knuckle-down on achieving our career or business goals – it’s because we feel most guilty that we’re lagging financially, or lagging in building our own personal legacy.
Normally, we try to hide the shameful truth about this guilt.
But one of the most valuable things you can do is to shine a spotlight on the guilt – and find its deeper cause.
Is it our own human failings? Our lack of consistency, diligence, bravery? Our inability to focus or prioritise what’s important? Our impulsiveness? Our procrastination?
This source of guilt is incredibly important.
This is the real blockage.
This source of guilt isn’t just the obstacle that is stopping the goal from being achieved in the coming year. It’s the reason the goal hasn’t been achieved already.
If we had this one trait, we wouldn’t need the deliberate focus of a New Year’s resolution. The goal would have achieved itself, with little thought or effort.
This is why I’ve been asking clients what their New Year’s resolutions are.
I want to remove the obstacles that have prevented them from achieving their resolutions. Particularly of those obstacles are around human behaviour (e.g. consistency, diligence, bravery, focus, impulsiveness, procrastination).
Human behavioural failings are some of the hardest, and most sinister obstacles to defeat.
Human behaviour is difficult to change in the short-term, and those changes are almost impossible to maintain in the long-term. (Think about the long-term stick rates of diets.)
So why not find a way to remove the human blockage altogether.
Can we bring in a different human who is better at showing the behaviour that is needed? Can we replace the human element with something mechanical, automated or systemised?
If we know that our goal is important…
If we know that we will feel guilt for not achieving it…
If we know that achieving our goal relies on overcoming limitations in human behaviour…
If we know that changing human behaviour is difficult in the short-term, and inconsistent in the long-term…
And if we can find a way to overcome these limitations by removing them entirely…
…Then we remove the fatal flaw that has prevented us from achieving our goal already, and completely change the chances of success – stacking the odds in our favour.