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Lighthouse - January, 2018.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS – WHY BOTHER?


If you are being completely honest, how many of you will confess that you have frequently failed to keep a New Year’s resolution? The fact is more than 80% of them are never kept. It’s therefore no wonder that the value of making resolutions is easily brought into question. However as each New Year comes round it’s an interesting and easy topic to keep our attention, asking friends what their New Year’s resolutions will be. Whilst it’s said that, ‘Procrastination is the thief of time’; we still keep promising ourselves that we will do better next time. But by making New Year’s resolutions, the greater majority of us are just setting ourselves up for disappointment. So why bother?
There is no doubt that resolutions only succeed when we are resolute. Research shows that we are simply not wired to be suddenly resolute. Becoming so is a brought about by a process, through which we need to go. It needs to take place for any resolution to have any real chance of succeeding. Basically there are four stages to reaching a point where it is reasonable to make a new resolution. So if you are mindful to bother about resolving to do something, here are some markers to help you. Importantly you need to determine what stage you are in.
Stage One is where you are thinking about making a change but, in your heart of hearts, you know you really don’t want to do it. Perhaps, for example, you are being pressured into making a commitment by a well-meaning friend. This approach will not be enough to ensure you succeed.
Stage Two is where you are not only thinking about making a change but you are also considering the practicalities of doing it. You wonder how you will find time to go to the gym. How much is it going to cost? Will it make me too tired to do other things? How will I benefit? At this stage you are actively considering the situation. This is important because without having weighed-up the ‘pros and cons’ of a resolution you will be unprepared. As a consequence the first unexpected hurdle you face may well cause you to quit.
Stage Three is where you are out of denial about the benefits of any decision. You really do appreciate the benefits and you now recognise the need for change. At this stage, which is realistically a contemplation period, you have to be prepared for even your friends being for or against you. Some will egg you on and others will tell you that you are about to waste your time. You must be confident that your list of benefits outstrips any list of drawbacks. With this knowledge, a belief in yourself and your ability to succeed should assuage fear of failure.
Stage Four is the place you need to be at when New Year’s Eve arrives. Many of us feel pressured to commit to changes when we are not really ready. Being at Stage Four, when your friends want to know what your resolution is going to be, will enable you to make a really meaningful and achievable resolution pledge. Stage Four is the visualisation period where you are able to see and appreciate where you will be when you have successfully carried out your resolution. Having your end goal in focus, on your horizon, will provide a worthwhile incentive.
Following these four stages will underscore why you should bother – you know you can and will succeed. Once you have started along your new resolution pathway it is also a good ideal to have a plan to assess progress. This should include knowing your specific goals and having a way to appraise results. A fundamental principal of psychology is, ‘If you can measure it, you can change it’. By examining on a regular basis, where you are now, you can judge if you have hit a plateau, are slipping back or moving forward and adjust your efforts accordingly. It is also important to be patient because progress is seldom linear. Some see rapid gains only to slip back later whereas others improve gradually. Remember making sustainable changes really does take time. Even successful people have set-backs. Their difference, which sets them apart from those who fail, is they see everything as a step along the path to success.
So if you really do want to bother making a New Year’s resolution, make sure you are at Stage Four and remember:- It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you are determined enough to get back up. So if you have a temporary slip-up with your resolution, get up and carry on to achieve your goal. Winners always do!

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