A New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope says that four out of five people who make New Year’s resolutions will eventually break them. It further mentioned that a third won’t even make it to the end of January.
There was a time when Oprah Winfrey, who once weighed 237 pounds, famously reduced her weight down to 160. Four years after that, she appeared on the cover of her O magazine, glumly displaying her 200-pound girth.
Such revelations will hardly come as a surprise to repeat offenders – that is, most of us – who make, and break, the same resolutions year after year.
Related post: Why Your New Year Resolutions Haven’t Worked
Why bother making resolutions if you know you will break them in a matter of months or even days?
There are two things to keep in mind when making resolutions.
- Don’t let fear rule.
One of the major things that stops many from moving forward with their goals is the fear of failure. We are afraid of what people might think or say if we don’t achieve what we set out to do. But in the end, which is worse? Failing, or not trying at all? Which one is going to leave you with regret?
- Don’t let despair rule.
I was re-reading George Orwell’s 1984. The ending was depressing – Winston became an extension of Big Brother – the ultimate submission that extinguished the final spark of hope. However, Orwell may be simply making the point that to those in an oppressive situation, it is often difficult to see any hope.
After all, how many of the South Africans in the 1980s foresee how swiftly the apartheid regime would be brought to an end? Yet, it did end.
When people lose hope, they lose their ability to dream, fight and win.
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So make a resolution. Even if achievement is unlikely, you still win because you overcome fear and the future offers hope. Giving up is not the alternative. But we can be smarter about achieving resolutions.
Here are four tips, taken from New Year, New You? Nice Try article.
- Start with big changes, not small ones. It is a strategy likely to yield immediate, noticeable benefits that inspire more positive change.
- Act like the kind of person you are trying to become. Think of yourself as a future you.
- Reframe the situation. Recovering alcoholics have a higher chance of success if they reframe their sober life as a divorce from a toxic love affair with drinking, because they can then look back at their old life as worth fighting for, rather than a sinkhole of regret.
- Don’t do it alone. Find people who are on the same journey. Help them or compete with them – it doesn’t matter. There is strength in numbers.
Now back to Winfrey. Today she is back on the treadmill and off the carbs. Oprah also has certain advantages that the average person doesn’t.
In 2015, Winfrey bought 10% of Weight Watchers at 6.79 per share for USD43mil. In almost no time at all, the share price of Weight Watchers doubled. Today, the share is trading close to USD10, well below the USD28 it changed hands a year or so ago. But Winfrey also lost something else – 30 pounds.
I have been smoking for close to 40 years. For the first time in my life, I have decided to stop smoking. I will quit cold turkey so I can partake in the joy all non-smokers enjoy. I will no longer be a slave to the white stick and I will help others quit. That’s my resolution.
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