The clock strikes midnight, you and a crowd of your closest compadres exchange bear hugs, swigging cheap champagne and crooning “Auld Lang Sine” a bit flat for the sober ear. There’s an almost tangible electricity in the air and all the hopes in the world rise up and explode like fireworks. You enter the New Year optimistic, floating in the buoyant mirage of good things to come. Inebriated by the festivities, whether you’ve had a few or not, you’re viewing the glass half full (well, it’s completely full if you want to get technical). You’ve outlined your goals, resolutions and restrictions - this is your year, nothing will stop you now.
After a greasy brunch and a full leg jolting, eye batting nap you’re halfway into the first day of the year questioning your motivation and dreading the workday ahead. In the office you’re sluggish and distracted. A week later it seems like all is lost. Resigned in your defeat you reach for the closest tub of Cherry Garcia and chow down. We’ve all been there, setting lofty goals and falling short year after year. However, positive change is within reach, it’s all about the frame of mind. Seriously! Try following these few [relatively] simple steps to bend your perception and you may just conquer those New Year's resolutions.
I’m by no means a life coach, shaman, guru or what have you. However, I’ve been known to set a few personal milestones in my day. So, if you find some value in what I have to say, awesome. If you don’t I won’t take offense. Everyone fails, learns, grows and succeeds differently.
- Expect to fail
“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
Jordan, the most successful player in NBA history, was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Jerry Seinfeld was booed offstage during his first standup performance. The Beatles, arguably the most successful rock band of all time, were rejected by a record company before hitting it big. You will fail, and you will learn from your failures. You will binge, slip, cheat, ache, fall, hurt, cry a little and GET BACK UP. If you dive in expecting perfection you will know what disappointment feels like. Stephen Spielberg was rejected from film school three times and, after 30 years of nearly insurmountable success, finished his BA in 2002.
- Set Small Goals
According to Time magazine the most commonly-broken New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, quit smoking and learn something new (parkour anyone?). Most people go face first, balls out (pardon my French) into the good fight. Abrupt change and cold turkey tactics are rarely successful strategies for the average human.
Sure, we’re the most intelligent beings on the Earth (that's arguable in some cases). Sure we’ve got the neurons to adapt to change, but if you’re looking to lose 20 lbs in a month, quit smoking in a week or learn the art of French cooking in a day, you’ve got a rude awakening to look forward to, my friend. Set small goals, mark off milestones and remember that lasting change will always take time. To put it in perspective, the human genome, the stuff that makes us, well, us, was sequenced just over 10 years ago!
- Trick Yourself
The way I got through the most boring, tedious and downright difficult science classes in undergrad was to convince myself that they were interesting. Someone had to be interested enough in *gag* thermodynamics and electromagnetism to make them a legitimate field of study. Convincing yourself that you like healthy food, for example, may not be as easy as saying “I like this food,” but if you follow the logic that someone likes it, someone lost weight from it and you’re human just like them you may be surprised at just how much you can accomplish. Obviously this varies from condition to condition and person to person, but a little self motivation and trickery can really help pull you through the tougher days. Channel your favorite epic band, Muse for example, and chant “cabbage is deeeeelicious!”
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”
Don’t always take advice as absolute. After all, if we all quit on the third try we’d still be in the middle ages. Everyone will have an opinion about how and why you should change. W.C. Fields, one of the most famous Vaudeville/Broadway comedians to have existed, began his career juggling cigar boxes. Stephen King’s first book, Carrie, was rejected 30 times before it was published and Charles Darwin was only considered an average student before he looked to nature for answers to the deep stuff. He went on to be a pioneer of the Theory of Evolution. Sure you may not be vying to get into law school, publish a best seller or change the way mankind views the origin of species; You may be trying to shed few pounds, stay off the hooch, detach the glue that binds your fingertips to your phone – but the same general rules of success can apply.
You’ve got over 350 days to make good on your promises. So brush ya shoulders off and RELAX - you’ve got this. What tactics are you using to conquer your resolutions this year?