Yesterday many people across the Western world will have started some sort of self-imposed limitation. Most likely an attempt to stop drinking or smoking for the month. Maybe going to the gym every day.
And by February, according to one Forbes study, 80% will have failed.
They don’t fail because we get tricked by our friends or have inherently poor self-control.
We fail because we don’t care enough about it.
Yes, we would like to be more healthy, but rather than go to the gym after work we just really enjoy having a beer with our friends or spending time with our partner.
Yes, we would like to rein in our drinking a bit, but we don’t have a problem with alcohol, so we don’t really need to stop completely. It’s too easy & too trivial to stop completely. And what else are you going to do on a Friday night?
So you need to anchor that resolution to a greater purpose.
If you want to stop drinking for January, what’s the underlying reason? Is it to just prove you can refrain? Or that you are worried that you have a drinking problem? Or that you want to change your long-term drinking habits?
If it’s the latter, then set out your underlying ‘why’ — and the logic of taking this step — very clearly in writing:
“I want to stop drinking for January in order to cut down my regular drinking long-term. This will be achieved by breaking my weekly cycle of Friday binge-drinking & showing me the value of not drinking — feeling fresh on a Saturday morning, trying a new sport on the weekends, not spending a load of money, relaxing & recovering over the weekend.”
Humans crave progress & it tends to drive habit-adoption very effectively (as well as improving happiness).
So it’s important to change your mindset from the short-term (i.e. this is just for January) to the long-term.
When viewed as part of a long-term plan, your resolution for January is just the first step of the journey. It’s tied into a long-term planning of small building blocks, which viewed together are going to transform your life.
You need to visualise you not in February looking a little bit slimmer, but you next December in great physical shape, living an entirely different life full of positive habits & happiness.
Only then will you find the drive in the dark depths of January to stick to the plan & resist that little voice in your head that says, “just one won’t hurt”.
So, by all means, set yourself a resolution. But stop & ask yourself:
Do you really feel strongly about it? If so, why? What greater purpose is this going to serve? Are you willing to commit to a chain of changes in the long-term to make it worthwhile?