Let me ask you a personal question: Did you set New Year’s resolutions for 2021? If so, how’s that going?
We’re three weeks into the new year. Many resolutioners have given up on their January 1st aspirations. In fact, motivation wanes for most resolutioners by January 12th, according to data collected by Strava, an online athletic tracking and social media app. Truthfully, less than 8% of all folks that set resolutions will see them through.
There’s been lots of thoughts as to why this is, and how to make resolutions that last and truly change us, from SMART goals to accountability partners, and everything in between. I’ve written and taught about these things many times. But this year is – well, different.
I know you know. I saw a sign today that said, “The first rule of 2021: Don’t talk about 2020.” Amiright??
I thought 2020 had me all jaded about the whole process of resolutions. I mean, if there was ever a year of unpredicted circumstances that could throw off our goal-getting groove – well honey, that was it.
But I’ve been feeling something deeper than that. What resonates with me for 2021 is more tenet than to-do list, more compass than check boxes, more intentions than end points.
And I think it’s in the ether because I listened to three different podcasts from completely different spaces that literally said this exact thing, and maybe you’re feeling it too:
Your resolutions may better serve you if they are less specific and more general. Gone are “goals” and replacing them are “principles.” Bigger, more powerful, life-guiding principles.
This is such a new way of thinking for me that I’m calling them UNresolutions.
Let me give your five reasons why UNresolutions will likely serve you better…
UNresolutions move us from “fix me” negative change energy to positive change. (Ahem, I’m not broken and neither are you.)
Often our resolutions indicate some self-perceived flaw – character, physical, or otherwise – that needs fixing. “Read more books” can be perceived as “stop being so mentally lazy.” Of course, “Lose 25 pounds” means we are too fat, regardless of our actual body composition.
This form of thinking and goal-setting is founded on a fallacy that we are flawed. What we perceive as flaws are the unique qualities of unique individuals.
I’m not referring to behaviors, no. Let me be clear: If you have formed a habit that doesn’t serve you – consistently drinking or eating too much, smoking, regularly staying up too late to watch television – then by all means, address it.
But if you want to “fix” something about your physical self that doesn’t measure up when you compare yourself to a societally-imposed beauty standard, I must object. You. Are. Not. Broken. You are unique and lovely and a perfect result of your DNA’s encoding. No resolution can or should change that.
UNresolutions enforce your uniqueness by helping guide your habits to best serve your true and lasting health.
UNresolutions remove “motivation” from the equation.
Motivation is a fickle and fleeting thing. It tends to settle in hard when we’re feeling rested – ie, after a holiday – or feeling guilty/hung over – also, possibly, after a holiday. When it’s heavy, motivation pushes us to make goals or deadlines that are really too lofty to be realistic. Motivation convinces us we can do it, this time is different, because we’re focused and ready.
But motivation also tends to get chased away easily when we re-enter the daily grind, as is demonstrated in Strava’s data that pinpoints the very day that motivation fails its users. This is precisely why a significant percentage of resolutions are abandoned 2-3 week into January.
UNresolutions are general intentions that empower us to continually move forward rather than stopping altogether when motivation drops us like a needy first date. UNresolutions allow the ephemeral goal of “diet and exercise” to become “let my daily habits serve my health and wellness,” which is a much more powerful guiding principle.
UNresolutions move us from goal-getting to actual life changes.
SMART goals are “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.”
Nothing wrong with that, especially in business. However, when it comes to the health of a dynamic system, SMART goals fall short.
In order to transform our health and fitness, we must adopt a set of behaviors that will allow us to transform our health. But what would happen if, once the goal is met, we stop doing the things that helped us transform? We slip back into old patterns, and inevitably our health backslides until we are no better (and possibly worse) than when we started.
If you set a measurable time-bound goal for your body, once you get it, then what?
There’s a subconscious algorithm running once we hear that word “goal” that will allow us to fall back on old behaviors once the goal is met. If you’ve undergone a weight loss journey before, think back on it to prove this point. Even if you didn’t set out intending to return to old habits, you did or else you wouldn’t feel you have to set this goal again.
UNresolutions are principles from which patterns flow, to allow you to keep going once a goal is met. UNresolutions reshape your lifestyle with habits that serve and transform your health and fitness, and ensure you maintain the results of that shift.
UNresolutions remove failure from the forecast.
Imagine for a moment you have an energetic yet easily distracted friend. Loads of fun to be around and to make plans with. But once the first distraction hits, plans you’ve made together get abandoned for the new shiny object. After a few cycles of this, you’d likely lose trust in your friend.
The same thing applies to your annual list of resolutions. Think about it.
Resolutions would more aptly be named “things we would do if we had 50 more weeks of vacation.” Granted, it’s not as catchy or easy to say as resolutions…
We list things we’d like to see or do in our lives on one of the slowest days of the year, after at least a few days of holiday. Even without intending, we easily neglect to include our regular grinding schedule of work/kids/family/obligations when we’re setting resolutions. When the second or third week of the year rolls around, we’ve gotten distracted again by the clamoring of our regularly scheduled lives.
What do you think this cycle of broken plans, year in and year out, does to your self-trust?
Without trust, failure isn’t an option – it’s a given. If we can’t trust our own intentions, we will never succeed at fulfilling our goals.
UNresolutions are principles and intentions. Set your intention for any given day/week/month, and check in with it regularly, to allow it to guide your actions and behaviors. That way, your path will lead to fulfilled goals, accomplished plans, and self-trust instead of inevitable resolution failure.
UNresolutions move us back to our core values in a meaningful way.
There aren’t many more powerful forces than a life lived authentically. To live this kind of life, we must remain committed to our core values.
By setting UNresolutions – intentions that require us to check in with our life principles and core values regularly – we move away from shallow, tedious activity and toward the values we wish to base our lives on. Where traditional resolutions can continue the unfulfilling run of the hamster wheel, conscious regard of our guiding principles will ensure that we stay on track to our true north.
How to set UNresolutions: Flip the Script
UNresolutions are general guiding principles based in positive energy. They reflect an overarching intention rather than a specific, often unrealistic and unattainable action-oriented goal.
They work because they cover far more ground than the limiting, negative-energy change resolutions tend to point to. They work because they touch a much deeper place of resolve than a traditional resolution. (yes, I did that on purpose)
Let’s look at what separates an UNresolution from a resolution by making some comparisons.
Resolution: “Spend less time scrolling social media.” (good, but can easily be replaced with email)
UNresolution: “Stay present.” (that covers it and goes deeper)
Resolution: “Quit eating sugar.” (well THAT’s (a) realistic (way to set yourself up for failure)!)
UNresolution: “My daily habits will serve my health.” (much more relevant and realistic)
Resolution: “Watch less television.” (to what end?)
UNresolution: “Protect my creative energy.” (thought-provoking, nice!)
Resolution: “Replace every negative thought with three positive ones.” (how exhausting!)
UNresolution: “Be positive.” (mic drop)
Do UNresolutions resonate with you? Tell me which resolutions you can replace with UNresolutions. If you need help, we can get creative together.