We need to talk about your resolution. You know, that promise you made to yourself that you were going to do this thing that would somehow change your life? Is it starting to feel unachievable? Is there a voice telling you to give up now because you always do? Have you already given up and now you’re feeling…what? Guilt? Shame? Just plain old unhappy? Well you won’t be alone. You see, we’re nearly at the end of January and statistics claim that in the next couple of weeks around 80% of resolutions made at the turn of the year will have been abandoned.
Yet that need not be the place you find yourself. Perhaps you can find a way to make this work. How? Read on for whether giving up is the answer.
When To Reconsider Giving Up
1. When You Didn’t Turn Your Resolution Into a Goal
Resolutions are headlines: get fit, live a healthier life, read more, lose weight, spend less, travel more. They are great for guiding on the spot decision making such as whether to opt for salad or chips, or whether you buy the latte or wait to get to work for a plain old instant, but they are not specific enough or have any measurement associated with them. This can lead to an all or nothing approach and a difficulty in achieving your resolution.
What to do: revisit your resolution and look at how you can make it into a goal with a specific outcome. Be realistic. Read this post and also don’t fall into the other traps below.
2. When You’ve Overcommitted
Going from no gym to an hour a day, everyday, is hard. I know, I’m a gym goer and I really enjoy going to the gym. But if I do four days in a row I’m definitely ready for a break. Then I really look forward to going again next time.
The same applies to any other resolution you made. If you never cook, it is going to be hard to cook everyday without other parts of your life being affected adversely. If you want to read more, something was holding you back in the first place. That thing isn’t going to disappear so trying to read for 30 minutes everyday is going to be a struggle.
What to do: You have to ease in there. Commit to two to three times a week not every day for a year. In fact, you can make it an average, which means that on weeks where you are able to spend more time on something, you have some in the bank for weeks where you have other commitments, preventing you from feeling the guilt of not ticking some imaginary or real box.
3. When you’ve gone too big
They say (whoever “they” are) that we should dream big. Set big goals that are just beyond our reach. That’s fine, just don’t expect to achieve them in the space of a year. There are only so many things that you can change at the same time. If you’ve got more than two big changes in your life then no wonder it’s feeling hard.
What to do? Dial it down. Work on one thing and revisit the rest of the list later, when those things are part of everyday.
Which brings me to:
4.You haven’t made it fit your life
Big changes need to be thought about in the context of the rest of your life. In fact, any change does. Some compromise may be required, some rejigging of schedules.
Then there is the approach. Want to read more but can’t find five minutes to sit down? Try audio books and voilà, it fits your life. You can learn more whilst driving (be careful not to get distracted though!), doing chores, walking to work; you get the picture.
Alternatively, incremental change may be the answer. Cut down the number of colas you have rather than cutting them out completely. Do five minutes of yoga this month, six minutes next, and build up to the 30 minutes you desire. Get up one minute earlier this week, two minutes next, and so on.
5. You’re trying to do it on your own
Sometimes, you have to accept that you just can’t do everything on your own. This doesn’t mean that just because you decided to take up the ukelele that you have to rope your partner, best friend or aunty into doing so too (see why later). No, it means you might need their support to do so, such as having them babysit or pick children up from school. It means negotiating time for yourself with a partner, or changing the day you have coffee with a friend.
It may also mean that you have someone who holds you accountable for your new goal and encourages progress from afar. Someone who, without judgement, will ask how it is going and help get you back on track.
When you absolutely should consider giving up
Carrying on isn’t always the answer though. So when do you decide enough is enough?
1. It’s boring you.
Why have this thing in your life if it isn’t bringing joy?
You may find it’s just the methods you are employing. See point 4 above.
2. You’re only doing it because someone else is
If it isn’t your resolution, chuck it in. No shame. No guilt. Your negativity towards the goal isn’t helping your friend. Instead, commit to being their coach and urging them on. Likelihood is that if they were only doing it if someone did it with them, they might be giving up soon too. (That’s not on you though either so you can put the guilt bot back in its cupboard).
3. You don’t have a good reason why
If you set a resolution or goal because everyone is doing it, then it still isn’t your goal. If you can’t see what outcome it is going to deliver for you specifically then again, it’s not your goal.
In summary, before giving up for good, you should consider:
- Whether it is your goal or someone else’s
- What the specific outcome you were trying to achieve was;
- What alternative approaches can be made and how you can incorporate, not impose, that into your life;
- When you are now likely to achieve your desired outcome (hint: it doesn’t have to be this year)
Remember, too, that the only person who really cares if you continue with your resolution or not is you. Sure, others might have an opinion, but you’ve got to do what makes you happy.
What’re you doing? Specifying, changing, reassessing or ditching?
Don’t forget to catch up with me on my Facebook page, or find me on Twitter (@redheadresolve).
Also, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your resolutions directly with me.