Happy New Year. December 31st is a good time to take stock of the previous year, assess what we want to keep, toss and improve on, and to plan the direction of the coming year. This is useful and healthy. What isn't healthy is what too many of us do: make resolutions that require us to be perfect, setting ourselves up for failure. Unfortunately, I am one of the millions of people who have already broken my resolution. Maybe you can identify with my story.
I'm writing this on January 13 and have already broken my annual resolution to lose weight by cutting out sugars and exercising more. I make the same resolution every year. Did I really, really, really believe this year's resolution was really, really, really going to stick? Did I have any new evidence to make me think my resolve was somehow stronger this year? No, nada, nyet.
So, why do we feel that we will become a "new" person on January 1? Is December 31 our last day to indulge our detrimental behaviors? Is change as easy as making up your mind, going to sleep, and waking up a new you?
If only. Change is possible, but unless we're talking about tires, it doesn't take minutes or, as with my resolution, overnight. It takes hard work day after day. As the 12 step addiction programs teach, we need to take it one day at a time.
I have been fortunate to witness amazing changes in my clients. I have been coaching long enough to have learned one very important lesson: all change is possible with enough motivation. My most motivated clients, in both word and action, achieve incredible changes, often after only a few months. These clients are honest with themselves and with me, and make the time to do the weekly "homework" I assign to them. Together we become a winning team.
Unlike dogs, it is possible to teach old coaches new tricks. This old coach has resolved to never make another new year's resolution. No longer will I equate the ball dropping in Times Square to a new me. Instead, I'm going to take a page from my work with clients: maintain my level of motivation, take it one day at a time, and do my weekly homework that will move me closer to my goal. Now that's a (non)resolution I can happily live with.