Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing. – Abraham Lincoln
Editor’s note: This is a guest article by Mary Beth R. Blackwell
This is the time of year when most people make resolutions to change their lives. Usually it’s in the area of self-improvement like to lose weight, quit smoking, save money, or manage time effectively. These are all admirable goals to accomplish.
And when the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, motivation was high and there was an abundance of enthusiasm to accomplish these resolutions. But, what about now? It is approaching the end of January and do you know where your resolutions are?
If you are like most people, 77% of New Years’ resolutions are a thing of the past within six months of setting them. So what happens to the 77%, and more importantly, what happens with the 23% who keep their resolutions?
What is it that each group does that sets them apart from the other group? The group that is not successful does not just wake up one day and say, “What was I thinking, I can never obtain this goal.”
OK, well maybe some do, but most lose their resolution in a slow fade. This means that over time as obstacles arise and excuses mount up, there is a slow fade of enthusiasm that sucks away our best intentions. It is these obstacles and excuses that keep us from having the life we want.
As each excuse or obstacle arises, these reasons lead to a slow fade of disappointment from a life not lived to fulfillment. Stop and understand this is not a choice we can make. We have no Free Will when it comes to being healthy and happy. We are all put on this earth to do just that – be happy and healthy.
The following are poignant lyrics found in one of my favorite songs, Slow Fade, by Casting Crowns, which best speaks to how our happiness can begin to get away from us before we realize it:
It’s a slow fade when your give yourself away.
It’s a slow fade when black and white turn to grey.
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid, when your give yourself away. People never crumble in a day. It’s a slow fade.
Personally, exercise has been a source of contention for me. I have always been active. I played youth sports and was a three-sport athlete in high school, so it is not that I don’t like to exercise. It is just that I don’t like to exercise. Understand?
Let me explain. I get into doing something like walking, aerobics, swimming, or running. I really get into it, too. I buy all the cool accessories and I stick to my plan of three to five times a week for years. My record is five years which most experts say is more than enough to start a lifelong habit.
I guess I have ADD for exercise, because eventually one thing leads to another, whether it is boredom, injuries, moving away from a gym, or illness, that leads to the loss of my connection to the supposedly life-long habit of exercise. It is as if I justify these reasons as my free get out of jail card to not have to exercise.
But sure enough, when I start to gain weight, get depressed or experience increased boredom and anxiety, I once again realize, hey no free ticket, I have to exercise.
The song Slow Fade may speak to all of us. We don’t just instantly fail to meet our goals and aspirations. It is a slow fade of obstacles, reasons and excuses that keeps us from having the life we want. It is up to us to challenge these reasons and have a no excuses attitude.
The following is a list of 10 ways to keep the slow fade of failure from happening:
- Write your goals daily, preferably first thing each morning and designate specific steps you will take to move closer to the goal. The slow fade goes both ways. You can slowly fade into success as well.
- If you feel like you cannot go at it alone, have an accountability partner. You can support each other to meet your individual goals or you can hire a life coach, personal trainer, nutritionist, and accountant, whatever you need to get the support you need to be successful.
- Attend a motivational training seminar. These programs are meant to psyche you up and energize you to meet goals that you may have thought were not obtainable. Be careful in choosing a reputable program, there are many that just want your money.
- Read a daily blog that is written for inspiration and direction. My favorite is The BridgeMaker. OK, I am partial, but these blogs can be just the shot in the arm you need to stay on task.
- Mark a calendar of when you want to achieve certain goals. Make sure the goals are realistic and obtainable. If you get to a benchmark and your are not where your want to be, take time to assess what went wrong and make the necessary corrections to get back on track. Also, reflect on what is going right and accentuate the positive through celebration.
- Give yourself a reward once the goal has been achieved. This can be something simple or something extravagant. For example, if you quit smoking, use the money you saved from not buying cigarettes and take a vacation at the end of the year.
- Write about how your are feeling in a journal during this journey. Reflect on the good and the not so good stuff. Putting your feelings on paper is a powerful way to examine things like fear of success and self-sabotage. These things are often buried and not realized until it is too late.
- Seek counseling to look at why there is a fear of failure or self-sabotage in your life. A qualified, trained professional can help you take an in-depth look at the things in your past that continue to keep you from getting the life that you want.
- If failure happens, reassess your motivation for setting the resolution in the first place. Was it to get a spouse, boss, or parent off your back? Was it a promise to yourself you really did not want to make; but felt compelled to do? Examining our motivation will many times give us the answers to why we are successful at some things and failures at others.
- Give yourself grace. Failure is a great learning tool and not many people are successful on the first try. Besides, that is why New Year’s comes once a year so we can give it another try if we were not successful the first, second or even tenth time we try. If it is important to you and is something you really want in your life, you will find a way to make it happen. Just believe that you will and don’t give up.
As for me, I am in my second year of running two miles a day for three to five times per week. Some days the motivation is high and others not so much. But, when I see the fade happening, I adjust and refocus to obtaining my goal of staying in shape and being healthy. No compromises here. I deserve it and want it in my life so I can be healthy and happy.