Resolutions are bullshit!?

It's that time of year again. The new year is here and the children are ready with their New Year's letter. On New Year's Eve, it's a tradition to wish each other the best: good health, success at work and a happy family life. What can I wish for you? 

And then come the New Year's resolutions: this year I want to exercise more, I want to eat healthier, I want to drink more water, I want to lose weight, I want to be more assertive at work, I'm going to take more me-time, I want to work less, find a better balance with the family, I want to spend less time on social media, I want to stop smoking, and this time for real! Recognisable? 

Where does it go wrong?

Do you remember your resolutions from last year? Probably yes because they come back every year. And which ones did you actually succeed with? Where does it go wrong? 

Firstly, resolutions are often not specific enough. 'I want to exercise more' is such an example. The vaguer your resolution, the less likely you will achieve it. 

Secondly, motivation and willpower are often lacking. How hard are you willing to work to achieve that goal? Everyone wants to be thin, healthy and sporty, but few put on their running shoes and stick to it. The excuses pile up and we bulldoze our goal further into the future. 

'Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die to get there' – Steve Jobs

Thirdly, we look for short-term solutions for long-term goals. You buy a book and you expect the problem to be solved. You buy expensive running shoes and you hope they'll make you run more. You want to lose weight so you go on a diet, but afterwards you just continue with your bad habits. As long as you think it's okay to eat a bag of crisps while watching TV or to reward yourself with a glass of wine every night because your job demands so much of you, nothing will change structurally and you will always end up in the same situation. 

And lastly, there's no evaluation. There is no one to account to, no one to check how things are after a few days, weeks or months. 

When does it work?

What can we do to make it a success this time? 

Make your goals specific. Think of the SMART principle (SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound). The more specific your goals, the greater your chance of success. If you were to say, “I want to finish the 10 miles in Antwerp in April”, your goal is clear and you can start working towards that goal. Then you can plan to run 3 times a week. You can find running schedules on the internet that will help you with this. 

Please consult an expert for advice. You can find a coach for everything these days. A sports coach, a nutrition coach, a clean-up coach, a life coach, a business coach, etc. A coach helps you set and make specific goals, they motivate and inspire you and keep you accountable. They wield the proverbial big stick. Sometimes you also need new insights, a new mindset and new habits. Only in this way can you find sustainable solutions instead of short-term workarounds. Do you think a coach is too expensive? Then ask yourself how valuable your goal is. Most people use their savings to put out fires or solve problems from the past, but they are afraid to decide to put money into a better future because they aren't sure whether it's the right decision or because they don't dare to make a clear vision about that future. They do spend money on their divorce, but don't invest in their new relationship. They continue to work in a job that doesn't suit them and ultimately suffer a burnout, but don't invest in career guidance or a life coach. It clearly shows where their focus lies. What do you spend your money on: the past or the future? It's your choice. 

Start now. What step can you take right now to get closer to your goal? The big pitfall is to postpone your action until tomorrow or next week and that takes us even further from our goal. Not words, but deeds. Take action, put on your running shoes, stop drinking soda, throw those cigarettes away (why smoke that pack, if you actually want to quit?).  

You don’t cross the ocean just by looking at the water

Did you know?

Every time you make a promise to yourself and then fail to achieve it, you injure your self-image. You damage your self-confidence in this way because your self-image can no longer trust you. It's as if your self-image thinks 'there it is again, that resolution that will never be achieved'. The next time a cake is served, your self-image says 'go ahead and eat it, because you don't keep your resolutions anyway'. And so people constantly disappoint themselves. So be careful with resolutions.

My wishes for the coming year

  • Live here and now. Enjoy every moment and be thankful for the good things in your life.
  • Live consciously. Discover yourself and what you really want. 
  • Feel free to say, do and feel what you want. Be yourself.
  • Learn to trust your feelings, that's your GPS. 
  • Act, every single day. Learn from your mistakes. Be proud of yourself. Do what you love to do with heart and soul. 

I wish you much love, strength and wisdom. 

Patsy Vanleeuwe

Patsy Vanleeuwe

Patsy Vanleeuwe is a life coach and trainer, a mother and a wife. In her coaching practice, she's guided many people to a happier and more successful life. Her knowledge of online platforms and years of experience as a life coach form the perfect combination for creating online programmes for personal development.