First the bad news on New Year's resolutions - Only 8% of people who make a New Year's resolution keep that commitment. Worse yet, if you're making a dieting resolution, you have a 5% chance of keeping the weight off, but an 83% or higher chance of gaining back more than you lost. Research shows that resolving to lose weight is actually an indicator you are going to GAIN weight!
Now the good news. You get what you intend, not what you hope for. Change can be real and lasting.
The Random Hope Strategy
Most New Year's resolutions are built on the random hope strategy of life--if I think and feel something, who knows, I might get motivated enough to do something about it. A very few resolutions, 5-8% are built on something very different than random hope--intention. Intention is different than expectation. Intention assumes I'm going to have to work my ass off, but if I do, I'm very likely to get what I am chasing.
There are two words that describe why 92% of people don't keep their resolutions and why the 8% do. First, if you really want to keep your resolution, you'll learn and embrace the word "conation".
Conation is the most important, least known word you'll ever learn about success (we use it as a foundation for helping business owners succeed). Conation is
the will to succeed that shows up in single-minded pursuit of a goal,
or, "Get out of my way, I have somewhere I need to be." Conative people actually don't have to tell people to get out of their way. You can see the determination in their eyes, and you just step aside.
In the 1970s my Mom was a three pack a day smoker. A doctor told her she had pre-cancerous lesions on her larynx from smoking, so that day she quit and never smoked again. She didn't need a New Year's resolution or another week to get her last few smokes in. There was even a full case of Kools in her smoking drawer for another few years before she finally threw it away.
Mom's actions were classic conation. As soon as she knew what she should do, she did it. No ceremony, no waiting period, no walking on coals, chanting at a vision board, or hypnosis. Conation is defined by this--as soon as we know what we should do, we start doing it. Realizing the need is directly followed by action.
Can you see why New Year's resolutions don't work? We "resolve" in early December that we need to do something on New Year's day, while binging on whatever we know we should stop; a sort of extended Mardi Gras that clearly demonstrates we don't actually want to do what we say we want to do. This brings us to the second word--velleity (vah-lay-ity).
Velleity is the second most important word around being successful and is the direct cause of why 92% of resolutions fail. Velleity is,
the desire, with no intention of doing anything.
Wouldn't it be nice if...? Someday I'm going to... I sure hope that... - It's all velleity. We fool ourselves into thinking we actually want change because the emotional desire is so strong--"I really do want it!". But it's just emotional desire, with no intention of actually doing anything.
I can see why Mom was able to be so conative. She once told me, "Chuck, there is no such thing as excuses, there aren't even reasons, there are only priorities." Conation is built on deciding that something (losing weight, stopping smoking, being a better husband, etc.) is more important than something else (food, nicotine sedation, being self-absorbed, etc.). It's all about priorities.
For every well-intentioned resolution to lose weight, stop drinking, call Mom, get sober, be more helpful, control your temper, or finish installing the molding in the kitchen, there are unconscious commitments to keep things exactly the way they are right now. But velleity gives us the cover we need to think we actually want change. The emotional desire to see things differently (velleity) passes for real desire to change something, which results in immediate action (conation).
The Only New Year's Resolution That Will Actually Change Something
Here it is:
I hereby resolve that going forward, I will never again wait for some future date, including New Year's Day, to do something I know I should do. I will be conative and decide that anything worth changing, is worth changing as soon as I recognize it, and that any time I want to put off that change, I will remind myself of velleity--the emotional desire, with no intention of doing anything.
Or the short version:
I know I want to change something, because I'm already doing it. Everything else is just velleity/desire.
Remember, there are no such things as excuses or reasons, just priorities. If it's important enough to change, I will do it now, not later.
Be part of the 8% who succeed - resolve to be conative in 2016. It can change your life!
(Pssst - Don't wait for New Year's Day to resolve to be conative. Waiting is just velleity.)