Bulletproof Your Resolutions, Guys
By Mike Savicki
Let’s start with heartfelt congratulations. You made it through the holidays and dodged all the inside pitches that were thrown at you. Your turkey didn’t spontaneously combust, you found parking spaces on Black Friday, you actually managed to buy a pretty cool gift on Small Business Saturday, your family didn’t drain your PayPal account on Cyber Monday, you tripped exactly zero circuits stringing up 12,534 outdoor holiday lights, your Christmas tree survived both the new dog and a slew of little tugging hands, the relatives didn’t demolish your house (or each other) at Christmas, and you weren’t one battery short when it came to anticipating the “Batteries Required” labels on each and every unexpected gift that was opened under the tree.
Nice job, amigo.
So now it’s New Year’s Eve and the night for you to pat yourself on the back for another year well done. Look in the mirror proudly. Forget that bump or two in the road. Pop the cork on a great bottle of champagne. And then focus your energy like a laser on making 2015 the best year yet.
If your plan is to click open Notepad, tell Siri to take a memo, or grab an old-fashioned pen and paper and jot down a resolution or two because, while you are The Great and Powerful You, and you kick Total Ass, you believe there still is a small, slim margin of room for a bit of self improvement, I’m here to suggest something completely different.
Ever heard the phrase “New Year, new you?” Don’t believe it, it’s just not true.
Want proof? Go ahead and make a list of resolutions for 2015. If that list of yours includes any of the following – drink less, quit smoking, volunteer, save money, get organized, read more, finish your “To Do” list, learn a new skill, or eat healthy and get athletic – you will more than likely fail. And by fail I mean go down in flames fail.
The information about New Year’s resolutions is totally sobering. On average, only about eight percent of people actually succeed at following their resolutions through the entire year. The vast majority doesn’t even make it a month. Many even admit to bailing before the last football game is played on New Year’s Day.
And those items on the list above? They constitute the most common resolutions that people admit to failing each and every year. So cross them off. You don’t want to be one of those people. It’s too hard to change so drastically.
Instead, I propose you take one of two paths on your way to achieving New Year’s Awesomeness. They are quite opposite in each and every way but both paths are bulletproof and guarantee success. So choose your poison and don’t look back, you can never look back.
Path one. Resolve to do nothing. That’s right, the way I see it, instead of resolving to give up, change, modify, or otherwise alter some aspect of your life for an entire year or more, just keep it simple. I’m no psychologist but I do think by resolving to do nothing, you are actually putting your brain into a state of unburdened forward motion, free to learn, try, modify, change and embrace whatever comes your way.
For example, spring comes and you think to yourself, “Paddleboarding sounds cool, I think I’ll try it.” You take a lesson and fall in love with a sport your didn’t know existed way back on New Year’s Day. You get in the best shape of your life, bronze on a Hawaiian waterman-esque tan, discover muscles you never new existed, feel ten years younger, eschew the benefits of coconut water, and rise every day before sunrise to get in your morning paddle.
This would have not likely happened if you were burdened by a written resolution.
Path two. Just do great things. When we make resolutions and put them to paper, they are often vague, poorly planned, built around negative emotions and actions, or are simply unrealistic. That’s why we fail. And failure makes us feel worse, right?
Here’s an unscientific example. If giving up drinking is something you might be considering as a New Year’s resolution, yet you are the type who drinks when you fail at something, making a resolution to stop may actually make your drinking worse. Ditto eating, smoking, etc.
So forget the lists of poorly designed resolutions and leave yourself open to discovering the unknown, unplanned and unexpected in the New Year. Have some fun with whatever change comes your way. And position yourself to embrace opportunity.
One more thing. Whenever you do something great throughout the year, make sure you brag to your buddies about it. “Hey, I took a spin class.” Or “Guess what, last week, I ate organic and dropped a belt size.” We are guys, after all, and, resolutions aside, how we value our greatness will always be measured by letting our buddies know how great we are.
This article was originally published in Currents Magazine in 2015.