You’ve hit the ground running this year and you’re off to a great start. You’ve set your eye on your yearly goals, and you’ve made your resolutions or intentions to get there. You’re feeling motivated and confident in your ability to achieve them. (We are right there with you!)
But if you’re like me, this time of year can really start to get to you. The limited sunlight during winter definitely makes me feel my motivation for anything extra than what I have to do very limited, and upholding my planned resolutions can become somewhat difficult. I may get behind in achieving my goals, possibly even missing time working towards them completely. By this point, I often decide, “I might as well just call it quits. What is the point? I’m not even following my resolutions anyway”.
I’m not alone in feeling like this, Business Insider found over half of those who set New Years Resolutions fail in achieving them by the second week of February (aka, last week!).
That statistic had me wondering, why is that? Why do so many of us fall through in working towards a resolution or intention we have set forth for ourselves? How do we work through this to be successful?
Enemy #1: Black and White Thinking
I believe the biggest contender in achieving our new year’s resolutions and intentions is our tendency to engage in black and white thinking (aka polarized thinking). Basically, we assume the “all-or-nothing” attitude, focusing entirely on either the negative or the positive aspects of our goal achieving journey.
Here is a break down of how I see it happen for me;
- When I start to slip on some of my resolutions, I think only about the slight setbacks, missed days, or absences toward achieving our goals.
- By focusing on the negative, I completely forgo the other days or week of hard work and commitment I have already put forth, skewing my perspective on all I have done.
- This makes it feel as though I haven’t anything to show for the goal I’ve set, and possibly, as though I am are failing.
- If I feel as though I am on the brink of failure, and I probably don’t feel very good about myself for a lot of reasons, or my ability to achieve the resolution, intention or goal I set for myself.
- By this point, quitting seems understandable, justified, and ideal.
This year, I’m determined to combat the black and white thinking surrounding the resolutions I’ve set forth for myself. Here is how I plan to stay true to the goals I’ve set out to achieve this year!
Focus on what you have done
In focusing on the positive, we disrupt the negative perception that is harbored in what we “haven’t/aren’t done/doing”, and stop it from continuing, spiraling, and influencing our future decision making to quit our resolution all together.
- Celebrate the times you have put effort towards your resolution!
- Maybe you’ve made a resolution that requires specific duration or frequency of a task, and maybe you’ve fall short in upholding those requirements.
- Missed time and effort toward your resolutions does not take away from the time you have put forth!
- Celebrate the time you have put forth toward you goal, even if it is not the duration or frequency, it is still something, and maybe its more than what you would have done if you didn’t make the resolution at all.
- Write the success LARGE, and the setbacks small.
- I’m still able to focus on what’s important; the positive, what I have done, but I’m not totally ignoring the negative; what I haven’t done.
- In acknowledging parts I still find negative, I allow myself opportunity to make secondary goals or set intentions in improving those aspects, too.
- And, I’m able to see, comparatively, I’m doing just fine in achieving my goals!
When I was talking with Jessica about the topic of this blog post, she shared a personal experience with overcoming this style of thinking to achieve the resolutions and intentions she had set forth in the past.
Jessica had made a resolution to meditate every day… everyday! For those of you that have ever set an “everyday resolution”, you know that sometimes, life just gets in the way of working towards that resolution “everyday”. When you don’t uphold the “everyday” part of your resolution, black and white thinking might creep in, and you may focus more on the time you aren’t working toward your resolution, rather than all that you have.
In this instance, Jessica shared she began focusing on the fact that the resolution had, in fact, helped her to form a new habit of regularly meditating. Regardless of whether or not she upheld doing it “everyday”, she did do it more than if she didn’t set the resolution at all, and that’s what important!
Focus on why you started
If you notice you start to black and white think about your path towards achieving your resolutions, try to connect back to the reason behind the resolution or intention.
Most of us set resolutions and intentions for a purpose. For example, we may make the resolution to eat healthier. We don’t plan to eat better for the sake of eating more broccoli, but for a reason other than simply the task of eating healthier. We plan to eat better because we want to improve our physical health, mental health, aid in the longevity of our existence, aid a physical pain, assuage illness, etc. We make resolutions for a purpose, and that is a beautiful motivator.
- Connect to the purpose of the resolution
- By connecting to the overall purpose of the resolutions and goals we’ve made for ourselves, we remind ourselves of the larger journey we are on
- We shift perspective away from the actual tasks we have completed, or not, and focus more on the growth we have made on the journey we are on toward achieving the goal.
- We may open ourselves up to new and creative ways in pursuing said resolutions and intentions in the new year. And that could add to the potential success.
I made a new years resolution a few years ago to engage in cardio exercise about four to five times a week to help improve my overall mental health. I remember feeling shattered upon missing days of cardio after setting this goal, mostly because of how I felt this translated to my “mental health journey”. But, when I connected back to why I was doing it, to improve my mental health, I was able to tune in to other ways that this could happen, outside of just cardio. I found myself successfully working towards my mental health healing journey in a myriad of ways, new, undiscovered ways, seven days a week, without the pressure of “all-or-nothing”.
It really is all about perspective, y’all. Don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re doing a great job!
Stay connected to our journey! Follow our progress on Instagram as we adventure through the year!