Ouch! Did the title just touch a raw nerve? Stress not, empirical data suggests a mere 8% of people succeed in achieving their resolutions. In fact, the West even celebrates 17th January as ‘Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day’ (and I can bet Hallmark came up with this inane idea just to peddle a few extra greeting cards)
The idea for this blog post came up when I chanced upon a list of special days in January. The fact that ‘Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day’ is celebrated doesn’t irk me! But, celebrating it a fortnight into the new year is some alacrity. It is almost like surrendering even before marching to the battlefield. The fear of failure resonates strongly among all of us (me included!) and we try and guise it under a veneer of humour by cracking a lame joke.
Take a moment to think – out of a million goals we could aim to excel in, we pick a handful as our resolutions. There is no denying these are of paramount importance for us. And yet we give up without a serious fight. Isn’t this a paradox!
Let’s look at our resolutions through a goal setting filter and decode what happens in our mind. We begin by setting an audacious target and focus on the ‘what’ and ‘when’. For example – “I want to lose 10 kgs (what) in 3 months (when)”. The area we usually zero in on, odds on favourite, is something we have neglected for a while. Thereby the need to push the panic button!
Then begins the epic battle in our brain – Willpower vs Hard Wiring. While willpower is replete with intent, with alarming certainty it loses to the ‘immovable’ Hard Wiring. David defeating Goliath is not an everyday affair! You miss the very first milestone by a mile. And that is the sad end to the resolution. You sulk for a few days and get over it…Don’t be harsh on yourself. This is how the human brain is designed!
The easiest way to avoid the logjam is to focus on the ‘why’. Be mindful of the purpose and the path will no longer seem that arduous. We often tend to suppress the raison d’etre and fuss over the outcome. From a neuroscience perspective, focusing on the vision engages the Pre Frontal Cortex (thinking centre) and the brain is in a ‘reward’ state. Infact, hard-wiring can seldom be disrupted. However, strong motivation triggers can help create new wiring. Consider this – the same fitness goal mentioned above if worded with a ‘Why’ filter might read – “I want my health to keep pace with my ambition” or “I want to feel as fit and happy as I was on my 30th birthday”. Whatever floats your boat! Better still, what fuels your rocket!
Go ahead, reclaim the lost resolution and launch a counter-attack on your hard-wiring! Something as simple as aligning a resolution with our purpose can be the secret sauce. It is about time, we collectively decide to ditch the ‘what’ and ‘when’ and focus on the ‘why’. Why not?
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Sorbojeet Chatterjee is a marketing consultant, media specialist, certified life coach, avid traveler and a doting dad. He is the Co-Founder of Happ Coach (an online platform for Life Coaches and Mentors). He tweets @sorbojeet