January is when our hopes and dreams soar sky high. We imagine all the great things we’ll do in the coming year – start our own business, lose weight, write a book, or take that dream vacation.
Research has shown that for most people, the first two weeks of January go pretty smoothly. But by the third week, many people start backsliding on their commitments. By mid-February, most people have stopped going to the gym, shelved the plan for their own business, or haven’t written past the first page of their book.
Psychologists will tell you that there are multiple reasons for this backsliding, including a lack of motivation, setting unrealistic goals, or not having an actionable plan. But ultimately it all comes down to one thing: keeping your promises to yourself.
If you had a doctor’s appointment, would you cancel it or try to reschedule because you didn’t feel like it? Or how about lunch with your best friend? Your mom’s birthday dinner? These are commitments we go out of our way to keep, because they are for someone else.
But when it comes to commitments we make to ourselves, we are too good at rescheduling, and more often, cancelling altogether. We say we’ll get up early to work on our book, but we hit snooze and then don’t write for days. We say we’ll go to the gym three times a week, but then we skip three workouts in a row. We think we can just start again tomorrow, or next week or next month, but the truth is that most times, next week or next month never comes. And before you know it, it’s December again, and you’re making the same new years resolutions you made last year.
This year, make just one resolution: to keep your promises to yourself.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Those days will come up when you’d rather stay in bed than get up and write, or when you’d rather sit on the couch instead of going to the gym. So often “I’ll do it tomorrow” is easier than just getting it done today. But staying in bed, sitting on the couch, and putting off those critical tasks until tomorrow won’t get you where you want to go. Those are the same patterns you have been using your whole life, and they’ve kept you where you are.
If you want to get somewhere new you have to do something new. Let this be your new thing – to keep your promises to yourself.
When you keep your promise to yourself, it might mean doing something you don’t feel like doing in the moment. But feelings come and go. Sometimes you’re motivated, sometimes you’re not. Those feelings are fleeting. Don’t focus on your feelings. Focus on what you’re committed to.
This means getting to the gym. It means planning your new business, and taking steps each day to get it off the ground. It means waking up early, staying up late, or doing other things that aren’t your first choice in the moment. But keeping your promises to yourself means doing things you don’t always want to do, to move you closer to your goals during the year.
Let this be your new years resolution: Keep your promises to yourself. Then go forward and have the most amazing year of your life.