Why I Don’t Do New Years Resolutions And Why You Shouldn’t Either
By Mikkel Gisle Johnsen
The final days of 2016 are upon us, and it’s a great time to look forward and set the direction for the year to come. Many of us choose to do this by making ambitious new years resolutions. Unfortunately, as most of us have learned, we rarely end up sticking to them. Personally, I never make new years resolutions – and there are some very specific reasons why! In this month’s article, I’d like to share those reasons with you and tell you all about what I do instead – in order to make my life as productive, fulfilling and satisfying as possible for the year to come!
Fear Based Motivation I’ll get straight into it – New Year’s resolutions are riddled with guilt! The guilt comes in two forms. Either before the resolutions are made, or after. The “pre-resolution” guilt is all about your perceived shortcomings for the year that has passed. Based on the guilt you feel related to these experiences, you decide that this is all about to change next year! The “post-resolution” guilt happens when you fail at sticking to your resolutions in the following year and you end up feeling bad for not being able to meet the goals you set for yourself. It’s a vicious cycle of guilt and negativity.
When we are motivated by fear – it’s like building a house on a bad foundation. It’s bound to collapse!
The Magic Word A good way to spot these “guilty resolutions” is by looking for a specific word. If the word “should” is in any way, shape or form related to your goal setting process – you’re in trouble!
“I should really start eating better”
“I need to get in shape – I should exercise more”
“He’s such a good friend to me, I should really take better care of him”
“I should get my act together once and for all, this can’t go on”
Do you recognize any of these sentiments? We always use the word should whenever we feel like we really ought to do something – despite not really wanting to. You see, when we actually want to do something, we never use that word. When we are truly excited about something, we need no encouragement to get going! A true exercise fanatic never says “I should exercise” – they just do it! Because they are excited about it, and that’s the key!
You’re Lazy! One of the challenges we face is that our social norms basically say that only old people and children are allowed to do what they truly want, while everyone else should, should, should…
We almost feel like it’s a sin to follow our hearts. We have words like “guilty pleasures” that indicate that anything pleasurable is best kept in check, and that if we’re spending too much time doing something we enjoy, we’re just being lazy!
What nonsense! YOU are in charge of your life! You can do whatever you want! You can make your own rules! And the awesome thing is that once you start doing what actually excites you, rather than what you should do – you become more productive, not less! You become a better friend, husband or wife. You become a better mother, father, son or daughter. You become a better employee or a better boss! No matter what you do, once you start should’ing all over yourself, you stop being a productive, happy and fulfilled person!
Doing what excites you creates a spiral of positive energy spreading in all directions. There’s no way of faking it either, you can’t make yourself excited about something you’re not excited about, so you can let go of all those “should’s” right away! Settle into doing what you actually want, rather than trying to do something you think you ought to do just because of some norm or standard, arbitrarily set by other people – or yourself.
Here’s What You Should Do 😉 That being said, there are certainly benefits to setting goals and even having New Year’s resolutions – as long as they are based on a real, honest excitement and passion, rather than fear and guilt.
I therefore recommend that you have two new year’s resolutions this year, and they are as follows:
- 1. I will not spend any amount of time or energy pursuing, or doing, something that I don’t actually want to do. If I don’t positively love doing something, I won’t do it!
- 2. I will spend all my time and energy pursuing, and doing, what I truly want to do. I will follow my highest excitement at all times, to the best of my ability, without fear or expectations. Like a child, I will disregard the norms, rules and standards while cultivating my passion and following my heart!
You might also find that you are excited not only about the project itself but about the idea of finishing it! Great! The key is to be guided by excitement and love – not fear and guilt!
I wish you a happy new year filled with whatever excites you the most – on a moment to moment basis!