This is it, the close of another annual chapter in all of our lives. It is time to wrap up any last tasks for 2014 and start looking toward the year to come. We have many traditions as part of this season - holidays to share with family; parties to see; old friends; and celebrations to usher in the new year. But one tradition seems to stand above them all - resolutions.
As always, this tends to be the time of year everyone chooses to reinvent themselves. We all want to get back to our college figure; or reach out to old friends; or finally take that trip we’ve been meaning to for years…..anything to improve our lives from the previous year.
From my experience as a trainer in a wellness center, I always knew when the biggest rush of new clients would hit the floor. It seemed every 2nd of January brought tens if not hundreds of new members, eager to start their fitness goals for the upcoming calendar year.
I won’t lie, it is very exciting and very easy to get sucked into the resolution fever - and why shouldn’t it be? The atmosphere is almost electric with positive energy of people eager to better themselves and encouraging of others to do the same. It is the one time of year when people truly believe that anyone can change.
Not only that, it’s the sole annual period when seemingly everyone is supportive of each other. I have always been amazed to see perfect strangers go out of their way to help one another and establish new and unexpected friendships. People that normally wouldn’t acknowledge each other on the street have suddenly formed exercise groups and organized training schedules together, all toward one common goal: being healthy.
This phenomena is far from limited just to the gym. Churches, continuing education programs, and volunteer organizations all see substantial rises in participation and members. There is even data to show that family units are bolstered by the efforts of everyone involved working to better themselves and, in turn, better the group.
So why is it this atmosphere of positive change and support is so fleeting? How was it that all of our trainers knew that just as we had seen a mass gathering on January 2nd, we would also witness a mass exodus by mid February?
Just for the fun of it, a colleague and I decided to crunch the numbers of new members at the start of January compared to their retention rates. We found that the average person who joined at the first of the year made it a total of 5 weeks before their efforts began to greatly falter (most never came back after March). Although every one of us could predict this drastic change coming, none of us could explain what caused it.
Unfortunately, I would wager to say the same statistics will be found in any resolution endeavor. Across the board, you will mostly likely see a vibrant surge of new energy and commitment to reaching positive personal gains, only to be met with crushing defeat and attrition a mere two months later.
How is it such a sound and brilliant ideology can fail so miserably, not just once, but every year? Could the problem lie in the execution?
I truly believe the inherent problem in attempting any lifestyle change at the start of a new year is the timing. It is too easy to jump on the bandwagon without making a plan to carry out your goals, and far easier to quit your endeavor when you see everyone around you doing the same.
My challenge to you is to find a new kind of resolution, one that is not limited to a certain season, and that has no specific start or end date. We will call this your No Year’s Resolution. I want you to take the time to find a goal or ambition that you really need to accomplish - something you can pursue for years, or even decades to come.
As soon as you find your answer, don’t waste any time. You should be able to take steps toward your desired changes the very instant you uncover them. Set short and long term goals, and remember, you aren’t changing your actions for a couple months….you are changing your lifestyle permanently.
Following this path is not foolproof; nothing ever is. You will hit bumps in the road along the way, and nothing is ever going to go perfectly according to plan. But your change in attitude is what will lead you to success. Deciding to go after you ambitions the very instant you discover them will prove to be a fruitful endeavor time and time again.
So we’ll say goodbye to 2014 and hopefully to our old way of thinking. Let’s celebrate and raise our glasses to one final resolution: to never again wait to start chasing our dreams. Happy New Year!
HPC Resilience Consultant