Why No One Makes New Year’s Resolutions Anymore

February 17, 2014 at 3:06 PM

“You will be somewhere one year from today. Why do so few feel like they have any say where that somewhere will be?” 

I got some answers to that question when doing a survey at work a few weeks ago. I went around and asked about 30 teachers at my school a question. “If you had to make a New Year’s Resolution for 2014, what would it be?” I found an interesting pattern. The young teachers (27-32) were all able to give me an answer quickly, and many, with a surprising level of clarity and enthusiasm, as if it’s been something they had been thinking about. But the older teachers (33 and up) found it hard to answer. Many stated that they no longer make resolutions. A few even blushed and become uncomfortable and emotional, one teacher’s eyes filled with tears. What happened? 

I do not think it is a loss of desire. When I pressed a little, a few opened up and talked about making the same resolutions over and over and always failing. Remember, these are not your run-of-the-mill people. Teachers are a highly educated, disciplined demographic of people. So what happened? 

I think that over the years the enthusiasm of making positive changes gets slowly displaced with discouragement and a loss of faith in the ability to follow through. Worse than that, is the feeling of powerlessness and lack of self-control over their lives. While the young think about a future bright with possibilities, as they get older, those possibilities narrow and narrow into a well-worn, seemingly unescapable rut. The feeling is oppressive, and many escape with eating themselves into obesity. It’s not something we talk about in the lunchroom, but when it comes to overeating, it’s impossible to hide 40 pounds of excess body fat. Impossible to hide it from yourself.

I’m telling you that you can get that faith and enthusiasm back, and follow through with your resolutions. You can have a say in where you will be one year from today and restore faith in your ability to follow through so youthful enthusiasm can reign again. And here’s how.

The biggest mistake when making a resolution like weight loss or getting into shape is really not thinking through the time-cost. I have worked around teachers enough to know they are a busy, focused group of people. Many are females trying to juggle a full time job and responsibilities of being a mother. If I were to walk up to a veteran teacher and ask if they would like to be a part of a new school recycling project I’m launching, I guarantee that before they say yes, there would be commitment questions, like, how often do we meet? What would my involvement be? How long is the project going to last? Etc. These are the same kind of questions that needs to be asked when looking at a New Year’s Resolution. I can tell you weight loss and fitness is a serious time commitment and focus. It will not happen with a little effort here and there. It involves nearly all aspects of your life, including your mental and emotional life. What I’m saying is committing to losing weight or fitness is not what you should start with. It is far more likely there are resolutions that have to be made first to clear a time-path and focus-path, or even an emotional path to get you there. 

For example, slowing down and living a less busy life maybe the first important step to being able to lose 30 pounds. Slowing down and being less busy is not going to be easy. It is a huge adjustment of your values. And many of us are addicted to busyness and don’t even know it. I dare say that for some of you, simply slowing down all by itself, would result in a healthier lifestyle, even eating better. Less fast food, more well thought out home cooked meals. 

Here is what I suggest you do. The New Year is a rare time to step back and think about our lives in a very different way than the rest of the year. Those stepping back moments are vital for the success of any counterintuitive changes you want to make. Get alone, take some time and really think about your life. I have learned that it’s important to make resolutions that have resulted in some thought and self-honesty. Maybe this can be the year of taking more spiritual time for meditation, prayer and reflection instead of racing and survival. See the things you can cut from your life to free more quiet alone time. 

Does how you look and feel represent your deep desires and true values, or does what you see staring back at you after a shower represent a life that is no longer in your control? Being overweight and out of shape are symptoms of a deeper problem. This year make well thought out resolutions that deal with the root issues and not the symptoms. 

Posted in: Weight Loss

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