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Five Reasons to Cheer When You Fail to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Five Reasons to Cheer When You Fail to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

You began the year with high hopes, but now your New Year’s resolutions are just memories. You set out to make lots of changes to your life, but you’ve already put some at least some of those resolutions aside. You’ve failed, or so it seems.

As you analyse your “failure”, consider the following before you criticise yourself too much—you might have more to congratulate yourself about than you think.

New Year's Resolution

    1.  It Was the Wrong Resolution

    At the end of last year, you were likely thinking about all sorts of things you wanted to do differently, but you made your list when you were on holiday, at a time when you were feeling relaxed. The resolutions you came up with seemed fine a couple of weeks ago, but now that you’re back into your normal routine, you’re not so sure.

    In fact, you can’t really remember why you thought that list was filled with good resolutions in the first place. At least some of them don’t fit in with what you’re doing either at work or in your life outside work. Some of them are definitely the wrong resolutions. Now that you look closely at them, you can see that you’re right to put some of them to one side and think again.

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    2.  It Was Somebody Else’s New Year’s Resolution

    It’s something that you do at the end of the year: you get together with friends and you all commit to reform some of your bad habits. You discuss what you are going to differently, what you intend to stop doing and which activities you’re going to start doing, or commit to do better.  Perhaps on New Year’s Eve you nodded as someone in the group said:

    “Let’s all agree to ……”

    That’s where your problems started—you agreed to something that wasn’t necessarily on your personal list of priorities. Maybe it was something you hadn’t even considered focusing on this year, but it didn’t seem like a bad idea at the time, and you don’t like to dampen other people’s enthusiasm. However, when you come to think about it, this isn’t a New Year’s resolution you want to work on, so you’ve abandoned it.

    3.  You Felt Obligated to Make It

    When you think about this particular resolution, you say things like:

    “I ought to work on ….”

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    “I really should make a commitment to …”

    Words like “ought” and “should” reveal a lot about you. You know it’s a good idea to take off those extra pounds you put on last year; you know that adopting a more frugal lifestyle would be good for the planet and good for your bank balance, but somehow you know you’re not going to take action.

    Making a New Year’s resolution to force yourself to do something that you’re not ready to do doesn’t work, because you’re not committed to take action.  You don’t actually want to make the changes that fulfilling your resolution would demand of you.

    You can try to goad yourself into making those changes, but it tends not to work. After a while, you stop prodding yourself, or you get fed up with feeling guilty all the time, and you give up on the project.

    Making a New Year’s resolution to do something you really don’t want to do is a bad idea, so It’s not surprising that you’ve abandoned this one.

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    4. You Made Too Many Resolutions

    Quite a few people make long lists of New Year’s resolutions, and the same resolutions tend to crop up every year. You’re going to learn to touch-type;  you’re going to learn to ride a bike; you’re going to exercise twice a week. You end up with so many resolutions, and you would need to make so many changes to your life in order to achieve them, that you really can’t cope with everything on your list.

    When you make New Year’s resolutions remember the SMART formula in full: most people are good at making specific, measurable and time-bound commitments and thus addressing part of the formula. Some even ask if a task can be done, and if the task achievable. It’s the realistic element that so often gets overlooked.

    If you have too much to do, if you have reached the limits of what you can cope with, don’t add anything else to your list of tasks to work on.  It’s not realistic to take on something else.  You just can’t do any more, even if you would like to.

    Taking another look at your New Year’s resolutions and working on the ones you have the personal capacity to fulfill makes a lot of sense—if some of your resolutions have to be put to one side, it’s not a disaster.  It’s good planning.

    5. It’s the Wrong Time to Work on This One

    You have a whole year to work on your New Year’s resolutions and it’s important to remember that some tasks are easier to complete at particular times of the year—there’s no reason to assume that you should start work on all your New Year’s resolutions in January.

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    If you’re very busy at work in the first quarter of the year, it might make sense to work on revising your approach to how you manage your schedule in the second quarter. If you’re determined to become fitter, then the time of year when the weather is at its best is the time when you’ll find it easier to spend more time outdoors taking more exercise.

    When you make New Year’s resolutions, be prepared to pace yourself through the year as you work to complete them.

    Don’t assume you’ve failed to fulfill your resolutions just because you’re not working on them in January.

    Planning For the Future

    Resolutions are great because they bring focus to what you do, and they help you to motivate yourself to succeed at what’s important to you, but your grit and determination to achieve deserve to be focused on the right things. This means you need to be very careful about the resolutions you make when each new year comes.

    Maybe now is the time to cheer that you haven’t keep some of your current New Year’s resolutions. Next year learn from this year’s “failures” and make sure your future resolutions are the right ones.

    Choosing the right battles to fight is always the best way of increasing your chances of victory. Good Luck with 2014, when it arrives.

    Featured photo credit:  Sky train in Bangkok via Shutterstock

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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