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What to Do With Your Broken New Years Resolutions

What to Do With Your Broken New Years Resolutions

By now, it’s entirely likely that your New Years Resolutions are as cold and lifeless as a puppy on Pluto.

You’re not alone. Some 88% of resolutions are destined not to make it anywhere near success, even if you start out with the best of intentions on January 1st. It’s simple to make resolutions year after year; tempting even. You want things to change, you want something better, and the start of a brand new year seems like the perfect time to start and stop all of that “stuff”.

But New Years Resolutions are systemically flawed, and it’s hardly surprising they end up broken and discarded like an old sofa when you consider that they’re normally one of these 3 things:

  • Something you think you should probably stop doing, because it might be “bad”
  • Something you think you should probably start doing, because it’s generally perceived as “good”
  • Something that’s fuelled by guilt or shame, whether it’s something you’ve done or not done

I don’t know about you, but none of those 3 things seems like a good reason to do anything to me.

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Go about a decision with any one of these drivers and you’ve failed before you’ve even started.

Making your decisions based on what popular opinion says you should do or because that’s what your peers are doing seems crazy, right? But you still do it.

Committing to something because a part of you feels like you maybe, kinda, sorta, oughta do it is really just fooling yourself that you’re taking action. But you still do it.

And let’s not dwell too long on the choices you make because it’s what’s expected of you—or perhaps even what you expect of you—which leads to a life of survival, not of living. But you still do it.

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You do these things because they carry zero risk and require minimal effort. They’re easy. And they don’t need you to take a stand in your life.

So what to do instead? What to do with those broken New Years Resolutions? How about trying this.

Start playing.

Playing a great game of tennis, Pictionary, chess or anything else requires you to:

  • Show up
  • Play at your best, even though you don’t know how the game will play out
  • Practice, so you can get better

So pick a game that matters to you.

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Play it because it matters you. Engage with it because it fascinates you, because it might be bloody good fun or because something extraordinary might happen.

Play a game that matters because not playing isn’t an option, because you want the texture of experience that only comes from engaging or because you want to learn to be a great participant.

Play, because you just might win.

Don’t mourn your New Years Resolutions or think less of yourself for not nailing them. Toss them in the trash like a week old, half eaten burrito that you didn’t really want anyway.

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Then make a new choice.

A new choice based on who you are and what really matters to you.

A choice that not only brings the game to life, buts get you in the arena.

Ready to play?

 

More by this author

Steve Errey

Steve is a confidence coach who helps leaders build confidence.

How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence New Years Resolutions Don’t Work – Here’s Why 7 Ways to Stop Being Treated Like a Doormat I Like You a Lot How To Muster Your Confidence And Tell Someone You Like Them Stuck in Rewind. 7 Beliefs That Will Help When You Get Stuck

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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