Well, here are some statistics to reflect on: 36% of people break resolutions by the end of January. 56% have broken them by July. If these stats are realistic, there must be something serious that gets in our way.
From CBS morning news, here’s one explanation: Our mental energy is naturally (perhaps obviously) depleted throughout the day; and too many “small decisions” contribute to the speed of that decrease. The suggestion is to eliminate small decisions with automatic, previously made decisions — The choices you make ahead of time that eliminate the necessity to contemplate. Examples: The President wears the same color suit daily and eliminates that SMALL decision. Mark Zuckerberg wears simple T-shirts with the same goal in mind. Not distracting ourselves with SMALL choices apparently conserves mental energy for the BIG STUFF… and for the decisions that require maximum will power throughout the day.
I decided to apply this thought to myself … and to my exercise routine. I’m a pretty disciplined work out person…and I see how this principle applies. I don’t contemplate IF I will exercise. I just choose what kind of exercise — cardio, weights, pilates, simple stretches. That just means I have decided TO exercise and the form it takes each day depends on weather, time, energy. The decision drains minimum mental energy. Compare that to the “laboring” many do: should I? can I skip? do I have to?
Think of even more simple examples: brushing your teeth, jumping in the shower — are things we just DO….so perhaps “depleted energy” for hard decisions starts to make more sense. So what if you added some new thoughts to those automatic decisions….think of anything you do that you can DO AHEAD….pick clothes for the next day before you go to bed; pre prepare all the ingredients for your smoothie or simply decide to have set breakfast decisions….think of as many things as possible that you could “put in place” on a regular basis, saving your mental energy for decisions that are truly challenging, demanding BIG energy, discipline, will power, clear thinking.
Try applying the concept as you look at your goals or what you have “resolved” for the new year. And keep these points in mind…..
-don’t over do or over estimate what you are able to do
-set a goal; monitor it; reward success; don’t beat up on yourself if you fail
-build in external support by sharing what you are doing with people you are close to — and consider building a cheering squad — positive feedback from others will help a great deal!
Remember change is stressful…go slow and to the extent you can, work on one thing at a time. Build it (whatever it is) into your routine before you add a second change. A good rule of thumb is to try the new behavior for 30 days…then go for another one…and I wish you much success in the new year!