Even as a child I never understood New Year’s resolutions; I’ve never liked them. I don’t get why you would want to add so many things to your to-do list at once. It all seems so overwhelming to me; why try to tackle so much at the same time? I can remember thinking “how am I going to stick to all of these resolutions and get everything done?”
Not only that, why is it you can only resolve to take action on something once a year? Why not April 23rd or July 17th or October 8th? I just never got it and it turns out that my intuition was right – go figure!
Life experience combined with learning about the brain has confirmed my intuition. While resolutions are good things, making several at once is just counter productive. The realities are when we add too many resolutions to an already overloaded life we tend to short circuit. Our brains and our bodies are designed to protect us and overloading ourselves causes both to short circuit. We are doomed from the start!
When we get overloaded and overwhelmed our pre-frontal cortex which is responsible for logical and rational thought turns into a dog that has been let off it’s leash — it just runs wild and generally doesn’t listen — it reverts to bad (old) habits. Add to that a variety of hormones kick in and it all starts to fall apart… or so you think. The good news is, your body is protecting you — it’s telling you that you are trying to do too much. The bad news is, you think you failed. While this is an overly simplistic explanation of why New Year’s resolutions don’t work, hopefully it’s enough to give you some insight.
What can you do? Grab a stack of index cards, a pen and some quite time. Jot down one resolution per card. Next, prioritize these resolutions. If some of those projects seem daunting individually, then break those down into even smaller steps. Now, take your number one priority and put it where you can see it and be regularly reminded of your resolution and tuck the others away. Once you have accomplished the first resolution — completed a project or changed a habit – pull out the second one. Repeat!
By doing one resolution at a time you won’t feel so overloaded and overwhelmed. Instead of feeling like you need to do everything as of January 1st, you can spread them out throughout the year. Grandma always said “one thing at a time” and when it comes to resolutions she was absolutely right!