Don’t Make Resolutions

Yesterday many people across the Western world will have started some sort of self-imposed limitation. Most likely an attempt to stop drinking or smoking for the month. Maybe going to the gym every day.

And by February, according to one Forbes study, 80% will have failed.

They don’t fail because we get tricked by our friends or have inherently poor self-control.

We fail because we don’t care enough about it.

Yes, we would like to be more healthy, but rather than go to the gym after work we just really enjoy having a beer with our friends or spending time with our partner.

Yes, we would like to rein in our drinking a bit, but we don’t have a problem with alcohol, so we don’t really need to stop completely. It’s too easy & too trivial to stop completely. And what else are you going to do on a Friday night?

So you need to anchor that resolution to a greater purpose.

 Ask Why

If you want to stop drinking for January, what’s the underlying reason? Is it to just prove you can refrain? Or that you are worried that you have a drinking problem? Or that you want to change your long-term drinking habits?

If it’s the latter, then set out your underlying ‘why’ — and the logic of taking this step — very clearly in writing:

“I want to stop drinking for January in order to cut down my regular drinking long-term. This will be achieved by breaking my weekly cycle of Friday binge-drinking & showing me the value of not drinking — feeling fresh on a Saturday morning, trying a new sport on the weekends, not spending a load of money, relaxing & recovering over the weekend.”

Create Long-Term Goals

Humans crave progress & it tends to drive habit-adoption very effectively (as well as improving happiness).

So it’s important to change your mindset from the short-term (i.e. this is just for January) to the long-term.

When viewed as part of a long-term plan, your resolution for January is just the first step of the journey. It’s tied into a long-term planning of small building blocks, which viewed together are going to transform your life.

You need to visualise you not in February looking a little bit slimmer, but you next December in great physical shape, living an entirely different life full of positive habits & happiness.

Only then will you find the drive in the dark depths of January to stick to the plan & resist that little voice in your head that says, “just one won’t hurt”.

So, by all means, set yourself a resolution. But stop & ask yourself:

Do you really feel strongly about it? If so, why? What greater purpose is this going to serve? Are you willing to commit to a chain of changes in the long-term to make it worthwhile?

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Henry Latham

Henry Latham

Founder, Prod MBA

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