A new take on the new year

Posted: 3 January, 2014 in Goals

Three statistics heard on the radio this week have given me some motivation to make a couple of important changes for 2014.

Apparently, as much as 90 percent of the population has the same new year’s resolution every year – lose weight and get fit. Now, the fact that such a high number have the same resolution every year obviously means their resolve doesn’t last very long and they revert to old behaviour that sees their goals unmet.

In fact, it was said in the same radio program that of people who do have resolutions more than 75 percent have completely given up on achieving them by March.

The third scary statistic I heard this week is that 80 percent of what we think today is exactly the same as what we thought yesterday. That means, the exact same thoughts I had yesterday and today I will probably have tomorrow. How sad! It’s no coincidence these three statistics are so close in number. It explains why so many of us end up doing the exact same thing every day, sometimes for years, and why so many new year’s resolutions are given up: we don’t alter the thoughts that precede our actions and, therefore, our actions remain the same.

After all, it’s my way of thinking that got me to where I am today.  If every action is preceded by a thought, the best and only permanent way to change my life is to change my thoughts.

People trying to quit smoking or lose weight are encouraged to change the thoughts that keep leading them to pick up a cigarette or chocolate. These thoughts are usually along the lines of justifying why they should “reward” themselves or why they can indulge now and work on making changes another time.

I’ve worked hard all day. I’m better off trying to quit when work is a bit more relaxed.”

“I’ll wait until after [insert name here]’s birthday before trying to diet. It will be too hard to stick to it at a party.”

“I did so well not eating too much/smoking at the work Xmas party I can have a little treat.”

A simple change of thoughts can make all the difference. Instead of telling myself what I’m going to do and justifying it with a very weak excuse, I prefer to ask myself questions. The answers to these questions help bring to mind all the reasons why I’m better off making a more positive choice.

Asking myself, “Why shouldn’t I smoke this cigarette?” or “Why should I eat an apple instead of half that cheesecake?” gets me thinking about the reasons I decided to make these changes in the first place: money wasted on junk food/cigarettes, being tied to an addiction, being unhealthy, etc.
Instead of just telling myself it is OK to give in to temptation I am reminded of why I don’t want to give in.

This year, I’m going to become a different statistic. I’m going to be part of the 25 percent who follow through on their resolutions, and I’m going to join the 20 percent who can think outside the box. Even if this is something as simple as taking a different route to work each day, or picking up a book or movie I would normally avoid. Introducing myself to different opinions, people and philosophies will also help introduce new thoughts and ideas into my stagnant mind. These new thoughts will help produce new actions.

Not a bad way to begin a new year.

  1. ericjbaker says:

    Makes sense. Breaking patterns that seem trivial on the surface may get you in the frame of mind to break bigger patterns.

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