Peak Performance Episode 56 – The Real Truth About New Year’s Resolutions

 Nearly 50% of Americans set New Year’s Resolutions but almost all of them fail.

What is a New Year’s Resolution?

A New Year’s resolution is a promise we make to ourselves to be better than we were before.  A New Year Resolutions could be a promise to complete a project,  change a habit, or a commitment to start something anew for their own betterment. When they are made at the beginning of the year, we call them New Year’s Resolutions, when made later in the year, we call them goals.

Ideally the resolution or goal should remain into effect until it’s achieved. Unfortunately, most New Year Resolution are broken fairly shortly after they are made.

History of New Year’s Resolution

It is said that the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions was started by early Babylonians. Their resolution was to return something borrowed, and give themselves a clean slate.

Resolution Stats

About 40 to 45% of adults make one or more New Year’s resolutions each year.

Success/failure rate

• Past the first week: 75%
• Past 2 weeks: 71%
• After one month: 64%
• After 6 months: 46%

Why do we make New Year’s Resolutions?

•    Motivate ourselves
•    Reinvent ourselves
•    Start anew (clean slate)
•    More money
•    Better looking
•    Find happiness

Why do New Year’s Resolutions fail?

Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Canada, says that resolutions are a form of “cultural procrastination,” an effort to reinvent oneself. People make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves, he says. Pychyl argues that people aren’t ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate. Another reason, says Dr. Avya Sharma of the Canadian Obesity Network, is that people set unrealistic goals and expectations in their resolutions.

Psychology professor Peter Herman and his colleagues have identified what they call the “false hope syndrome,” which means their resolution is significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with their internal view of themselves. This principle reflects that of making positive affirmations. When you make positive affirmations about yourself that you don’t really believe, the positive affirmations not only don’t work, they can be damaging to your self-esteem.

The other aspect of failed resolutions lies in the cause and effect relationship. You may think that if you lose weight, or reduce your debts, or exercise more, your entire life will change, and when it doesn’t, you may get discouraged and then you revert back to old behaviors.

Making resolutions work is essentially changing behaviors and in order to do that, you have to change your thinking and “rewire” your brain.  Brain scientists such as Antonio Damasio and Joseph LeDoux and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes have discovered, through the use of MRIs, that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns that create neural pathways and memories, which become the default basis for your behavior when you’re faced with a choice or decision. Trying to change that default thinking by “not trying to do it,” in effect just strengthens it. Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking.

What you can do?

Identify the  obstacles: Besides external ones, what are the internal factors that will stop you?  Are your really ready to change that aspect of yourself?  We find that the internal is always the root of what holds you back.  We use the external reasons as excuses.

 Identify best practices: You can almost guarantee that someone before you has done this. Find out how it was done, then create your own plan.  We should always look to our community (our village) for guidance.

Environment: Make it as easy as you can to achieve success.  If you want to lose weight, join a gym that is close by.  If you want to eat healthy find foods that are acceptable to your palate and easy to prepare.  Plan this, don’t just go in blindly.  Make sure you have the right people around  that support and encourage our efforts.

Clear goals: Make sure you are clear on what you want to accomplish, why you want it.  Make sure it’s the right goal, or you may be disappointed on you results..  For example:  Just because you lost weight, it doesn’t mean that you are going to find the mate of your dreams, it will just mean that you are thinner.  If finding a mate is your goal then, losing weight may be one of the steps in that process, but not be the entire goal.

Action : write down the action steps to make your resolution possible, but also make sure you take action.  Work the plan.

You have a choice: Remembering you have chosen this path is empowering.  You can always choose your next move.  If you fall off the horse, know that you can make a better choice next time.  The real success is in consistently making the choices that bring you closer to the things you desire.

Adopt the Three Ps: These are the qualities Peak Performers use on a regular basis.
•    Persistence
•    Perseverance
•    Patience

When we persist, persevere, and exercise patience, we set ourselves up for excellence.

For full episode click here
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