Second week of February! The last few weeks of winter, the new spring collections are already beginning to grace the shop windows and you can’t wait to start shedding all those layers of winter clothing in anticipation of the upcoming spring. Though the weeks of holiday festivities and New Year’s celebrations may feel far away, odds are you may have ventured into 2017 with a set of new goals you’d like to reach this year a.k.a New Year’s Resolutions. Funny thing about the second week of February: did you know that according to studies the second week of February is known for being the week where about 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail?
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then consider yourself one of the lucky few, but if you’re part of the 80% that struggles with this, don’t dismay! Whether it’s about New Year’s resolutions or something that you feel you failed months or years ago, this article’s for you. As Thomas Edison, the inventor of the lightbulb once said for all the times he got it wrong: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10.000 ways that won’t work”.
There’s a fundamental thing we as people need to acknowledge about ourselves: We are (thankfully!) NOT batteries. Oftentimes we go about making life changes like eating healthier, learning new skills or achieving career goals the same way we go about batteries; we start out full of energy and motivation, but along the way we become depleted and lest we find another “power source” we give up or switch off. In our modern day and age we want everything done at once, we don’t want to get there tomorrow; we want to get there yesterday.
Therefore most of us tend to start out really strict, make entire lifestyle changes in a day or week and beat ourselves up when we find it hard to immediately stick to drastic changes or when we are not yet where we want to be. We become mad at ourselves and unforgiving at times, until we once again find our power source/motivation and we feel charged and ready to start over, hoping this time will be different than the last. Alas we fail to realize that if we keep doing the same things we can’t expect different results… And so the cycle continues.
But consider this: if you were going to teach a baby how to walk, you wouldn’t yell or get mad if he/she fell down or is bad at it at first… No, probably not. You would most likely pick that child up with love and compassion and help them try again when they are ready. The same love and compassion that you show others is undoubtedly something that you are also worthy of giving yourself.
And in case you’re still in doubt, according to psychological research it takes about 21 days to form a new habit in our mind, before it is successfully incorporated in to our lifestyle. Gradual change is what we need to aim for since it is more attainable, enjoyable and long-lasting than an immediate life overhaul, hence the saying: “Slow and steady wins the race”.
Of course there will always be stories about people who successfully adapted to drastic lifestyle changes or achieved their goals in record time, but realize that you are your own person and owe it to yourself to be patient and allow yourself to let yourself go through phases of trial and error if necessary. Strive to live every day in harmony with yourself by using self-acceptance and love as motivation, instead of motivating yourself through self-loathing or the idea that you’re not good enough.
Choose to be like a software update; software starts out with the best possible version of itself at the time and will always be programmed to be better than the last, thus making gradual lasting improvements over time. Start today by taking one step in the direction of the goal you want to achieve and stick to it this entire week, then add another step next week and so on.
The day you stop looking at New Year’s resolutions or goals as things that can or should only be achieved with error-free attempts and strictly calculated deadlines, that will be the day you’re New Year’s resolutions will change in to successful life goals. Because in the end: “There is no need to rush. What’s meant for you always arrives right on time”.
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