Imagine I offered to give you $5 each day, for a year, beginning on January 1.
The 1st comes and I give you five dollars, and the next day, and the next and I was consistent in giving you the five dollars for say, three weeks. But ’round the 20th of the month I miss a day. On the 21st you’d ask “What happened yesterday? You didn’t give me that five dollars, like you promised and have been for a few weeks now?” I apologize and sheepishly say “Well, I can’t give you yesterday’s money, and I don’t have today’s, but I’ll get back on track tomorrow.
That next day comes and I have the money again, but only $3.50. You think to yourself “Well, this isn’t too bad, but it’s still not the full five dollars?” I apologize and tell you I’ll try and have the full amount tomorrow.
The next day I don’t show up, and over the next couple weeks I only show up half the time, and only sometimes have the full amount. By the end of February I stop showing up. I don’t answer your calls or e-mails and you give up on seeing me, or my daily five dollars, ever again.
What would you call me? How would you describe me, given what I said at the outset and how I behaved?
You probably say I was a liar, at the very least you would say I was dis-h0nest. You might try to give me the benefit of the doubt and say I did my best, but I couldn’t keep up my agreement. You would certainly be very reluctant to trust me again and probably wouldn’t put much stock in what said going forward.
So what is the difference – really – between the scenario I just described and New Year’s resolutions?
There really isn’t a difference. A promise is a promise and a broken promise is a lie.
So what happens when we make New Year’s resolutions and break them? We lie to ourselves.
Lie to yourself and you won’t trust yourself.
Stop trusting yourself and you’ll stop believing that you can do much of anything – and certainly not anything of consequence.
What to do?
1) STOP making New Year’s resolutions.
2) START with manageable, authentic change efforts when they make sense.
Happy New Year!