Possibilities Playground Newsletter

Resolutions that Defy the Definition of Insanity

Insanity is often defined as “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” We’ve all been there and done that…maybe even gotten a t-shirt! You know, little things like expecting that by:

  • working harder doing more of the same things, it will result in a promotion
  • having another heart to heart with our love interest to discuss what we need in our relationship, it will result in them keeping the house picked up
  • repeating the same responsibility lecture to our teenagers, it will eventually result in the message getting through their thick skulls

Ha, ha, ha – are you guilty of anything like these? If so and if you want something different in your life, please consider how you’ve attempted to make change – and then don’t do that again! That may sound brazen, but think about it. Does it really make sense to do the same thing over and over, then expect different results?

So why in the world do we continually make and attempt to keep our New Year Resolutions the same way we have before when we typically don’t get the results we’re after? Are we ALL insane?!?!?!”

Maybe, but probably not. Mostly I think behavioral change is incredibly hard without any kind of support. Knowledge about the change you want isn’t enough; demonstrating that you have the skill to do the new behavior once correct isn’t enough; being incredibly motivated to embrace the change you want isn’t enough. That’s why the “self improvement” industry continues to thrive!

Nope – if you want to change your behaviors you’ve also got to have someone to observe you, provide feedback and structure some kind of accountability. That’s why so many Fortune 500 corporations have gone beyond just training and now include coaching as part of their change management solutions…and why individuals are hiring life coaches!

But let’s get back to New Year’s Resolutions. I think there are three primary behaviors responsible for why we don’t keep our resolutions:

  1. we don’t take the time to thoughtfully make them
  2. we get frustrated if we don’t see immediate results
  3. we don’t give ourselves credit for what we do accomplish

Make Thoughtful Resolutions

Go beyond traditional and get personal, after all – your resolutions are all about you! This is easy if you just ask yourself why you want to achieve your resolution. For example – what’s at the heart of wanting to lose weight? Is it the number on the scale, the pant size, the feeling of being attractive, or wanting to be healthy so you can be around to see your kids get married and have kids of their own? If it’s the latter, than your resolution wouldn’t be “lose weight” so much as it would be “turn my health around.” And yes, while your action plan would involve some specific milestones – making it about something bigger helps to keep you engaged.

Once you know what you really want, then ask yourself how that played out in the previous year. Using the same example, when did you feel healthy vs. not? What improved your health vs. not? Knowing what worked and what didn’t will help you create a better action plan. (Remember the definition of insanity!)

So, what does being healthy include? Certainly good blood pressure and cholesterol might be good indicators…and while weight might be, the size of your pants isn’t. That means don’t add unnecessary constraints or challenges! After all, missing your goal of size ‘x’ may not matter if you still lost 4 sizes in the process!

Break Resolutions into Small Bites

The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, right? Rather than focusing on the end in mind (which may seem unfathomable from where you are now), break it down into small steps.

  • Look at all the health indicators and group activities around them (ie: if an indicator is cholesterol than reducing fried foods could be an activity)
  • Put them in logical order (ie: weight loss would probably be a result of all the other improvements so don’t put that first)
  • Plot them out across the entire year – not all at once (ie: exercise regularly, eat more vegetables, reduce fried foods could be layered out across the first two quarters of the year)
  • You can break them down even further if it helps (ie: break down exercise regularly into 2x/week in January, 3x/week in February, 4x/week in March)

Give Yourself Credit

The last behavior to incorporate is to continually give yourself credit for any forward movement! Regardless of whether or not you meet your deadline, if you’re making forward progress – give yourself credit! This could be as simple as how you reply when someone asks you how you’re doing. Instead of saying, “I’m fine” you could say, “I’m feeling better now that I’ve started going to the gym.” Or “I’m happy that I can set a good example for my kids now that I’m learning to love more vegetables.”

You could also give yourself credit by finding an accountability partner to email your forward progress every week. Even if you were supposed to go to the gym three times and only made it two…you can still email and celebrate the good part about making it twice!

Another way to give yourself credit is by writing in a Resolution Journal regularly and answering one question: “How did I move closer to achieving my resolution today?” Maybe it’s that you researched the gyms closest to you…that you decided on grilled vegetables for a side instead of fries…that you realized you’ve stopped having ice cream every single night without planning it. And don’t worry, even on days where you totally missed the mark – your answer could be something like, “I took the day off and let myself do anything I wanted so I wouldn’t feel deprived.”

It’s all about mindset here – you get to pick how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking…so pick the good ones! If you don’t, I promise the risk of stopping altogether is far greater than the risk of slow but steady progress. Besides, repetitive messaging to your subconscious about how you’re starting to see results will only aid you in the achieving the goals you seek. Remember – you’re subconscious doesn’t know the difference between fact or fiction…it hears everything as pure truth. So, would you rather have it believe you’re happy… that you made it to the gym even with the crazy work schedule this week or that by not going three times this week you’re worried you won’t get back on your schedule. Whatever you think and tell yourself – it’s your choice!

In the end, defying the definition of insanity it totally plausible – it just takes awareness and by getting this far in the article you’re on your way! I’m challenging you today to approach the valuable task of making a New Year’s Resolution with a new set of behaviors. I’m asking you to be aware of what resolutions you’re making and why…of how that’s worked in your life before (both good and bad). I’m asking you to break down your resolution into bite size pieces and to give yourself credit along the way.

These behaviors will go a long way in helping you to recreate your life in a deliberate and purposeful way. I’m offering you an opportunity to stop the cycle of insanity and try a new approach…unless of course you’re happy with the results you’re getting – in which case I say, “Rock on!”

If not and you’d like a little help, I’m doing a 2-part teleseminar that covers the three behaviors I just talked about. Part 1 was about giving yourself credit for what you did do in 2011 and the part 2 is about creating a meaningful resolution and plan for 2012. If you missed part 1, no worries! Register for part 2 and in doing so you’ll get a recording of both sent to you afterwards.


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Resolutions that Defy the Definition of Insanity
by Sara Russell of Feel the Possibilities
Visit Sara at: www.feelthepossibilities.com
Send email to sara@feelthepossibilities.com