As the date on the calendar shifts to 2016, many people are scrambling to identify their New Year’s resolution. They’re looking for that one thing they can do to change their lives for the better.
Tune into any morning show in the coming days or glance over the headlines of any major news site and you’ll see lots of advice for creating good habits in the coming year. Whether those words of wisdom recommend exercising more often or saving more money, you’ll surely find some helpful tips about all the things you should do.
While all of those strategies may be very healthy, adding more good habits to your already overscheduled life usually isn’t feasible over the long haul. If you’re like most people, you’re already stretched too thin.
That’s one of the reasons why so many New Year’s resolutions fail. Some studies estimate only 8% of people actually achieve what they set out to accomplish in the New Year.
So as you ponder the change you want to make in the coming year, consider whether you have time and energy to start incorporating more good habits to your life. Sometimes, rather than add more things to your day, you can accomplish more by subtracting the things that are holding you back.
Don’t Be the Hamster in a Wheel
Imagine a person who wants to lose weight. She works out 30 minutes a day 3 times a week but the scale isn’t budging. So she decides her New Year’s resolution is to exercise five nights per week in hopes she can lose a few more pounds.
Yet, what she doesn’t address is her eating habits. Every time she goes to the gym, she stops at a fast food restaurant on the way home.
She thinks working out means she’s earned the right to indulge in a treat. Increasing her workouts to five nights per week also means she increased her fast food pit stops to five nights per week.
No matter how much extra exercise she gets, she can’t outrun the extra calories she’s consuming. Until she addresses what’s really holding her back–her poor eating habits–the scale isn’t likely to budge.
Although that example may seem a little far-fetched, that’s exactly what most people do in some way or another. Piling more items onto your to-do list without ever addressing the bad habits that outweigh your efforts isn’t productive.
This type of behavior causes you to become like a hamster in a wheel who stays stuck. No matter how fast or how hard you work, you won’t move forward. Letting go of what you holds you back allows you to work smarter, not harder.
Let it go
You likely have a few self-destructive tendencies that make you feel good in the moment but cause more pain and problems over the long haul. Giving up the things that hold you back is the key to moving forward toward your greatest potential.
While you may have something tangible you need to let go–like a toxic relationship–you may also have less obvious things you should let go of too. Perhaps it’s a destructive emotion, like resentment. Or maybe it’s a detrimental way of thinking, like making catastrophic predictions about your performance.
So rather than create a New Year’s resolution that outlines all the things you should do next year, subtract something from your life. Commit to letting go of the thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that keep you from being your best.