Do resolutions fail because of no willpower?
It is that time of year when folks are thinking of setting goals for improvement in the new year. Of course it is common knowledge that precious few of those resolutions survive for longer than thirty days.
I am always amazed at how crowded my gym is in January and how it is back to normal in February!
The usual excuse folks have for not sticking with these goals is a lack of willpower, or not enough time, or unexpected commitments, or really anything which lets them off the hook, so to speak. The truth of the matter is that resolutions and goals generally require change, and change is hard if not done right.
I discuss my view on sustainable change in the post on my philosophy on change and strategies for change in 2016. I also wrote on some very effective change management techniques in this post on three articles on successful change.
One of those three articles I have also linked to at the bottom of this post – it is an article about willpower by Krista Scott-Dixon, blogger at stumptuous.com and coaching curriculum developer / contributor at precisionnutrition.com. Willpower will be critical to your coming change success, and I found this to be a fascinating discussion of how willpower works.
The Power of One – What to Do When Willpower Isn’t Enough
I am linking below to today’s featured article titled “What to Do When Willpower Isn’t Enough” by Darya Rose, neuroscience Ph.D, author, former dieter, proud foodist and the creator of SummerTomato.com. Darya discusses a concept she calls The Power of One, which is to take each attempt at change as “one experiment”.
The point of this approach is that one does not just give up when the first attempt at your change plan does not work. You could view it as an experiment which did not succeed and an opportunity to figure out a new approach will can be your next iteration of the experiment.
Darya suggests you ask three questions about your failed attempt (see the article for these) and then based upon the answers you design another strategy to try on your next experiment. This is a concept of building upon what worked and learning from what didn’t to eventually achieve the change you are seeking.
What I thought was interesting about Krista’s article in relation to Darya’s was that it also discusses willpower in the context of our expectation of the next attempt. After a failed attempt many assume we just ran out of willpower and there is no point to trying again. When led to believe that making the attempt strengthens willpower much as working out strengthens muscles, folks find that they continually do better on subsequent attempts.
The bottom line of all this is that successful change is in many ways an expectations game. If you expect to ultimately fail you will successfully sabotage yourself.
On the other hand if you realistically expect that you will eventually succeed, the inevitable false starts and setbacks won’t stop your eventual progress towards doing just that.
Consider adopting this viewpoint as you try to implement a better life in the new year.