At the beginning of each year thousands, if not millions of people around the world make ‘new year’s resolutions’, a promise they make to themselves about what they will or won’t do in the new year. “I will exercise more”, “I will give up smoking and eat healthily” are fairly typical. And most people fail.
In a 2007 study by Quikology 52% of participants were confident of success at the start of the year but a year later, only 12% actually achieved their goal.
I’ll say that again: only 12% achieved their goal.
And it is for this reason that I often call them ‘New Year’s Lies’ and refuse to make them.
People generally have no respect for their word, for what they say. People say “yes” when they mean “no”. People say they’ll do something and then let you down, with only “I’m sorry, I forgot” as a fairly hollow excuse. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be allowed to forget. But for the most part we don’t have much regard for what we say.
“That is why you fail.” ~ Yoda
When we don’t have a strong and powerful relationship to what we say, we have no ability to have what we say happen in the world.
12% of people had success with their new year’s resolutions. 12% kept their word.
52% were confident of success. That means that 40% of people overestimated how strong their relationship to their word was. And the other 48% were absolutely right: they weren’t ever going to keep their word throughout the year.
This is why I don’t make new year’s resolutions.
Over the past 11 years I have been training myself to honour my word, to treat my word with respect. I still screw up – often – but I know better than to make a hollow promise just because it is January 1st. If you have a strong relationship to what you say, you can give your word at any time of year.
However, this year I broke my word. I made a new year’s resolution.
“I resolve to learn more.”
Now I have a problem. I have to treat my word with a profound and deep respect.
And that’s a nice problem to have.