Ask, “what do I need to change?" Then, ask, “why is that a needed change?" Until you answer the why, the what won’t change.
According to the History channel, “The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.)"
Unless you are trying to appease the gods, don’t make a New Year’s Resolution - they traditionally do not work. I believe the reason is we simply decide “what" needs to change without discovering the real “why" behind it. The why is what will empower the what.
For instance, health clubs plan for their busiest time of the year - January. That is because we decide we need to lose weight and/or get in shape. A typical New Year’s Resolution is, “I’m going to lose X pounds this year". That’s the what - losing weight. We need to ask the “why". Why do I feel the need to lose weight?
Now, that may seem like I’m stating the obvious. I am. But, we need to go deeper.
When we think of asking a question like why we need to lose weight, the obvious answers will sound like, “I know its not healthy to be overweight", “I will feel better if I drop these pounds", “my wife told me to lose weight", and the list can go on.
I propose that these are all the wrong answers. These are not the “why" answers that will cause a permanent change in our behavior. What is?
The real question that we would ask, in this example of a lose-weight Resolution is, “why am I overweight?"
Am I overweight because I over eat at many meals? Is it because I eat the wrong things? Do I over eat because of a low self-esteem? Do I eat the wrong things maybe because of a lack of food education? Maybe we eat the right foods or quantities but we lack physical exercise?
So, you ask, “why do I not exercise? Am I just lazy? Do I lack motivation? Do I have severe physical challenges preventing me from exercising?" Again, the list could go on.
The point is to start ask the really hard “why" questions until you get to the real answers beneath the surface of the what.
In this over-weight example, the real answer to why I need to lose weight might just be, “I have a low self-esteem and eating is my way of coping like drinking is to an alcoholic".
If that turns out to be the real answer to the why question for a person in this example, then the real change this year should not be “losing weight". The real change, and resolution if you must, would be “I will work on developing a healthy self-esteem this year". Maybe part of working on our self-esteem will be to exercise and eat better resulting in losing weight. But, those are the symptoms and byproducts of the “why".
What is your why to the what?
Kevin McCarthy is the bestselling author of BlindSpots – Why Good People Make Bad Choices. He is a professional member of the National Speakers Association and current President of the Oregon chapter, where he recently won Member of the Year. Kevin is a full time keynote speaker, author, trainer and coach helping busy professionals make authentic lasting change. Organizations hire Kevin for transformational leadership and ethics keynotes and training programs.