Hey! I hope your day is going well!
I can’t believe that Christmas is over and that we’re about to enter a new year! I know it sounds cliche but it feels like time really does fly by.
I don’t know about you, but this time of the year often brings with it a lot of reflection.
When I reach the end of a calendar year and look back at the year that I just completed, I often will see things that I wish I would have done differently or that I want to improve for the following year.
This is a pretty common phenomenon among many people and it gives way to its offspring- the New Years Resolution.
New Years Resolutions have gotten a pretty bad rap over the years. Many people would even say that New Years Resolutions don’t really work and that they aren’t even worth making. If you or someone you know fall into this category, consider the following.
1. Resolutions are nothing more than goals. Having a goal for the new year gives you direction. It gives you a place to aim for. How silly would it be to get in the car and drive without having any idea where your desired destination is? Having a life without a goal is very similar.
Think about this- what would you like to reflect on during the final week of 2016 and be glad that you worked toward during the previous 12 months? Is it better health? Better relationships? Would you like to learn something new? Would you like to change a bad habit or adopt a good one?
If you make a goal, even a small one, you will have a direction and an aim for the year that will make you much more likely to get what you want.
2. External vs. internal locus of control. These are fancy terms identified by scientists to explain two different and opposing types of thinking.
The external locus of control is the belief that circumstances happen by chance and that actions taken by the individual don’t affect them. The internal locus of control is the belief that actions do matter and that the individual can change his or her circumstances through taking different actions.
It is not uncommon that as individuals age, they tend to become more and more influenced by an external locus of control, especially in regards to their health. This causes them to buy into the idea that because they are getting older things are “just going to happen.”
Buying into this idea creates a cycle where there is less emphasis placed on adopting behaviors that create better health because the belief is that those behaviors don’t really matter anyway. This of course leads to worse health and the self fulfilling prophecy that things are “just happening because they are getting older.”
The best way to break that cycle is to create a goal. Creating a goal is the first and most necessary step to shifting back to the internal locus of control. The person creating the goal is telling themselves through the action of goal setting that their actions DO matter and that they should try to change them in a way that affects their life in a positive way.
By contrast, not setting a goal would be reinforcing the “why bother because it doesn’t matter anyway” belief congruent with the external locus of control. If repeated over a long enough period, this will lead the individual down the cycle towards the self fulfilling prophecy. Don’t let that be your fate!
3. Achieving goals and even working towards goals can actually make you happier. Studies have shown this to be true, but why is it true?
Have you ever had the experience where you had planned in advance that you wanted to get a few things done and then actually did them? For example, let’s say that one day you said “today I’m going to do the dishes, get the car washed and go grocery shopping.” At the end of the day, once you completed those tasks that you had committed to doing, how do you feel about yourself?
Can you think back to a time in your life when you set out to do something more long term like finish school or learn something new? How did you feel about yourself when you reached your goal?
You see, regardless of whether you are setting out to achieve the goals of getting a few things done that only take a couple hours or achieving goals that take a few years, the feeling of accomplishment is there. Accomplishment is one of the simplest joys of life because it can occur so easily. All it takes it setting a goal and achieving it. If done enough this will bring much higher levels of confidence, self esteem and subsequent happiness. Take advantage of it!
I hope that I made a good case for having a New Years Resolution. I encourage you to take the rest of this week and think about one area of your life that you’d like to improve or one goal you’d like to achieve. Next week I’ll expand on this a little bit and discuss the way to set goals to ensure success, but for now just do some reflecting.
You are worth it!!
Chris Vercelli MATm, RTS, CPT
Founder: Non-Fiction Fitness