Bad news about New Year’s resolutions stinks, and there’s no shortage of it.
There are many reasons I dislike reading unfun facts, and I’m loathe to pass any on.
In brief, it’s estimated as many as half of U.S. adults make New Year’s resolutions. Of that number, some studies suggest 40 to 50 percent lose their resolve by the end of January.
It gets more disheartening: 80 percent of resolution-makers give up their resolutions by the second week of February.
One issue is the notion of potential failure can feed procrastination. We see ourselves in the 80 percent and become less inclined to do what will put us in the 20.
That is, we prolong making a positive change because we allow statistics to convince us we’ll fail.
Another concern is when people are reminded failure is possible — perhaps even a statistical probability — it’s information they readily recall during their tougher moments.
I’m not naive; I believe we have free will. I doubt a headline, sentence or an entire news story is ever the sole reason someone fails to lose weight, quit smoking or become more organized.
With that said, I do believe solutions yield more results than probability charts.
The desire to change and the fact we haven’t — yet — can cause emotional pain and distress. Over time, we become weighed down by what we want to correct, improve, move past or get over.
We tell ourselves things that sound like facts but aren’t: “If I haven’t done it now, I never will,” “It will take too long or cost too much to be worth the effort” or the popular “I’m too old to start now.”
That’s why making initial commitment to change is so important, and so is what follows.
There’s an unspoken pact among my close friends that somehow relies on the notion we’re not all struggling at the same time with the same thing. This assumption seems to allow for a readily available network of support we can call on in tougher moments.
Reaching out is humbling. So is the response, which involves everything from tough love in retail dressing rooms to being talked out of eating an entire French baguette in one sitting.
For me, the act of admitting a weakness to someone I respect helps me refocus. Meanwhile, the friend soothes, gives advice or launches into a lecture, depending on what the situation demands. She also may suggest a compromise I don’t detect on my own, because I’m too focused on either doing nothing or overdoing it.
A term used in the corporate world could be applied to spiritual renewal: “change management.” It is a way of approaching change that factors in the individual going through through the change as well as those around her or him. It focuses us on making and sticking to the plan, maintaining the plan and seeking support.
It makes sense to engage others in an important change to the way things are done at work or other external areas of our lives. The same should apply to personal changes.
This can be tough. Maybe we believe we’re ill-equipped to give advice or believe our own personal progress is too precarious. That’s understandable, but it ignores the fact we’re all in this together.