A couple of weeks ago nearly two thirds of the British population will have diligently made well-intended New Year Resolutions in a resolve to get fitter (36% of women and 30% of men), eat more healthily (36% of women and 26% of men) or take more care of their appearance (15% for both women and men). Yet only 31 days later by the end of January 32% will have broken these resolutions (YouGov, 2015). So this year I simply decided to continue with my usual routine that balances work, fitness, healthy eating, family relationships and friendships into everyday life.
The New Year Resolution ritual harks back over 4,000 years ago to ancient Mesopotamia when the Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year (Holloway, 2014). The concept of self-improvement continued through the Roman period and Medieval era with religious overtones and is now firmly embedded in 21st Century Western society life. This entrenched “New Year, New You” social and cultural construct is absurdly timed in the post-Christmas festive lull and coldest winter month of January, not potentially the most conducive to achieve transformational long-standing results.
Resolutions are simply a motivational mechanism to reinvent oneself yet the majority of people aren’t ready to invest mentally or biologically in transformational change. Williams (2014) describes resolutions as a form of “cultural procrastination” as we set unrealistic goals and expectations that are out of alignment with our internal perception. In addition, our human biological process to alter habitual behaviour and change thoughts uses a substantial amount of mental energy to physically rewire neural pathways. Neuro-scientific research has proved through MRI scans that rather ironically the default habitual thought of “not doing” something merely strengthens the neural pathway rather than create new ones. So what's the alternative?
If there’s an inner urge to join the list-making masses opt to celebrate your work and life achievements from 2015 instead. On a monthly basis routinely identify five moments to appreciate yourself, your business, your professional and personal development, your relationships and your successes (check out Facebook page Reach for More. or Twitter @rfmcoaching for my monthly moments). This conscious “attitude of gratitude” process based on positive psychology becomes engrained in our neural pathways. Rational and positive thinking therefore becomes habitual as “conscious appreciation establishes appreciation as an ongoing and stable cognitive habit” (Taylor, 2014). From 2015 the following five top memories stand out and bring a smile:
Joining Sir Ranulph Fiennes and 1,300 other crazy ultra runners complete the Marathon des Sables (running 250km over six days) in the Sahara desert, Morocco and achieving results beyond my wildest dreams to finish 2nd lady overall and in the elite top 50 (Photo 1).