It’s been said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! It must not only be true about dogs, since only 14% of people over 50 actually achieve their New Year’s resolution each year. This year, a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology at the University of Scranton revealed this dismal statistic. The same study noted that resolutions made by those in their twenties were achieved almost 40% of the time. While still low, it was much higher than their older counterparts.
I’m sure those in their 50’s would contend that resolutions simply become harder to achieve as you near perfection! While the University of Scranton’s research didn’t address the quality angle of resolutions, neither did it address the odds of the older pool of candidates actually remembering what they resolved to do by the time the first week of February rolls around!
The study did reveal, regardless of age, nearly 40% have abandoned their “resolution” by the end of the first month. On the surface, it would seem more appropriate to call these resolutions … New Year’s Intentions. Then, marginal results of successfully achieving them would be expected. Intentions have limited staying-power when only powered by a resolve to achieve them.
This would explain the plethora of failed attempts in both self or workplace improvement. Intentions only go so far, or last only so long, in the case of the University of Scranton study. The problem doesn’t rest in those making the resolution. The problem rests with intention. There is a huge difference between having intentions vs. being intentional.
Being intentional isn’t a New Year’s activity. It’s a way of life!
Being intentional isn’t about a short term fix, but rather a long term strategy. It doesn’t sustain on its own accord. It is, rather, a desired expression of the core which fuels it. Intentions are generally surface level adjustments. They usually lack integrity … because they are rarely integrated to anything within you. They are generally a behavioral adjustment often grounded in meeting the expectations of others. Intentions and resolutions are a means unto themselves.
Being intentional, on the other hand, is a mindset. Your intentionality’s potential is defined by the fuel sparking and sustaining it.
This fuel sits within your core. It is your core values. You must drill for them and refine them. Unlike midnight resolutions, it’s a journey over days, weeks and months. It’s not overnight. There are starts and stops. There’s a mix of clarity and confusion … of conflict and clarification. It’s not a commitment to a new behavior. It’s the discovery of who you are … that ultimately redefines every behavior for you.
The study, at the University of Scranton, wasn’t all bad news. It did note that “people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.” That’s good, yet, becomes exponentially better when the focus of resolution moves from executing an intention to becoming intentional.
For this year, the presents of Hanukkah and Christmas have been unwrapped … yet, for most, the greatest gift of the New Year remains unopened.
For most, this gift has been left wrapped for many years.
Like most gifts, it holds the most potential when it’s opened and actually used. So goes the gift of the values at your core.
Resolve this year to make no New Year’s resolutions! I bet, regardless of your age, it’s one you can actually keep! Come midnight just begin the process of drilling a little at a time … over the days, weeks, and months of your New Year. The gift is waiting to be opened. Become intentional about unwrapping it and then putting into use what you find.
In the end, you will no longer need New Year’s resolutions to begin another year. For becoming intentional, about living what you have discovered at your core, will be all you need … to begin each new day.
May your New Year be filled with 365 new beginnings!