We’re two weeks into 2018 – are you making this the year that’s different? Are you striving to become different?
If you’re like 40 percent of the American population, you have resolved to either start or stop doing something this year. Whether you want to quit a bad habit or adopt a good habit, the odds are against you. According to U.S. News, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the first week of February.
Don’t let that discourage you, though. If 80 percent fail, 20 percent succeed. You’re either two weeks to failure or two weeks to becoming the minority who succeed. If you want to be part of the 20 percent, though, remember this one thing: Your resolution is for you alone, but you cannot do it alone.
Your Resolution is About You
We live in a time when we take it personally any time someone we know makes a lifestyle choice contrary to ours. If you go plant-based, your paleo friends get defensive. If you decide to cut gluten or soy or dairy, a whole laundry list of people line up to tell you why what you’re doing is wrong. If you want to quit smoking, your smoking peers feel threatened. Same with drinking alcohol or coffee.
We contribute to this problem when we crowdsource opinions on how we plan to life our lives. We say we want to quit drinking and they say, “but you don’t drink that much.” We say we want to cut out dairy, and they say, “but you need calcium for your bones.” No matter what you say, someone will tell you it’s wrong.
I’ve had friends gush over the dramatic change in my appearance after adopting a new exercise routine only to cluck their tongue when I shared it focused on heavy weights and minimal cardio. “Be careful with that. It’ll make you bulk up. You don’t want to get big.”
Again, this was the response AFTER they already effusively complimented my results.
That’s why I say that the first step toward a lasting New Year’s resolution is to remember that your resolution is for you and you alone. There is nothing you can say about what you want to do that will please everyone. But even more importantly than that, it doesn’t matter what others say or think. You are the person who benefits most from changing what you say, consume or do. Therefore, yours is the only opinion that matters. Further, you don’t need the negative feedback of family and friends playing on repeat in your head when obstacles arise.
Find Your Tribe
Though making a lifestyle change is and should be personal, you don’t have white-knuckle your way through it all by yourself. Most of us find that new habits are easier to form in community, when we join others on the same journey.
If your goal this year is to quit smoking, for instance, you’re more likely to be successful if you join or create a peer group with other people who are quitting smoking. Because you’re all in it together, you can lift each other up when you’re tempted to buy or borrow cigarettes. You can empathize with each other through cravings, mood swings and all the other things that come with fighting addiction that those not addicted can’t even fathom.
You can also find your tribe online. Today’s affinity-based Facebook groups have replaced the message boards, chat groups and forums of the past. Want to cook more at home but lack time? There’s Instant Pot and batch-cooking groups to help with that. Want to pay off debt? There are several groups for that. If you can think it, there’s a group for it.
I actively participate in several Facebook groups geared to specific goals in my life. Some are private, with invitation-only policies. Others, like the Instant Pot Community, are wide open to the public. What I like most about them is that they offer 24/7 access to information, encouragement and support when I need it. If I have insomnia and decide to make ribs in my Instant Pot at 1 a.m., there is always someone online to help me along the way.
If you can’t find your tribe on your own or need more personalized attention, you can hire your tribe. Professionals trained in the area you’re trying to change — counselors, psychologists, health coaches, personal trainers, etc. – can and will support you and applaud your progress as you move toward making a sustainable like change.
There have been times in my life when I needed all of the above all at the same time, and there have been times when needs have changed over the course of my journey. But one thing has always stayed constant over the years: The resolution is mine and mine alone, but I’ve never been able to do it alone. The good thing is that none of us has to.
Tonya Kubo is co-director of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group, founded by author/speaker Kathi Lipp and based on her best-selling book, Clutter Free. Tonya and her husband, Brian, are raising two spirited girls in the agricultural heart of California. By day, she cultivates community in digital spaces for a public university. At night, you can find her either cooking, cuddling or helping others to fight the demons of comparison, clutter and compulsion.