Is The Commitment To Those New Year's Resolutions Waning? It's Not All Your Fault.

Jan 30, 2019

We are about a month into 2019. And this is about the time when our commitment to those well-intentioned New Year's resolutions starts to diminish. Don't worry. This is not a pep talk about getting back on track. And it is not a reprimand either about failing to stick with resolutions. Consider it a green light to ditch those resolutions and consider other more effective ways to make positive life changes.

Central Texas life and relationship coaches Junice and Rock Rockman are certified by an International Coaching Federation-accredited program. They are not shy about their hope that everyone will abandon — yes, abandon — whatever resolutions they made at the beginning of the year.

The Rockmans support the desire to make positive improvements in our habits and lives. But they believe resolutions are not necessarily the best way to go about that.

"People get excited. But excitement only lasts for so long," says Rock. "After the excitement fades away, now you have to do the real work. And what does that look like. When folks get into what the real work looks like, it's easy for it to fall off."

Read on and listen to the Rockmans' interview with KUT for more on why we struggle with New Year's resolutions.

This transscript has been edited lightly for clarity.

Rock Rockman: So you're really motivated. It's a new year. There's all the hype that's around that, but excitement only lasts for so long. After the excitement fades away — now you have to do the real work. And what does that look like? When folks get into what the real work looks like, it's easy for it to fall off. It's easy for us to fall back into our old habits.

Junice Rockman: We're creating this idealized image of our self. It's not realistic; it's not realistic and attainable. What happens though a lot of times is that people end up becoming more discouraged or more disappointed because they set these things out and they're like 'gosh I just failed at this.' And so that's why sometimes you almost hear the joke around the table: What's your resolution for this year? To try and go back and fulfill all the resolutions for the last decade!

KUT: Why do we plan out and plot new year's resolutions that are are out of reach or that aren't realistic?

Rock Rockman: Part of it is the dream big factor. So going into the future, it's a new year. You hear so many people say 'this is going to be the best year of my life.' When you think about it — when the new year came and went from Monday to Tuesday — not much changed. OK. From 2018 2019. But at the end of the day, what's so much different in your life from Monday to Tuesday? But we get so excited about the big picture — it being a new year and a new opportunity and a new chance to get it right. And I think that's part of the reason why we fail. We go too big instead of making just little minor changes.

Junice Rockman: We kind of have almost these three selves we have to reconcile: our ideal self, which is the person that wakes up on time and we stretch and we meditate and we go give to someone in need; and then we have this real self, which is who we really are, which is oversleeping and not necessarily being charitable and not necessarily being that mannerly at all times. And then we have sort of the actual self, which is if we were to kind of combine a little bit of of that ideal person and merge that with who we really are, we could self-actualize. So I do think that there's some room for setting intentions. We're saying we want you to consider to ditch your New Year's resolution instead of just making something this big event and this big declaration. See if you can set intentions on a regular basis.

KUT: So what's the difference between setting an intention like that and setting a New Year's resolution?

Junice Rockman: The idea of intentionality — it calls into our consciousness a level of self-awareness. We become more aware of something that we want to attain. And when I do work with folks in coaching on goal-setting, we usually look a little bit more at a three to five-year trajectory and we try and keep them really really simple sort of like the smart goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and then with a Timetable. I have seen more people fulfilled a three to five-year plan than say I'm going to do this in the next six months or 12 months because we don't usually factor in all the things that might get in the way.

Rock Rockman: What people forget is that goals are made to be adjusted. We set this goal and we have to tweak it based on, 'Is it working out for us right now? What is my lifestyle looking like?' Maybe I went too big on that goal. Let goal-setting be a regular part of your lifestyle. This could happen in June. This can happen in July. This can happen quarterly. This can happen monthly.

KUT: Aren't we such a short-term gratification society though? My New Year's resolution: 'I'm going to lose 50 pounds in three months.' It seems like we always want that instant success. We want it fast and we want something very quickly and we want something that's really obvious to everybody so we can show off our success.

Junice Rockman: Which also brings it to our topic — also this idea where you talk about people seeing our results — this idea of accountability. I do think it's kind of a cool idea to be around like-minded people. Maybe just one or two or even if you have a group circle of support of accountability, which is why a lot of times people will get a coach or a trainer or an adviser or an investment adviser or something like that. So you can have someone else call you to the carpet: 'OK, well, if your intention was to do this — but you're going in the exact opposite direction.'

KUT: I'm wondering if there's something about resolutions and goals where we sort of psych ourselves out. We make such a big deal out of it and it just becomes a big thing. And that is one of the things that gets in our way of achieving it. Is there a way to take some of these intentions and not make such a big deal out of them but still integrate them into our lives?

Junice Rockman: The idea of small incremental changes as we go. And then it's kind of stopping to smell the roses and being in the moment. If you decide that I'm still going to set — I have already done a resolution or two. No one will stop me. That's actually OK. But in the process, try to be at the moment too of what you have accomplished in your life already and then maybe an incremental change of what you want to do because sometimes as you were saying, Jennifer, it becomes such a big deal that we almost feel like 'now that this out there, I've done my work. I have this big list — I'm done.'

KUT: Did you all set any goals or intentions or have any thoughts for what you want to achieve in the coming open-ended period of time?

Junice Rockman: I actually did not. Earlier this week I printed out a three- to-five-year sheet because I looked at my old three- to-five year plan and all the stuff on it has pretty much done. So maybe in February maybe I'll start dreamscaping again.

Rock Rockman: I didn't set any resolutions. No. You know we have some goals that we want to hit for the year and like Junice said three- to five-year goals but no new year's resolutions for us.

Junice Rockman: If I can just show up as the most loving, authentic version of myself everyday. I feel like I've accomplished so much.