Jan 5, 2009

Resolving the Resolution Problems....

I have made a single resolution this year, despite the fact that I want to lose weight, correct some self-defeating behaviors, and break some bad habits, etc. all at the same time. I really need to have about five resolutions. You see, this one single resolution will put all the other "usual" resolutions into line. My resolution is to set things straight, all the things that enable me to make what others view as "excuses," to eliminate the "real" problem. I don't consider the things that cause me to fail or to give up excuses, in the literal sense of the word, as they are real, very real. In fact, I rarely ever make a New Year's resolution--If I don't make one, I won't fail, right? In actuality my resolutions are made all throughout the year and mentally added to my to-do list. I don't fail really, as I keep trying too.

Not everything is simply an excuse to NOT do something, despite it appearing that way to the top-notch psychologists or merely to others. The day can simply be too full with all of the other things on our plates or simply with all of the other things that we feel are important or that we simply WANT to do. So the real questions become, "How do I fit THIS in? That which I really do WANT? How do I make it high on MY priority list?"

My intention today was to blog about what it is that makes you or I break our resolutions because I believe I discovered last year what my problem is, as well as the answer to that problem. My problem is addressing all the things that complicate life that aren't "excuses" at all thereby putting the things I actually WANT on a back burner.

I thought I would try to look up an approximate number or percentage of how many resolutions are broken, how long they are kept, etc. real quick. I came across a site with an article implying that there is a science behind keeping and breaking resolutions. I gave it a look/listen. (http://tinyurl.com/9k4sjx)

Apparently, the "willpower muscle" in the brain is weak and "tough" tasks can exhaust the willpower part of your brain, which can cause you to break a New Year's resolution, especially if you have more than one resolution.

When first coming across this audio clip, I almost turned it off after the first few seconds, as I was incredulous. Findings suggested that those who were assigned a 7-digit number to memorize over those assigned a 2-digit number to memorize were almost twice as likely to choose chocolate cake over a fruit salad.

I don't buy that I would choose chocolate cake over a fruit salad and break my resolution to not eat sweets simply because I was assigned a 7-digit number to memorize rather than the 2-digit number. In fact, I KNOW I would choose the cake simply because I wanted the cake. I would view the opportunity to have that chocolate cake as a wonderful or convenient opportunity to eat that piece of cake....that cake I don't keep in the house, make myself, or that isn't readily available to me....see, I would justify why I should eat that rare piece of chocolate cake at that moment. It would be a very real conscious decision for me. I don't EVER have a goal on my mind that doesn't play into my daily decision-making process--I just simply make the choice, consciously; rationalize it; justify it; etc.

However, after thinking on it for a bit, maybe I would chose that cake because the willpower portion of my brain is more taxed by another task, one that isn't necessarily a priority to me, albeit just not as trivial as memorizing a 7-digit number or the "cake." Translation: Despite this audio clip implying it would be a subconscious decision to eat this cake, maybe the fact that I have momentarily placed another task higher in priority or that I have assigned five more tasks an equal weight of importance on the priority scale would thereby render it a subconscious act, i.e. I chose to eat that cake by consciously deciding to, but maybe I might not have if it were my ONLY priority. It is a valid point.

Let me explain further.....let's say that my top 5 current goals, in no specific order, are to lose weight, get my invention to market, get organized from under the mess I allowed people to create around me when I got too tired and temporarily gave up trying, to exercise, and to eat right all an equal importance ranking on my priority scale. I could very easily let eating right slip down a notch from the others on the day I'm viewing accomplishing an invention task critical. I could also let exercising slip down a notch on a day that I need to spend that 45 minutes researching manufacturers instead. Keep in mind that these are all goals no matter what else occurs throughout my day(s) as well. I could see that if I focused on only one goal, there is much less risk that I would choose that cake because it would be first and foremost on my mind, possibly the ONLY thing on my mind.

My work needs to get done, my house needs cleaning (even if only daily pick-ups and not deep cleaning), my invention requires attention, my children require my attention, family members periodically call for attention, friends periodically require attention, my husband requires attention, my marriage requires attention, food needs to be purchased and cooked, errands need to be run, the dog requires attention, the cars need some recall work, dentist appointments, hair appointments, school appointments, bills need to be paid, end-of-the-year reports need to be generated, taxes need to be done, people need to be paid, invoices need to go out, filing needs to be done, etc. (See, I even still left off myself requiring attention, but this is what I'm working toward!)

So how does a multi-tasking mother manage to accomplish it all? We all know that we accomplish many tasks throughout a day, and when you think about it, it is very rarely that you accomplish more than one at a time. You can't simultaneously load the dishwasher and sew some clothing, and if you can, I'd love to meet you! We are also often pulled off task, interrupted in the middle of a task, etc. (says the woman who just absolutely HAD to find a bin for the Diego track that hubbie insisted MUST have a place right now pulling me away from the to-do list of tasks I've placed a priority on.)

To me, with some reflection, the answer is clear.....you may be making the wrong resolutions or setting yourself up for failure straight outta the gate! You need to put systems into place to fix the things that ARE pulling you away, messing up your priority scale, and blocking your progress. Put systems into place that streamline functions and simplify life. Make minor changes to accommodate these new systems to find success. This is what I plan to blog about for the next few months as I fix each and every issue that causes me to gripe or simply causes me frustration.

All five of my goals will remain of equal importance to me, but they are goals and not resolutions. I'm not trying to set myself up for failure, but rather set myself up for success, which is why my resolution is to fix many other things before attempting what I would rather be focusing on. I'm putting the gears in motion for success. I must address the clutter issue, my to-do list, the organization of my family members, their participation/contribution to it all, etc. before I will find even remote triumph or success in the majority of the personal goals I've set for myself, those I consider to be my ultimate resolutions.

This means it is an ongoing process, one I started last April that was sidelined by something I placed greater emphasis on that had a six-month lifespan (a conscious decision). I need to eliminate that which makes me gripe, that which weighs heavily on my mind causing me to feel that neglectful, guilty feeling as I do what I'd rather be doing...that which gets in the way. Care to join me?

What tactics or approaches work for you? How do you find success? What makes you fail? Are they really ONLY excuses? I would love to hear about all the success stories and tips and tricks for accomplishing this success!

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