At Middle Age, Do New Year’s Resolutions Work–Ever?

Here we are in the middle of January. Have you broken any–or all–of your New Year’s Resolutions yet? If you’re like the “old me”, you broke at least one within the first week. If you’re like 97% of all Americans, you will abandon every one of them by Valentine’s Day. (OK, our results aren’t that scientific; the percentage may be 95%, or 89% but you get the point.)

Making and keeping New Year’s Resolutions is especially difficult for those of us age 45 or older. After all, we’re supposed to be “set in our ways” and highly resistant to trying anything new. Why is it that the vast majority of resolution-makers sabotage the positive life results they so fervently desire?

The answer is painfully simple: resolutions don’t work in a vacuum. If you are burdened down by an overall lack of confidence and a dim outlook on the future, you are highly unlikely to accomplish isolated goals. If you have a negative self-image and a “victim” mentality, you are certain to attract unfavorable results, precisely the opposite of your resolutions. You certainly can’t start from the premise, “What’s wrong with me?”

The most common, tragic end-result from failed New Year’s resolutions is a further reduction in self-esteem: “If I can’t even make myself lose ten pounds, how in the heck am I ever going to change my life for the better? It just goes to confirm what a miserably weak individual I am!”

If nothing else this year, stop beating yourself over the head for failed New Year’s resolutions. In the first place, January 1 is a silly, artificial bench mark. You can just as effectively begin your new start on January 18, March 27,May 3 or October 25. More important than the date, you may first need to reset your “emotional thermostat” from negative to positive. If in your heart and soul you don’t genuinely believe that tomorrow can and will be better than today, it almost surely will not be.

Before you can advance forward to a joyful, bountiful second half of life, you will need to diagnose why you are less-than-satisfied with today. To win the battle, you must first understand your enemy–in this case the negative emotions and expectations that are holding you down. We can call this your “chain of pain” which may have been implanted in your subconscious mind, perhaps unintentionally, in childhood or years ago as a young adult. Sadly, as unhappy, unfulfilled parents we often in-turn pass negative expectations on to our offspring.

How do you pinpoint and overcome the subconscious negative expectations? I’ll talk more about that in my next blog, but you might begin by acknowledging that negative emotions are at the core of your being and then making a conscious effort to overcome them. To the fullest extent possible, analyze when each negative emotion begin, why it began, who or what was responsible and what you can do to overcome or at least compensate for this negative. Also, I suggest you banish the word “resolve” from your vocabulary; this puts too much pressure on you. Instead speak about your “intent” to change. Set specific yet achievable goals then begin visualizing continually the positive emotions you will experience when your goals are met. Generally, resolutions fail but intentions can succeed.

A positive self-image and a mindset makeover both are critical to becoming the confident, positive man or woman you were intended to be. Set reasonable goals but never “do-or-die” deadlines. That positive “true you” resides within and you have all the time in the world to bring him or her out. If it takes a few weeks, months, even years, it will be well worth the effort once the “true you” arrives. Please don’t expect a magical makeover overnight: the secular equivalent of a Christian “born-again” revival is extremely rare.

Here are a few small tips to help you along in your journey to a new and improved you:

  1. Immerse yourself fully in the “here and now.” Don’t waste five minutes bemoaning the past and never get so wrapped up in worrying about the future that you miss out on the joys of the moment. And pray tell, who enjoys stress, anyway?
  2. Seek out lingering negative thoughts, perspectives and beliefs that are holding you down. Even if they helped protect you in the past, they no longer serve you now.
  3. So long as you respect and don’t intentionally harm others, what someone else thinks or expects of you should be none of your concern. You are the only genuine CEO of you and most likely your own harshest critic.
  4. Stop your whining. No one else is solely to blame for your situation. Passing the blame to others accomplishes absolutely nothing for you.
  5. Stop attempting to change, manipulate or control another adult and never permit anyone else to manipulate or control you.
  6. Pay close attention to what others are saying and think in terms of “both/and” solutions instead of always “I’m right and you’re wrong.”

In my next blog, I’ll talk about the often false and conflicting forces within us and how we can positively take charge of our inner selves. For insightful advice on when resolutions work and when they don’t, tune into the January 14, 2013 broadcast of my Internet radio program, “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age” on I interview two renowned “Possibility Coaches”, Jon Satin and Chris Pattay, and recognized cancer survivor and inspirational author/speaker Carol Edmonston who will introduce you to a radically different strategy to overcome stress, anxiety and your fear of the future.


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