2013 is only hours old. There are millions of people that have made New Year’s resolutions, vowed to change their lives – for the better – by losing weight, stopping smoking, becoming more organized or exercising more. They have set goals and are sure this will be the year they follow through. Many of these people have already given in to the “failed resolutions.” Maybe they had “one last cigarette” this morning or decided that the diet can wait until tomorrow.
Dr. John Norcross, a professor and clinical psychologist at the University of Scranton looked at New Year’s resolutions and found that almost one-half of all adults make a resolution but only a about one-half of those people actually achieve their resolution. Why? Why is it so hard to make positive changes in our life?
Reflecting on Failure
One of the biggest reasons (I think) that resolutions fail is because, when we create a resolution, we focus on our failures. We look at our mistakes and what we have done wrong as “terrible things” that must be changed. We look at all that we haven’t accomplished. We frame our resolutions around all we don’t like about our life. Our resolutions, therefore, are a constant reminder of what we perceive as our weakness or shortcomings.
Focus on the Small Successes
A year is a long time. In the past year, you have had 365 days and in those days, there must have been successes, must have been things you did right. There were probably times you felt proud of yourself, felt you “did a good job” or were simply happy with the effort you put forth. But as you make your resolution, you may be instead focusing on the times you didn’t accomplish your goals. This year, instead, focus on what you did right and build from there.
For many adults with ADHD, low self-esteem is a major stumbling block. Years of trying and failing, not living up to other’s expectations and having jobs and relationships start with a bang and end with a fizzle have wreaked havoc on your ability to see any success in your life. But each day there are probably numerous ways you have succeeded, no matter how small. For example, maybe you got to work on time, got the kids up and out the door with all their belongings and homework, you may have made a great dinner, knew where your keys and your cell phone were without a major search. You may have completed a project at work, remembered to get gas in the car, cleaned the house or called a friend you haven’t talked to in a year. Life is full of small successes that seem inconsequential and are forgotten or ignored. But it is these types of successes that build our self-esteem and make us feel better at the end of the day.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t have days, times or things that don’t work. You will still make mistakes. But using those mistakes as positives, rather than negatives, can help you move forward. Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”