Did you know that only about 12 percent of New Year's resolutions are kept after the one year mark? A resolution to lose weight is by far one of the most common. Early in January, the YMCA and other gyms will be brimming with well-intentioned "resolutionists" working hard on keeping their promise. But by mid-March, the vast number of them will have given up and returned to their previous habits.
Well-ingrained habits are hard to change. We favor the good intentions of restructuring the way we think, but these will give way to comfort and satisfaction. But why is it that we fail to keep our resolutions? Is it lack of motivation? Maybe it is fear of change or lack of determination?
I believe that two main factors are working against each other here. The first is the fear of change. We get comfortable with our daily choices; we may not like the choices, but we feel safe with them. Many times we don't make a substantial change because we feel that we are in a zone that is safe. Why venture out and try your luck?
The other factor is not understanding the importance of determination. Our past experiences with success or failure will reflect on our ability to be determined. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, determination is "a firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end." Motivation is basically a "boost or incentive" to do something. So by definition, determination is really the key to achieving success with something; motivation is just the incitement.
Determination, being the driving force behind achieving a task, has to be followed by effort, which is the work necessary to achieve the desired end. This is where a lot of people will stagger. You see, two issues are at play here. The first is that we may correctly or incorrectly see the effort necessary to achieve our goal as gargantuan. We can create and compound our own worst fears. Almost always, this is a false pretension.
Oftentimes we see the effort as insurmountable because of our experience with our past failures and how we handled them. If we failed at our attempts often in the past, we tend to expect much the same outcome that we did before. But what you need to understand is that although the journey may be the same, the path is always changing! Armed with this knowledge is one of the ways that you can change your outcome and avoid predicting failure.
Determination is what allows you to choose the right path and to switch directions, rather than quitting, if it isn't the right path. No one can teach you "determination," but we can plant the seed, water it and watch it grow into a Grand Sequoia.
Success is then a cycle that originates with inspiration and motivation quickly follows. Motivation then is followed by determination, which leads to effort and this in turn leads to accomplishment. If you attain accomplishment, then you reach further inspiration and the cycle continues itself.
You must keep this cycle alive by driving determination, which is the steam engine that keeps it going. Do this by finding the right people and events that keep you motivated and by taking the effort in stages, not trying to set your goals so high that the effort needed to achieve it is unrealistic. Take shorter, simpler steps that lead to accomplishment, then further inspiration, and then more motivation. Make the cycle of success work for you.
And this is what you have to do to keep that New Year's resolution alive, regardless of what your resolution is. Plant your determination and "watch it grow." Understand the cycle of success and how it works so that you keep looking ahead and adjusting your path.
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