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CwL Ep 131 Why New Year’s Resolutions don’t work!

LC - Lisa Corduff Rebrand 2023-19

It’s a bit strange that the most common ‘model for change’ that we know of – the good ol’ New Year’s Resolution – fails time after time after time and yet, we keep doing it!

Kind of like diets – people keep doing them and they don’t actually work for the long term. 

While intention setting, getting clear on what we want, and aligning our actions to that is absolutely awesome, it’s also only a very small part of what it takes to create meaningful change. 

In this episode, Lisa breaks down exactly why New Year’s Resolutions are problematic. If you have felt like a failure because by February you are back in your same habits or you’re procrastinating on making positive changes – this episode is for you!

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Prefer to read? Access the transcript here

Hey, it’s Lisa Corduff. Welcome to the podcast where you can expect inspiring, raw, energising, and transformative conversations with people on the path of personal evolution. I’m here to really live my life and if you are too, these conversations are just for you. I’m really glad you are here. Enjoy.

Hey everyone. Welcome back to 2023 on the podcast. We are kicking off a brand new here and I’m excited because quite genuinely 2023 feels really different and that is by design and also a product of just a wacky old year. Last year, I thought that coming into February and after a little share on my stories the other day that asking everyone how they felt and sharing that for me, really a lot of the year really feels like it’s starting in February or whenever it is that the kids go back to school. The January is just, January really is holidays. January is doing fun things, squeezing in some work where I can, but really trying to be present with the kids until they end up just kind of ooh, driving me a little bit nuts. And then I’m wondering if anyone else wants to take them for a little while.

For us. In our family, we made the transition to high school for my eldest this year, so that has been actually massive and I probably was completely naive in terms of how big that was going to be and still navigating that. But for me personally, it feels like I get back to business, I get back into my own zone when they’re at school. It’s like suddenly everything feels possible and I can hear myself think again. It’s beautiful. And when we were talking about this on stories, a lot of other women felt the same and it started to make me think about that new year vibe, right? I mean it’s filled with possibility and potential. We shift over into a brand new year and suddenly everything feels possible. It’s the same feeling for me when they go back to school. So I feel like my year really starts at that moment, but I have actually had a lot of time to reflect and to think about and get around 2023, which is a far cry removed from what it was back in 2022.

I mean the start of that year, I was hopeful, but it was, I mean that next six months was really, really tricky for me as I kept on trying to find the spark that had just whoop, I just couldn’t find it, couldn’t light it up for very long. Now it doesn’t feel forced or fake or it’s going to go away. I feel full of energy, full of optimism. I have loads of creative ideas. We have plans for loads of things to change with this work and this business, and I did not have that last year. It was really, I all over the place anyway, it’s okay. It’s all okay and those moments are important, but here we are in a new year and I wonder if you are feeling a parent of school-aged kids if you are also feeling like your year is just starting. I thought it might be interesting to reflect on what someone who is obsessed with behaviour change and what it actually takes and has been doing work in this area for over a decade, but particularly with women around their lifestyle habits for the last densely eight years, but up to a decade with that as well.

There’s a few things that I know that we do wrong at the start of a new year, and so this is going to be a short series of podcast episodes about some of the most common New Year’s mistakes that we make. These are classics and some of them might feel more relevant to you than others, but I encourage you to listen to them all because there might be some reminders of things that you are doing in your personal life or your work life and it might just remind you why you don’t get very far when you take that approach. And I just want to share first up is that the actual model for change that we use, and that is most common and happens most especially at New Year’s, is that we make these resolutions that’s kind of like the most common known popular model for change.

We get to a point, we draw a line in the sand and we make a resolution and it feels really good. It’s almost seductive in its appeal. It’s like, yeah, I’m just going to, I am putting that out there. That is what I want. I mean, you could basically marinate in the deliciousness of resolutions. It is, I mean I don’t use the word seductive lightly. It draws us in. We want it. It feels good and we feel good in that zone too. We sort of feel really excited about ourselves, about our potential, about everything that’s possible because there’s this part of us that knows we’re capable of change that we can get, we move into a different state of being. We can take on new habits. I mean, life throws us at sometimes and we adapt and we do. And if we’re a parent, our kids change and suddenly we are in new routines and we change and we adapt.

Even for me at the moment, we used to leave for school at eight 30, sometimes eight 40 <laugh>, and right now my son has to be out the door for the bus at 7 45 and it’s changed up my mornings and I’m rolling with it. It’s happening. But can you imagine if I decided on my own that I was going to be up and Adam and have everything, all the breakfasts done, all the lunches ready, everything ready to go, bags packed by 7 45 just for shits and giggles, <laugh> last year, I probably would’ve been like, no, why? I don’t need to. So sometimes we’re forced into these changes to our patterns and other times we actually do need to create a little bit of discipline and commitment around doing something new and that can be so unsexy and unsatisfying, but there’s reasons why it can work. It’s just that most people don’t know them.

And so we take on this accepted model for change, which is the New Year’s resolution and what it actually delivers most of the time because there’s very little evidence. I have looked for it <laugh>, that that’s what our brain responds to and can work from and we get different outcomes. It’s actually, it’s not a successful model in any way, and yet we continue to do it. What the most likely outcome is that you forget your resolution and coupled with that is you remember your resolution, but because you have no understanding of what it will genuinely take your brain to follow through with this because you are relying on willpower, which is a finite resource. You don’t actually have endless willpower. We know this because we know the feeling of 3:00 PM or 8:00 PM or whatever it is for you. It trying to just use willpower to change your behaviour is an absolutely broken way of doing things. It doesn’t work. We know this because we see so many examples of it, and so yet we still try and do a resolution and we think it works and then when it doesn’t, the likely outcome is you feel like you failed. You feel like a hopeless case. You feel like nothing will ever change. You feel like those aspirations that you created for yourself that you sunk into at the new year are beyond your reach.

And that really upsets me. It upsets me that that’s how most people end up talking to themselves when they realise that they didn’t follow through on that new movement routine or they didn’t follow through on using their planner or whatever it is. Or they started doing dinner plans and batch cooking and then by February it was like, I don’t even, hang on. What’s for dinner? Let’s just go through, drive through and we feel bad, but it’s actually not a you thing, it’s not personal. That model for change is flawed. Oh my gosh, I’m looking out my window and there’s actually the cutest puppy in the world being walked across and yep, that’s how easily distracted I am. But that is a very cute puppy. Anyway, back to business. This is why I’m doing this series of emails because I don’t want you to feel like shit about yourself. You don’t have to. It can be really powerful to sit in that new year’s space and set a resolution. It can also be completely futile. Before I share with you in the next few episodes, the most common that I see, the classic mistakes I wanted to share with you just a little bit of a reflection about where we can also go wrong at that new year point.

And it comes off the back of, I was reading this book over summer, I don’t know if you’ve read it, 4,000 weeks it’s called, and it’s by Oliver Berkman. It’s a really great read and I loved it because it was such a refreshing reminder that we don’t have forever and we get caught up in this one life with things that are quite inconsequential and chew up all our time and attention and energy, and it doesn’t actually have to be that way. If we lived from the place of knowing we have about 4,000 weeks to live, how would that change how you show up in your everyday life? Are you at the beginning of a new year just coming to this kind of a little bit, that’s 2023, knowing that there’ll be a 2024 and a 2025, but what if there wasn’t? And I’m not being morbid. I actually think it’s a hugely motivating to recognise that we don’t have forever and a year is quite a long time. So when setting resolutions, I actually think that we set the bar too low with stuff that, I mean, yeah, lose a few kilos or whatever it is. I don’t know, whatever you sort of set for yourself

And we’re unrealistic about how to even get those things and we don’t set the bar high enough. So we set these really low bar and give ourselves these goals that we actually have no idea how to embed in our lives because none of us were ever really, really taught. Then we end up sort of feeling like a failure and it’s all big horrible loop. But what if we worked from the place of, we don’t even know if there’s going to be a next year. <affirmative>, what would you set as your New Year’s resolution or your intentions for this year? What would you be saying yes to? What really matters? What really matters to you? Those small little, I see people setting goals, but how about asking yourself better questions? Who do I choose to show up and be this year? How am I going to shine my light this year? What’s the biggest, boldest, badass move I could make with my life this year? <laugh>? Like why aren’t we asking ourselves those questions? How you move your body and if you’ve made a resolution around something like that really matters. How you’re fueling your body with food and drink really, really matters.

All that stuff is important. But come on, what are, are you really resolving for this year? Are you calling yourself into your highest sort of state of being and far out? If I couldn’t have shared this stuff last year because I wasn’t there, I was like, how do I do this? I’ve forgotten how to put lunch boxes together. Hang on. I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I don’t know what feels good. I feel like a little bit lost and why am I crying all the time? And I’m pretty sure that walking in the sunshine used to make me feel good, but that’s not happening right now. And so please, if you are not in that state, that’s okay. But even being there, I could have asked myself better questions

And that’s just what I want to want to set that tone for this little series. I want us all to have a really great year and I’m going to share in the next few episodes some of these classic mistakes that we make. But to kick off, I really wanted you to know it’s not you about the whole resolutions being forgotten by January 17 or <laugh>, whatever. It’s not you. There’s better ways to create change. I have been working for the last decade on figuring out what it actually takes for women who have a lot on their plate to actually shift into new habits, new thoughts, new behaviours that take them where they want to go instead of keeping them stuck and spinning their wheels. So buckle up. There’s some home truths coming your way. I really hope you enjoy this series and as always get in touch.

You can find me on Instagram and we have a really great series coming up. I’m also on Facebook and also my website, Sorry, I forgot I got started thinking about something else to share with you. We, I’m going to be doing this thing and you’ll hear about it in the next episode because I think one of the classic mistakes that we make is we just add more to our list without making space for it. And I’m actually going to be walking you through three days. We are going to do this declutter sprint. I could not be feeling the way I’m feeling and producing what I’m producing at this stage of the year if I hadn’t done these exact things <laugh> in January. So I know that there’s women already feeling the squeeze and it’s like the year has just taken off like a rocket. I know I’m not alone in that feeling. This stuff really simple, effective, use them time and time again. It is a series that I am delivering only to email subscribers, so you’ve got to get yourself on the list. There will be a link in the bio for you to jump in and join me. Okay, see you in the next episode.

Hey, thanks for listening to the podcast. I have a quick favour to ask you. Firstly, if you got value from this podcast and someone else who might be interested in listening, it helps so much when you go ahead and share that you have enjoyed the podcast. You can do that on your social platforms or even when you’re just chatting to your friends. I so appreciate that. And the other thing, it might take like 30 seconds of your time, but we love reading your reviews of the podcast. You can go ahead and do that on your podcast platform of choice. It really, really makes my day that this stuff is valuable to you. Thanks again for listening. I.

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