The Palimpsest of Sawbones Surio

Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will

New Year Resolutions: Why most fail?

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We’re into the fourth week of  January (just) and  already Yahoo! India is carrying articles titled “Is your gym membership a waste of money?“. Where Yahoo! goes, can MSN or others be far behind? But the premise of the article provides a lot of food for thought!

The start of the new year sees spikes in gym memberships because many people are quick to start implementing their resolution to get fit. However, by the middle of January, that initial momentum has gone and many of us often revert to our old ways and the frequency of our gym visits drop. So, in this context its worth asking if a gym membership is worth it or not.

Most of you may have heard the even more scary expression: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” :-|! Indeed! In our case, the lapse usually results in

  • Waste of money (memberships certainly don’t come cheap).
  • Carrying guilt due to the failed commitment. 
  • An insecure self-image due to the triple whammy of
    • not honouring the commitment to the act of “keeping fit”
    • not honouring one’s promise to oneself, and, 
    • Wasting the money by failing in the above

Road to hell, indeed, don’t you all think? But the 1 lakh rupee question is, why does this happen so often (Don’t worry. I’ve been there myself too)? The answer is very simple. Simple enough that people dismiss it as “too simplistic” even. People fail to “set goals”. To me, there’s a lot of difference between a resolution (usually synonymous with a “(usually good) intention”) and the setting of a goal (writing it down). This is not new at all. Stephen Covey has emphasised on it, so has David Bach and so many other self-help and PF gurus of the day. By now, many might be going, “yet another new fad of the day”… Stop! Here’s a whammy: Those of you that enjoy the “Dilbert” strips will be pleased to know that its creator Scott Adams is also a big endorser of Goals and Affirmations(*)! So, before you dismiss it, I want to remind you that this concept is as old as the hills. In fact I too was pleasantly surprised to make that discovery  very recently.

(*) Scott’s a vegetarian too, but that’s not relevant to THIS discussion 😛

Ryan Martin, fellow blogger over at recently blogged about S.W.Y.G.D.S. (Start Writing Your Goals Down Stupid). The idea was nicely expressed by Ryan himself. I quote:

I “retired” from the rat race at 32. I attained this by setting goals: aggressive saving goals, real estate goals, investing goals, knowledge goals (from books). I wrote down my goals almost daily, most of the time as a number e.g. “Save $30,000 this year.” or “Save $300 this coming payday.” I didn’t know how I’d achieve the goal, BUT I’d set the goal (this was key). I wrote it down. I planted the seed of thought… the seed of an idea. Typically, taking action followed my goals.

I can’t beat that one even if I tried :-)! More power to you, Ryan! And that shows the power of a “written, enumerable, personal goal(*)”!

(*) The fact that modern corporates have obliterated it to suit their own “shifting goalposts” is probably best left for discussion for another day 😦

 The real kicker for me in that post was “Earl Nightingale” also known as “Dean of Personal Development“! Quite a mouthful, Eh? I would say he qualifies as the grand-daddy of the goal setting movement. Just listen to his wonderful talk on “The strangest Secret”. I simply love his voice. Quite a baritone!

I am going to sign off with Ryan’s note, as he does a wonderful timeless and brotherly appeal to all!

If you find yourself floating through life and not designing it, again, I implore you to listen to The Strangest Secret, it may save your life. Next, take that extra step and download a copy, and listen to it daily!

I would be hard pressed to beat that one; and to be honest, I don’t wish to. And on behalf of everyone who stands to benefit from that gem —

A BIG Thank you, Ryan!

Written by Surio

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2 Responses

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  1. Nice post. It’d be good to see more – response to FS’s Dark Side of Early Retirement puts mine to shame in some areas. Let’s be having more!


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