It’s a new year, and for a lot of us that means lofty resolutions to live healthier lives. Maybe you binged a little too much on eggnog and Christmas cookies over the past month, but now you’re going to be good! You’re going to work out every day and resist the temptation to stay inside eating pizza until the weather gets better. Right?
The other day, my girlfriend, Beth, made a batch of rich Peanut Butter Temptation cookies. These delectable morsels of chewy peanut butter cookies with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the middle are truly irresistible, tying with chocolate chip cookies as the “Best Cookie on Earth” in my mind. As she brought them out of the oven, my indulgent side taunted me: I could eat that entire batch right now, I thought. Then, just in time, my disciplined side interjected and made me pause. Perhaps it was the name of the cookie, Temptation. In my last post I talked about how powerful the lure of “the dark side” can be, both in Star Wars and in life. Are these cookies the dark side? I wondered. Quick, easy, and oh so seductive.
Imagine the word temptation added to other things in life that threaten to seduce us over to the dark side of bad decision-making. Would it make you pause as it did for me? Consider Pizza Temptation, Alcohol Temptation, Driving-Too-Fast Temptation. In the case of the cookies, I could have allowed myself to revel in a few minutes of peanut butter and chocolate bliss and easily finished the entire plate. But that word temptation was a red flag, an immediate reminder of my vulnerabilities to the dark side.
The reason temptation seduces us is simple: moderation is hard; putting the brakes on when something feels (or tastes) good is a challenge. Temptations, big or small, take a great deal of self-discipline, determination, and sometimes outside help to overcome.
This is why New Year’s resolutions often fail. People set overly ambitious goals for themselves to break a habit or start a new routine. The level of difficulty makes it very tempting to revert back to old ways. So this year, instead of setting too-high expectations for yourself, think about New Year’s resolutions in a different way by asking this simple question:
What went well for me in 2015?
Did you make a start toward achieving your goal of getting fit? Did you begin eating healthier or walking to work? If so, take a moment to reflect upon this achievement and how you can carry it over into the new year. Once you have recognized your progress, however minor, the goal of getting fit doesn’t seem so daunting, making you less likely to give in to temptation. You have already conquered one step—now on to the next one.
Consider this: set achievable goals and take them step-by-step to set yourself up for success in the new year.