Time really does fly by. It seems like yesterday that we all chanted the countdown to the beginning of 2018 on New Year’s Eve, only to realize that it’s already June! While the past few months may have been a time of immense growth and achievements for many, there are some of us who can’t help but feel gloomy and a tad bit dejected when we look at the calendar; there was so much that we wanted to have achieved by this point of the year, but sadly, that hasn’t been the case. The New Year’s resolutions that we so enthusiastically jotted down in our daily planner haven’t materialized to the extent we wanted. In fact, according to New Year Resolution Statistics 2017, the percentage of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolution are 41% while those who feel that they were successful in achieving their resolution is only 9.2%
So why do new year’s resolutions fail?
Not writing them down: Many people plan and come up with exactly what they want to achieve in the New Year. They have it all thought out clearly and are bursting to start on making their resolutions a reality. However, they don’t write down their resolutions, which makes it likely for them to forget all about them within a few weeks! So while you’re brainstorming and thinking of what you want to accomplish, take out a pen and paper, write it down, and keep that paper in clear sight so that each time you look at it, you are reminded of what you’re hoping to achieve!
Too many goals: At the start of a new year you are enthusiastic and excited. You have plans and goals that you want to achieve. However, in your excitement, you make so many plans that when the actual time comes, you start feeling overwhelmed. For example, if you decided that this was the year that you were going to get fit and healthy, you decided that you will go to the gym five times a week, walk to work every day, take a weekly zumba class AND eliminate processed food from your diet. PHEW! That’s a whole lot of things, and chances are you won’t be able to stick to all. So pick one thing and start from there.
Vague resolutions: Often times people make goals that are vague and unclear, making it hard for them to materialize. For example, being a mostly reserved and quiet person, you may have made a resolution to ‘meet more people’. While that’s a good start, it is quite vague, because the question is, ‘How are you going to meet more people?’ Are you going to join the local book reading club, or go to the local events more often? You need to have resolutions that are clear so that they are easy to follow through.
Not tracking progress: Many people start off great, and make actual progress to achieve success regarding their goals. However, not tracking progress often makes them feel that they’re not achieving much, which de-motivates them, causing them to give up all together. For example, your resolution might have been ‘Lose weight’, which is a vague resolution to begin with, only for you to feel like you’re not achieving success because you weren’t tracking your progress.
How to make resolutions that stick?
Write it down and keeping checking in: Many people make New Year’s resolutions only to stop making an effort within a few days or weeks. Often times the reason is that instead of sitting down, planning and writing down achievable goals, they just ‘think’ they’ll do so and so. With nothing to refer back to, or noting down progress, it’s unlikely that much will be achieved.
Be specific: one way to making sure that you follow through with your resolution is to be specific about what you want to achieve, write it down and check it off. For example, instead of making a goal to be ‘more healthy’, make a goal like, ‘dance everyday for at least 20 mins’ or ‘hit the gym three times a week’. Tangible, specific goals instead of vague ones are easier to achieve and keep a track of.
Don’t use words like ‘never’: a lot of people write off many habits they believe are unhealthy when writing down their new year’s resolution, claiming to never indulge in them again. This method might prove beneficial to individuals who have a strong control over themselves, many of us don’t. Unable to stick to such resolutions de-motivates individuals. Instead, identify the habit you want to quit, and make a promise to try to do better. If you fall off the wagon at any point, try to get back on as soon as possible!
Break it down: Don’t make unrealistic and unreasonable goals that you know you will not be able to achieve and instead start small, working your way to bigger goals. For example, if you’re hoping to lose 20 pounds, don’t just stop there. Break it down into smaller goals that are more achievable, helping you get to your bigger goal. Smaller goals could be like ‘eat home-cooked meals at least 4 times a week’ or ‘walk to work/school’.
Use reminders: It’s quite easy to forget and hence, reminder tools are a great help! Set alarms or sign up on apps that remind you that it’s time to do a certain task that will help you achieve your goals.
Celebrate achievements: If you’ve hit a target, then celebrate! Rewarding yourself will motivate you further to stick to your goals. For example, if you stuck to your goal of eating healthy and home cooked meals 4 times a week, then treat yourself to that burger on a night out! Life is meant to be spent in a balanced way. Don’t burn out yourself.
The aforementioned are a few reasons as to why most New Year’s resolutions fail, and what can be done to ensure that you are able to follow through with the ones you make. Also, don’t wait for the next year to write down some resolutions of your own. Use the remaining six months to get a kick start on what you’re hoping to achieve. Good luck!