Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

New Year's Resolutions

Let me start by wishing you a Happy New Year. I hope this coming year is filled with promise and success.

Now, let’s get down to business and talk about New Year’s Resolutions. This is the time of year when your social media feeds will be inundated with people hashtagging “new year, new me!” and sharing their goals and aspirations. Then, you get a few individuals (maybe even you) who share some quip about being the same terrible person with bad habits that they’ve always been. Whatever the case may be and no matter what school of thought (new you or same old jerk) you fall into, one fact remains the same:

Most New Year’s Resolutions fail. In fact, only 8% of people seem to be able to attain their goals. First, let’s take a look at why that number is so low and then how to change your path to increase your chances of reaching your goals.

And hey, if you fall into the category of people who wish to be the same jerk they were last year, read on anyway. You might learn how to hone your craft or something.

Why Do We Fail?

It’s really simple actually, we fail because we set ourselves up for failure. Here’s how:

“I Have A Year”

Thinking that we have a year to make a change gives us this endless expanse of time. 365 days to get this goal done. By the time 365 days have passed we have either forgotten our goals or procrastinated so much that it is impossible to catch up, so we carry our goal over to the next year.

We also tend to overwhelm ourselves while setting New Year’s Resolutions. Thinking of losing 20lbs in a year is a large amount of weight and time to think about. We end up scaring ourselves out of taking action.

No Plan to Back Up Our Goals

We also fail by setting a goal with no action behind it. When Apple, Google, and this cat here (who arguably does not belong in the same category as those businesses) sit down and do their strategic planning for the year to come, do you think they drink their coffee, say “let’s make a billion dollars!” and call it a day? No. They set the goals, then figure out how to get to that point, with checks and balances along the way.

Too Much at the Start

Finally, we jump the gun and throw ourselves entirely into our goal rather than making small, sustainable changes. I don’t know about you, but if I went from holiday feasts directly to starvation mode, the hanger alone would be enough to put me in jail before mid-January.

We Forget to Reflect On the Previous Year

Thinking that a New Year changes everything is silly. We often look at January first as a reset button and forget to think about the things we did in the past year to determine what did and did not work for us.

What Can We Do Instead?

To counteract these common problems, you need to flip them on their head. For example:

Break Up the Year

Don’t think about a whole, vast expanse of a year ahead of you. Think of what you’ll do the first week of January, then the second, then the third. What do you hope to accomplish in that first month?

I never really understood the importance of this step until I read The 12 Week Year. It reshapes your thinking so that you treat each week as a month and each quarter as a whole year. It helps you break down your goals into action steps that you must take daily and weekly to achieve your goals. I have used this method successfully for both my business (though I’m still not Apple or Google) and my fitness (though I’m still not the fitness equivalent of whoever those companies would be in human form).

To get The 12 Week Year on Amazon, click here.

Make an Action Plan

After determining what you want your goal to be, begin to outline the steps you need to take to get there. Losing 20lbs over the course of a year means losing a little over a pound each month. To do that, you may need to alter your eating and exercise habits. To do that, you may need to go to the gym three times a week and eat more protein and vegetables.

Focus on the actions, and the outcomes will happen naturally.

Take Baby Steps

So you want to eliminate soda from your diet. That’s great! However, if you quit all at once, you may not have the strength to say no when a friend offers you a Pepsi in a couple week’s time. Maybe replace one can of soda each day with lemon water. After a successful week, replace another portion, and so on.

Remember that to effectively kick a habit you need to have something to replace it. Stopping night snacking can be a huge challenge, but snacking on carrot sticks and rice cakes rather than chips is a good start. Give yourself a chance to adapt to the change.

Consider the Previous Year

The problem with the “new year, new me” mentality is that it belittles your accomplishments of the previous year. While some of us have a bad year (2017 was no picnic for most people) that doesn’t mean that nothing good happened. Reflect on these moments to inspire hope and positivity for the next year. Think of what you did well so you can continue to do those things well. Consider the challenges you faced, and how you can eliminate them in the future. Shape your goals around these things.

What’s Your New Year’s Resolution?

So now that you’ve considered these things, do you need to change your resolution? Be sure to comment and let us know what it was and how it has changed after trying these activities. It might even help you to drop the pretentious title of “Resolution” and just set some plain old goals.

Still maintaining your stance on being the same jerk this year as you were last year? That’s cool tool; you do you, pal.

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