There are 5 reasons your New Year’s resolutions don’t work, and…
Oh yeah, here’s the thing about New Year’s resolutions: They don’t work.
And really, it should come as no surprise.
Because… You’ve been there. Haven’t you?
Walked around in those last few days of the year and kinda made a mental status of your life?
Thought about some things that might be nice to do — or that you even felt that you should do?
Stood there on a new Jan. 2nd (after your latest hangover had faded, of course), and found yourself with this new promise to yourself that you kinda had to deal with?
… Only to find that, after a certain period of time, this new thing that you had going on didn’t really work out. For whatever reason.
Yeah, I’ve been there, too. No judgment on my part.
In fact, as it’s been repeated several times, one 2014 study found that while 45% of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% of those resolutions get successfully carried out.
I’ve seen the same statistic represented through other studies, with minor variations. Some say 50% make resolutions; some say 10% of them are successful. But you get the gist of it.
The good news is that those resolutions fail for the same reasons that any other unsuccessful goal fails. I’ve found the 5 reasons your New Year’s resolutions don’t work, and I’ll walk you through them, here:
1. It’s not specific enough
How many times have you heard someone say that they wanna “live healthier” or “lose some weight” — or even said it yourself? Well excuse me, but what the tits does that even mean anyway?
Yes, I know what weight loss literally means. But try fasting or dehydrating yourself for a day and measure your weight before and after (actually, maybe don’t). Boom: You’ve lost some weight; goal accomplished.
No. Exactly WHAT concrete actions are you going to take WHEN in order to lose WHAT amount of excess body fat (not muscle!) by WHICH date? Oh yeah, about that…
2. It doesn’t have a clear deadline
“But it’s a New Year’s resolution so I’ll have it done sometime this year LOL!”
Right. And if we’re at Jan. 1st, this might mean later today. Or, it might mean in just short of 52 weeks. Please tell me you see the difference, because I’m not elaborating on this one.
3. You’re over-burdening yourself
If you set yourself a big New Year’s resolution, like running a marathon, without properly thinking it through, right there’s your problem. Huge goals necessarily require huge amounts of action.
And let’s face it, most of us only have so much spare time in the course of a day after work, shopping, domestic chores, and perhaps dealing with our progeny.
But anybody could find 5 or 10 minutes in a day. That is, if it’s important enough. Which brings me to…
4. It’s not really important to you
This one, I think, is hugely overlooked. See, whatever we do, harmful or beneficial, we do it because there are certain benefits to it.
For example, think of this Classic New Year’s resolution: Quitting smoking. Every single human being knows about the serious harms and risks of smoking. Yet, there are certain benefits to it.
The ritual. The perceived coolness. Certain possibilities of making social connections. The personal sanctuary of a smoking break. The immense instant gratification of a nicotine rush.
Whatever we want, we better make damn sure the benefits of getting it by far outweigh those of not getting it. And this has a lot to do with changing our mental game around it.
5. You have no accountability
Now, this one’s a bit tricky. See, in general, a certain amount of accountability is motivating for by far most of us. But it only takes so much accountability before it starts to feel like unwanted, outside pressure. Which is when our motivation reaches its breaking point.
For some, declaring their resolutions to their friends, families, colleagues etc. might help instil a sense of motivational accountability.
Others (like me) prefer the less-talking-more-action approach. — And then, of course, hold themselves accountable to the relevant people, like their coach, mentor, personal trainer, mastermind group… Whoever.
Find out what works for you.
Those are the 5 reasons your New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Now it’s up to you to make sure they do.
I recommend the following approach:
Don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Set goals that are realistic, important, specific and time-bound, and keep taking consistent action on them.
Happy New Year.