Almost 50% of North Americans make New Year’s Resolutions every year with only 8% achieving their resolutions. These are some sad statistics and if you are like me, you do not want to become a sad statistic.
Why do resolutions fizzle out after the champagne has been popped and the fireworks are over? Here are 10 reasons resolutions fail, and what to do instead so that you become part of the 8% of successes.
1. Resolutions are a form of procrastination. Instead, do not wait until the New Year or the first of the month or next Monday to make change. Waiting is a form of procrastination. If you are a consummate procrastinator, read Timothy A. Pychyl’s book, Solving the Procrastination Puzzle for practical tips on how to eliminate procrastination from your life.
2. Resolutions lead to short-term thinking. Change is not a one-time announcement. Instead, real change is a long-term process that happens every day over time. Think of the New Year as a time to envision the life you really want to live and make long-term plans to achieve that vision.
3. Big changes do not happen all at once every January. Big changes or many changes at once take up a great deal of our energy and effort, which means we land up feeling exhausted rather than energized. Change should be energizing. Instead, change one small thing (PDF) at a time and when you have that one thing mastered, change one more small thing. Small steps lead you to the top of the mountain, not one giant leap.
4. Don’t try to go it alone. Instead, take along a supporter. Enlist encouraging and supportive friends or professionals to cheer you on and keep you accountable. This is especially true if you are trying to lose weight.
5. You are not paying attention to yourself. We are so busy that we have forgotten to listen to our minds, hearts and our bodies. Instead, slow down and become mindful. Mindfulness allows us to become aware of how we feel, think, and react to life as it happens. Becoming mindful allows us to understand what needs to change within ourselves and within our environment.
6. You keep your old thinking and behavior patterns. Instead, change your habits. We all have habits. Habits help us perform tasks with minimal effort and energy expenditure. If your habit is to have a large creamy sweet latte for breakfast with an extra large muffin, you can change that habit - IF you want to change. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is a great book on how to make habits work for you.
7. Unrealistic resolutions set you up to fail. Professor Peter Herman calls this ‘false hope syndrome’ when someone makes unrealistic resolutions they cannot meet. Being overly ambitious may backfire. Instead, set an achievable goal. When you get there, set a new one.
8. You forget to celebrate your successes along the way. You have your eye on the prize and until you get there nothing else counts. You land up feeling frustrated because the end result that you want is so far away. Your frustration builds. Instead, practice celebrating small successes along the way. Small successes build momentum and lead to big successes.
9. You try to do things out of your reach. Instead, focus on what you can do now. Make each step doable. Each step becomes easier as you build confidence in yourself. Success is something you build upon. What seems impossible today will be achievable if you take the steps that lead you there.
10. You believe change is drudgery. You think that improving your life is wrought with drudgery and painful change. Instead, enjoy the process. The changes you are making improve your life and bring joy to you. If not, why do it?