The New Year has arrived and with that: New Years Resolutions!
At this time of the year, we usually take stock of what’s behind us and think about the year ahead. But as many of us know very well, these resolutions last about 30 days before they are broken.
In fact, many of us scrap these resolutions by January 23rd and only one in 10 of us succeed in keeping up with the resolutions for more than 3 months.
Overall, only about 8% of people achieve their resolutions.
The reason why people use significant dates, e.g. the beginning of a new year, is to attach new meanings to the significant date in the hope that the attachment will sustain over time.
In short: New Year = new beginnings.
Reasons Why People Fail To Keep Up Their Resolutions
The major reason why people give in is that they go back to old habits of thinking or responding to their environment and usually it’s caused by stress of reacting to intuitions in their lives.
If people are dealing with stress or stressful things in their environment this can make it difficult for them to maintain their new years resolutions because the amount of effort put into dealing with stress reduces the amount of will power.
This means that working on reducing stress provides more will power to maintain their new years resolutions. Having said this, expect to revert back to old habits from time to time but don’t look at that as a failure.
Treat the failures as temporary set backs rather than a reason to give up altogether.
Another reason why people give up is that they set themselves goals of changing certain ingrained habits, e.g. smoking, or eating certain types of food that may not be good for them.
Habits, particularly bad habits, account for high rates of failure, as habits are hard to break. On average, it takes 21 days to change a habit, and that is – only if during the 21 days the habit is not broken even for a second.
Other reasons why people fail with their resolutions is that they think that if they lose weight or reduce debts or exercise more, their lives will change and when it doesn’t they may get discouraged and then revert back to old behaviours.
Tips To Ensure You Keep To Your New Years Resolutions
In psychological research, we have found that we are more likely to succeed in our resolutions if we change our thinking and actively work to change our behaviours.
It is more likely that you will succeed if you set realistic goals and expectations as well as if we break these goals into smaller steps that are specific, measurable and time-based.
However it is also important not to look at the resolutions as set in stone as it makes them harder to accomplish. Be flexible. Look at these resolutions as things that you would like to achieve, things to look forward to, e.g. ‘I am looking forward to working on losing weight’ rather than ‘my resolution is to lose weight’.
5 Top Goal Setting Tips
1. Public Declaration If you want to make changes and to be effective it is worthwhile telling everybody what you want to do because it gives you a social obligation to others as you don't want to be seen as a failure. You are also more likely to get support and you will work harder towards your goal and therefore avoid failing.
2. The second effective technique is to imagine yourself being successful in attaining your goal on at least a daily basis (visualizing on a daily basis to maintain motivation to keep going).
3. Mind Tricks and Focus: The third effective approach is when you are tempted to focus on the long term achievements of effects of making the right decision or rather than the tempting feelings, e.g. if you want to lose weight and you start focusing on the taste, the smell, the flavour and the tempting sensations relating to food, the harder it is for you to refuse it, but if you focus on the calories, the cholesterol, and the food as weight going on your hips then its easier to refuse. Focus on your weight reducing.
4. Have one main goal (to start with) as your chances of success will be greater when you channel your energy into one thing at a time. So for example if you want to lose weight and stop smoking at the same time, focus on one of your goals first. Focusing on both will be hard, demotivating and will inevitably increase your chances of failure.
5. Break your goal down into a series of smaller steps, e.g. focus on losing 3kgs to start rather than 10kgs. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too big a step all at once. And remember, change your resolutions to: ‘things that you are looking forward to’. Less pressure is the key as well as focusing on smaller more achievable steps.
And finally, if you do slip up, remember to have fun and even laugh at yourself, but don’t let the slip hold you back from working at your goal.
It’s your choice and you know you can do it…a bit at a time! Happy New Year!
Read next: The Top 10 Most Popular New Years Resolutions Which one will you make?