Why New Year’s Resolutions fail?

Have you got a New Year’s resolution this year? This article argues that you might not even bother to set one this year. The research indicates that around 90% of New Year’s resolutions fail. Just try to remember one resolution which you did manage to keep. I bet there are just handful of those if any!

About half of the population makes a New Year’s resolution and here are just some of the most common ones:

  • Lose weight
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise more
  • Learn something new
  • Drink less
  • Eat more healthy
  • Save money
  • Travel more
  • Get a new job
  • Spend more time with family
  • Improve relationships
  • Run a half or full marathon

You might find your local gym busy with activity on the first few days / weeks of January but by February people start to cut down on the activity. As time goes by people tend to stay even further behind. Why is this? Are we as humans lazy; not driven? The fact that we set resolutions in the first place actually indicates the opposite. There are those who want to challenge themselves or reinvent themselves in some way and there are others who like to compete with others and many are driven towards self-improvement. The motivations can vary but whatever the motivations are, the majority of those who set the resolutions will fail and that is the fact.

There are a number of reasons for such failure. One of these could be that many of these resolutions are unrealistic and not specific enough but the main problem is that one year is too long of a timespan. One year is a awfully long time to keep the energy and motivation going even for the most motivated of us. It is much better to set shorter term goals – 3 months for example rather than one year.

Setting short-term smarter goals

You are likely to have heard of S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based) goals and for a very good reason as they work better than those unrealistic one year resolutions that many people tend to set for themselves. Famous Psychologists Edwin Locke & Gary Latham found that such goal setting increases performance and productivity by up to one quarter. Now this sounds like a worthwhile doing, doesn’t it?

Here are some hacks into making your goals achievable and this is how many successful entrepreneurs achieve their goals:

  1. Close your eyes and visualise your end goal – imagine you have already achieved your goal – how does that make you feel? You might want to go even further a put a vision board together to bring everything to life with images you like.
  2. Write down your high-level goal; the result you want to achieve (e.g. lose X lbs; $ revenue in the first quarter)
  3. Break down the goal into more realistic short-term goals if you need (ideally no longer than 3 months)
  4. Now ask yourself how you will get there?
  5. Develop an action plan – a set of daily actions that will help you achieve your goal. Brainstorm.
  6. Execute and measure your progress towards your short-term goals
  7. Set daily actions / tasks in your diary and keep track of the results and achievements
  8. Monitor your progress. Take time to note your daily achievements and feel good about them. You can even go further and set a rewards system to motivate yourself
  9. Combat any procrastination. If you do find yourself to procrastinate – ask yourself why you might be doing so and how you will deal with this. Don’t be too hard on yourself and stop worrying. Start small – e.g. writers often find if they set a small goal of writing a paragraph for example they usually find themselves writing pages. Sometimes the trick is not to make the actions too daunting.
  10. Be persistent, you know you can do it. Keep visualising the end goal.