Did you know that by this point – just 3 weeks into January – the majority of people who made New Year’s Resolutions have already given up on them? In fact, experts estimate that a good number of people break resolutions as early as January 10th. And over time, about 80% of those who made a resolution will eventually break it.
Why? Let’s look at 5 common reasons why many people's New Year's Resolutions fail…
1) Choosing a goal that’s too broad. Saying something like “I want to lose weight” or “I want to save money” sounds great in theory, but how are you going to get there? How will you measure success? If you don’t outline specific steps and strategies for achieving your goal, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Read up on this blog post on setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, realistic, attainable, and timely) for more tips about how to structure your resolutions (which can be set all year - not just January 1st!).
2) Setting unrealistic expectations. For weight loss, I think of this as the “Biggest Loser” effect – though it’s certainly applicable to other common resolutions as well. We see people on the show losing 5-15 pounds in a week, and then expect that we can do the same – ignoring the fact that on the show, their entire day is geared towards weight loss. They have hours and hours to exercise, have a dietitian helping develop meals, and have doctors/trainers/resources at their fingertips. You can’t extrapolate those results to an everyday life that involves work, kids, and other obligations. A healthy rate of weight loss is about ½ to 2 pounds per week.
3) Writing down 28 goals and expecting to excel at all of them. Perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit here, but sometimes people choose so many goals that it’s hard to focus their time on all of them. This leads to feeling overwhelmed and eventually giving up. I once read an article that talked about willpower being like a muscle – it grows stronger as you use it, but will breakdown if you overload it too much. A few well selected, specific, achievable goals are much more beneficial than the overwhelming laundry list of things you want to accomplish.
4) All or nothing thinking & the “snowball” effect. Many of you know what I’m talking about. You might have one slip up and say “well, the whole day is ruined.” In the example of diet, maybe you ate the cake at the party even though you weren’t even hungry. You beat yourself up, say the day is ruined, and end up eating more. You wake up the next morning feeling guilty and decide you may as well wait until Monday to start eating healthier….and so on. Sound familiar? This type of thinking leads to failed resolutions as you continue to push off the healthier habits even longer. When slip ups happen (and they are bound to happen!) do not tell yourself you’ve done “bad” or that you’ve ruined your efforts – instead, let that one event go (including any guilt about it) and immediately go back to your healthier habits.
5) Not getting the support you need. Quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising more, saving money – these are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions because they are issues that many people struggle with. If you want to improve your progress in any of these areas, it’s important to analyze what resources and support you need! Maybe signing up for personal training sessions twice a week would be valuable because you know that person will hold you accountable. Perhaps it’s time to ditch the diets and invest in nutrition counseling for true meaningful change. Maybe you need to meet with a financial planner to narrow down methods for saving that will work best in your circumstances, or use a money-tracking program online to analyze your spending traps. Don’t look at these as a waste of time or money – you are investing in resources, but ultimately you are investing in your own wellbeing.
If you’ve suffered one of these setbacks, there is no need to push off goal setting until next year! Today, develop a small, achievable strategy that you can use to help you make progress. Do you want to exercise more? Schedule two workouts in your planner this week and leave your gym clothes out the night before. Want to eat better? Maybe you decide to start keeping a food log this week to see where your shortcomings may be. Analyze if your strategies are feasible to implement yourself, or if you might need a professional or a specific resource to help you. No need to put it off - today is a perfect day to start changing!
Share with us: Did you make resolutions this year? Have you stuck with them so far?