New Year’s resolutions are made every year. The dawning of a new year often brings a renewed sense of self. We pause, analyze and reflect on the past year. We also resolve to improve some aspect of our lives. This willingness to be better, do better and aspire for better is evidenced by the resolutions that people keep. Indeed, the top resolutions for Americans, for instance, are in some way related to improving ones health or wealth. This includes losing weight, quitting smoking and changing careers to name a few. Unfortunately, not everyone succeeds at keeping their new year’s resolution. Consequently, in this article, I will talk about 5 reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail and ways to remedy this.
1. Not Having a Plan
In business as in life, you need a plan if you hope to reach your goals. Start by deciding what you are trying to accomplish. Write down your resolution and make sure it is specific enough so that you can measure your progress against it. An example of a good resolution is “I plan to lose 12 lbs this year.” This is concise and specific, which is what you want. “My resolution is to lose weight.” This is not a good resolution because it is too vague. Once you have a resolution, you need to determine what you need to do to get there – lose weight. Do you need to cut back on soda? Go to the gym an extra day? Walk more miles? Take up an extracurricular activity? And so on. Another important aspect of having a plan is to write your goals down and put them somewhere visible like your bathroom mirror. This milestones are important in helping you keep your resolution overall. So make sure to stick to them!
2. Setting Unrealistic Goals
Your ability to keep your resolution is strongly dependent on whether your goal is realistic in the first place. For instance, it may not be possible to lose 70 lbs during the year. This is quite an aggressive goal. With such a goal, you may be sabotaging yourself from the start! A resolution is basically a goal. When setting your goal (picking a resolution), follow the SMART criteria. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. The reason people give up on resolutions is not that they are not making progress; it is that they have barriers that prevent them from hitting their milestones. If you follow this blueprint, your changes of succeeding dramatically and keep you engaged to the end.
3. No Checkpoints
Checkpoints are crucial to keeping your resolution because they provide visibility and an opportunity for you to do a self-check and evaluate your progress. As part of your plan, consider breaking down your resolution into smaller goals. In our “losing weight” resolution example, you could break up the year into four parts. The number of parts is up to you but the more parts you have, the more “self-checks” you get to do. These four parts will be “checkpoints” that will serve as your milestones. Each milestone will be at a specific time in the year. For example, your first check point can be in March. The second in June, the third in September and the final in December. At each of these checkpoints, plan to evaluate your goal. Ask yourself: “Did I lose 3 lbs this quarter?” If you didn’t reach your goal for the quarter, ask yourself why. Find out what the issue was and make a correction to your plan. If you did reach your goal, celebrate your success appropriately.
4. Spreading Yourself Thin
Maybe you work two jobs, have children with extracurricular activities or other commitments. Whatever the reason, it is important to try and maintain a healthy work life balance. A balanced life schedule not only reduces stress but also helps keep you and your loved ones happy. If your personal commitments and your work leave you no time to pursue a hobby, you most likely will have a hard time sticking to a personal New Year resolution. To achieve a work life balance, plan to take more vacations during the year rather than one big one. If anything, take this time to recharge your batteries. At work, be honest about the amount of workload you take on. Don’t take on more than you can handle. If you are too busy, ask for help. This goes for your personal and your professional life. Even the most successful leaders ask for help and delegate when they need to. Break the monotony by taking part in social events. This will help fend off depression especially if you don’t have family around you.
5. Unwillingness to Change
Humans are creatures of habit. We have an innate ability to adapt to the most unusual circumstances in life. Yet, we tend to sometimes resist change and fall back to what is most familiar to us. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, the moment you resolve to do something, you have to change something. Let me say this again. To resolve is to commit to change. This change means that you will do something better!
Going back to our earlier resolution of losing weight, take a moment and think about the things that could be preventing you from reaching your goal. Write down as many as you can think off. These are obstacles that could get in the way of you keeping your New Year’s resolution. Now some of these maybe things that you don’t want to change for whatever reason, even when a better alternative is available. For example, you may have a gym membership in one part of town but a recent facility opened up closer to you. Sure, you have to drive through traffic to get there but you don’t want to bother changing anything. This unwillingness to make the change is a self imposed barrier to your resolution. If one day you don’t feel like dealing with traffic, you may skip the gym “just this once”. But then followed by another and another. In short, change that can positively affect your life is generally a good one to make.
What about you? What is the most challenging thing in keeping a New Year’s resolution? Leave a comment below.