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 …and What You Can Do About It

Like a great many people, you have probably made some New Year Resolutions at the start of the year.

And like a great many people, you will almost certainly fail to keep them.

Indeed, according to research done by the University of Scranton, 92% of people fail to keep their resolutions over the year – which means that only 8% of people actually succeed with their resolutions!

Fewer than 1 in 12 people succeed in keeping their New Year Resolutions. It doesn't have to be that way! #DitchYourResolutionsDay Click To Tweet

Indeed, in recognition of this, 17th January each year is “Ditch Your New Year Resolution Day” (complete with its own obligatory social media hashtag, #DitchYourResolutionsDay on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more) – a date by which usually around 30% of people have already failed to keep their New Year Resolutions.

Does this mean New Year Resolutions are bad and worthless?

Absolutely not!

The reason I am writing this is not to say you should not make New Year Resolution.

My point is simply that if you are going to do so, do you want to be in the 92% who fail, or do you want to be in the 8% who succeed?

I’m going to go ahead and assume you want to be in the 8% who succeed – because after all, what’s the point in making them if you don’t intend to keep them, right?

So let’s take a look at the main reasons why people fail to keep their resolutions, and see what we can learn to help us be in the 8%.

Main Reasons People Fail to Keep Their New Year Resolutions

1. Not doing it for yourself

For perhaps the majority of people, the reason they make New Year Resolutions is because it is The Done Thing. Society tells us we should make them. Our friends cajole us into making resolutions. So we make them because it’s what we are supposed to do.

Which means for many people, New Year Resolutions are simply Goals we set to please Other People

As anyone who knows about goal setting already lan own, a goal must be something YOU want to do. So you must set it because YOU want to set it, not just because someone else told you that you need some goals.

Typically what happens is someone will ask you what your New Year Resolutions are, and having not really given the matter much thought you might reply something along the lines of “I dunno, lose some weight I suppose, maybe get a bit fitter”

How much commitment is there to those goals? Very little!

So it is unsurprising when you fail to keep those goals when life gets in the way or when it starts to get a bit hard – announcing that you are going to take up jogging is easy to do while having a few celebratory drinks on New Year’s Eve – it gets a lot harder when it’s pouring with rain for the 5th successive day, and it’s cold, and your favourite show is on TV, and you had a thought day at the office…

2. Making Them Too Big

Yes, it is true that with goals we are encouraged to make them big, massive even. “Make them so big that even if you fail, you will still be much better off!”

However, we still have to make them realistic and achievable – we still have to give ourselves a chance of success! It’s no use setting impossible New Year Resolutions and then wondering why we fail to keep them.

By way of illustration, back in 1962, then US president John F Kennedy set the very ambitious goal of sending man to the Moon, landing, and then returning safely, before the decade was out. A massive goal, to be sure, but one which they succeeded in doing in 1969. However, had he said they would go to the Moon and back within 2 years? Well, that would have just been flat-out impossible.

The very important difference between a big-yet-achievable goal, and a so-big-it’s-impossible one.

And so it is with our New Yer Resolutions. Far too many people make them SO huge that they are impossible to achieve – they never give themselves a chance.

“I’m going to run the London Marathon this year (even though I’ve never run further than the bus-stop before)”, or “I’m going to lose 6 stone” or whatever.

3. Making Too Many Resolutions

This is an absolute killer!

You know the sort of thing. The subject of New Year Resolutions comes up, and you confidently reel off your list of 15 resolutions – “I’m going to get fit, lose weight, take up jogging, learn 3 new languages, move house, get a new job, take up painting, write a novel, learn ballroom dancing…”

Woah woah woah!

When we do this, what usually happens is we end up so completely overwhelmed that we have no idea where to start, or we somehow find a ways to start them all but very quickly Life gets in the way (you know, pesky things like going to work, or eating, or having to actually find time to sleep…) and before we know it we are trying to cram 30 hours into each 24 hour day – of course something is going to give way, and that’s almost always the ludicrous number of Resolutions – one by one they fall by the wayside, pushed out because there’s too much going on.

And even if you DO somehow find the time for them all, you can’t realistically expect to get good at multiple things at once, you pull yourself on all sorts of different directions, you lose focus, and get disillusioned with it all.

And sure enough, you find yourself in the 92%…

4. Doing It Alone

No man is an island, as the saying goes, and so it is with our resolutions.

No matter how good we are, no matter how strong our willpower, we can all benefit from having a support network.

It doesn’t mater whether that is a formal affair (such as joining a weightless group, or joining your local running club), or a more informal arrangement with friends to keep each other on the straight and narrow.

Having someone who can kick out butt when we feel like giving up, and equally who will share our joys and every success along the way, is vital.

Being able to call upon others for help, support, advice when we get stuck makes an absolutely massive difference to our chances of success.

Share your Resolutions (you don’t have to share them with everyone, of course – not everyone will be supportive, and that’s just life. Share them with those who do care, who are supportive, and who will help). Find like-minded people who you can call upon for advice or support, and who you can support in return.

Just don’t try to do it alone, otherwise you’ll end up in the biggest group of all, the 92%ers!

How To Give Yourself The Best Chance Of Success

Now we have seen the main reasons why the vast majority of people fail to keep their New Year Resolutions, what can we do to give ourselves the greatest chance of success?

  1. Make sure the resolutions are which WE want to do for US.
  2. Make them realistically achievable
  3. Make them manageable – it is better to succeed at 2 resolutions this year than to fail at 10 every year!
  4. Grow a Support Network around you to help you through the bad times, to celebrate your successes, and to help you to achieve.
  5. Don’t wait for New Year, start NOW! Sure, you might decide to ditch some, many, or all of the resolutions you made at the start of the year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick one, RIGHT NOW, and fully commit to achieving it

It is said that the best time to plant a tree is 30 years ago; the second best time is right now.

It’s the same with Resolutions. Don’t wait until 31st December. If there’s a change you want to make (and you WANT to make it, not just something others tell you that you should be doing), part now!

You’ll stand a far greater chance of being in the 8%, and more importantly, your future self will thank you for starting right now with a realistic resolution and a supportive network!

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