How to set successful New Year Resolutions
The terminology that we use when talking about our resolutions is often associated with shame and guilt. Using the phrase “should do something” gives us an excuse to not do it.
Resolutions are often health or finance based and straight after the holidays is a bad time to tackle things like that.
Getting healthy for the New Year or managing your finances better tend to be the most popular resolutions for people and surveys suggest that only 8% of people who set resolutions tend to be successful.
Why do we fail at our resolutions?
At this time of year, some of us can set huge expectations that we “must” or “should” make ourselves different. We can get carried away, and understandably so, with the huge marketing effort that stokes up desires at this time of year that becoming different is somehow expected. But this isn’t a great reason to be setting New Year resolutions and the reason we fail is that we don’t really believe we can do it or know the reasons for why we are doing them in the first place.
For some of us, New Year resolutions are just a thing of fun and we don’t take them too seriously because we “know” we will fail at them anyway!
However, whatever our reasons, we can easily get carried away in the moment and often set unrealistic goals. For example, setting a goal to go to the gym 5 times per week when you normally go only once or twice a month might be just too hard. We can find ourselves justifying failure – “oh it’s just a New Year resolution” – but you may still be left with feelings of failure and thinking you’re not living up to your true potential and this impacts how we feel about ourselves, our confidence levels and possibly self-worth. For some, there may be additional feelings of shame and guilt. To be successful we need realistic and achievable goals, and psychologically we need to want to be successful.
How to do New Year Resolutions successfully:
- Set realistic goals with a clear start or endpoint. Successful change tends to happen in small chunks and over time. Set yourself simple goals and then scale up your goals as you succeed. For example, if you are already a runner and regularly run 5ks, deciding to do a 10k maybe how you move on to eventually doing a half marathon and then a full marathon. Enjoy every small success in your journey, whatever your target.
- Believe in yourself, your goals and have a positive attitude. To achieve any goal you need to have faith that you can do it. Try to label your New Year Resolutions as a fun thing to do. This way you can go into them with a light heartedness and this provides a mental framework that will more easily allow you to achieve your goals.
- Don’t wait until the new year to start your change. If there is something important that you really should get cracking on, just jump in. Try not to label or associate them as New Year Resolutions as this creates more opportunity to fail. Think of them more as lifestyle changes.
- Get yourself an accountability buddy. Challenging yourself with someone else as social support can be really helpful and having a partnership is a great way to celebrate the milestone sucesses along the way.
- Say your resolutions out loud. This can give you some ownership and personal responsibility. They become more “sticky” than having them in your head or writing them down. Saying them out loud can make your resolutions harder to break.
- Be kind to yourself. Make aure that you are continually assessing and reviewing your goals and check in on how you can make them more achievable and successful. As you build on your success you become even more successful.