Plus some things you can do to ensure they DON’T!
So, be honest, how many of your New Year resolutions did you achieve last year?
My guess is not many, if any at all… Statistically nearly 90% of us FAIL to achieve our New Year Resolutions.
No surprise then that NOT setting New Year’s Resolutions is nearly as popular as making them in the first place!!
Here are just five of many common reasons why we fail to achieve them.
1. Being vague
By not being specific and by being deliberately vague we are able to “let ourselves off the hook” when we are failing to achieve our goals.
2. Setting too many
It’s hard enough to make one change in our behaviour and habits, so making a long list of changes and resolutions is doomed from the start
3. Setting complex resolutions.
Actually even the simplest resolutions (like weight loss) can have many layers of complexity. Breaking complex goals down is the key.
4. Being over ambitious.
It’s great to get excited and fired up about wanting to change the world. But there is nothing worse than setting unachievable goals. Better to not set any at all!
5. Expecting willpower alone will get you through.
Willpower is our very limited ability to deny what we want now in order to get what we want in the future. It is greatly overestimated. It wears out easily, recovers slowly, and you always need more of it later.
Resolutions vs. Habits
So how can you avoid being a majority statistic and start being a successful minority of people who achieve the New Year Resolutions?
The secret is in understanding the challenge our brain has in trying to manage a resolution or abstract objective that has multiple layers of complexity forged by pre-existing bad habits. Quite simply it can’t cope with or work well with abstract resolutions or outcome based goals. Instead, the key is to make any goal a habit first. And most importantly, make it a tiny one. Here is a few examples of how this translates to some of the three most common New Year’s resolutions
- Resolution: Quit smoking
- New Habit: Only stop smoking that one cigarette you have every morning after breakfast
- Resolution: Eat healthy food
- New Habit: Start substituting that one daily morning croissant for a banana
- Resolution: Lose Weight
- New Habit: Every evening after work, go for a 10-15 minute run or walk around the block.
By immediately breaking down each resolution and seeing what the smallest habit could be, your chances of succeeding will be 50% higher than if you leave it vague. There is nothing more, you make it so stupidly easy and simple for yourself to create that habit, that there is almost no way you can fail with it.
Coaches tip. My five simple ways to make your New Year’s Resolution stick
1. Pick only one resolution
Experiments have shown we go into “cognitive overload” if we try to stick to more than one New Year’s Resolution, it is near impossible for your brain to handle. Instead, analyse everything you’ve thought about wanting to change and pick the one thing that’s most important for you.
2. Take small steps – make it a tiny habit
Now that you’ve picked one resolution, make sure to break down as far as you can, to the simplest task possible. If your resolution is “Eat healthy food”, turn it into the tiniest habit possible – One cake at a time!
3. Hold yourself accountable for what you want to change: Tell others or write it down
It has been proven that the people around you can have a significant impact on your behaviour. So if you tell some of your friends and family about the new tiny habit you’ve created, you are much more likely to stick to it. This is a great way to create some self-accountability through the support of your friends and family network. Also, writing it down not only makes you more likely to succeed with your new habit but it has been proven to increase your overall happiness too!
4. Focus on the carrot not the stick – positive feedback and rewards will increase your chance of success
There is powerful evidence that clearly demonstrates that positive feedback and rewards on any of your new habits will increase the likelihood of your success with your new habitsresolutions. Treating yourself to a naughty snack is completely OK if you have been successful with new diet habits.
5. Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your new habit?
There is no better time to start your new positive habit than today, right now, after you have read this!
Have a great 2014!
I always welcome your feedback and comments..