I don’t think it’s a surprise that not many people succeed in keeping their New Year’s resolutions. Actually, 80% fail by February. Think about your own goals for 2019 — how many of them have you kept until now?
There are several reasons why resolutions fail, but there are also people who keep their resolutions throughout the year. Here are some of the common issues with making and starting your resolutions in January and the changes you can make now to help make 2020 the year you follow through.
Problem: Your goals aren’t your own
A lot of people start resolutions because everyone around them is doing the same. You might even pick the ones that seem glamorous on the surface, such as losing weight, exercising, or eating healthier. The problem here is that you aren’t invested in these goals. You’ve created the what (naming the goal), but you haven’t declared the how-to or why.
Solution: Declare your why
There’s nothing wrong with the goals above. All of those things lead to a healthier life. Answer this question, though: why do you want to do X? Are you exercising so you can be able to run a marathon? What if you dig deeper? Are you exercising to run the marathon because you want to prove to yourself you are capable of running for more than five minutes at a time? Now we are getting into the nitty-gritty of it. See how far down you can narrow your why and you’ll find yourself actually wanting to keep those goals rather than ignoring them.
Problem: You are overwhelmed
We all jump in to a new, shiny habit. Our encouragement is high, we dominate the process, and we are off to a good start… until it gets boring or overwhelming. Suddenly, it’s more effort to meal prep between tasks. You aren’t as excited to run another ten minutes because you’re sore. You had a late night and aren’t thrilled about setting that 5 A.M. alarm. It’s just too much.
Solution: Break it into chunks by making plans
When you sit down to make resolutions on January 1, you are already looking to the end of December. That’s twelve months away. There’s a million moving parts to each goal, even the simple ones, and you want to tackle it all at once. Instead, make a plan for each month. Even better, break it apart into weekly goals. Or you can make a goal for week one, sit down at the end of the week and see your progress, and then make the second week goal. The smaller chunks are more manageable and can help you evolve your strategy as the year progresses.
Problem: You want to see immediate results
We live in an age where we can get information at the click of a button. If a page takes longer than a few seconds to load, we get impatient or annoyed. We want to see the results of our efforts immediately, not months down the road.
Solution: Re-evaluate your resolution
There’s nothing against making changes to your resolution. That’s why breaking it into chunks is helpful. You can also add or subtract your sub-goals as you re-evaluate your progress. Say for the first month, you want to eliminate soda from your diet. After that first month, see how challenging it was and maybe add another step into that goal. Maybe in February you’re going to add a vegetable to each meal. Then in March you can find something new to adjust.
Problem: You’re surrounded by your old habit
When we make our goals, often we are only changing our internal habits. You want to change your diet, but you’ll still sit in the break room chatting with coworkers while the box of donuts is right in front of you. You want to exercise more, but you come home and it’s easier to just curl up on the couch and watch TV instead of lacing up your running shoes to get out.
Solution: Change your environment
Not only do resolutions require internal habits, it also requires a change in our external environment. Change where you chat with your coworkers — maybe you take your breaks out in the parking lot where you can get fresh air and move around. You can get into your running clothes while still at work. That way, when you get home, you are already dressed to run out the door. Or maybe you stop at the gym before you go home. You can also sleep in part of your running clothes if you prefer to work out in the morning. Changing the environment you’re surrounded with to be more conducive to your goals is key.
Problem: You put off starting your resolution until January 1
I get it. We all want to enjoy those last few cookies during the holiday season before we start the dreaded diet. We continue our bad habits, or don’t make changes to our habits, throughout the remainder of the year. We put off to tomorrow what we could be doing today. We all like that shiny number of starting on the first of the month or year.
Solution: Start small today so you can see better changes in 2020
There’s nothing against starting right now. It can still be a 2020 resolution, even if you start it in 2019! Here’s the thing — if you start small now, you’re able to see what works for you without the setback if you “fail”. If you want to give up soda in 2020, start now. See what challenges you face and learn from them so by the time January 1 hits, you know how to react to them. Let the end of November and December be your “trail run”. Learn how to set yourself up for success.
Most important of all resolutions is setting realistic goals and being kind to yourself. Many of us see one slip up as a reason to derail the entire year. That’s too much pressure! We are not perfect beings — no one is. So, be forgiving when you make a mistake. One soda or one missed workout isn’t the reason we ditch out on the whole year of resolutions. Work on yourself in increments and you’ll find yourself much more successful in 2020.