Why Do New Year Resolutions Fail?
Why Do New Year Resolutions Fail?
Updated: 7th January 2020. After just one week most people will have abandoned their New Year resolutions or they are on a serious decline, eg., well, are you still going to the gym every week? You have most likely stopped puzzling over the reasons why and just resign yourself to what has become a normal pattern and outcome.
In this short article I intend to provide some clues into why and to share insights into what we can do to maintain our focus and achieve our goals.
First of all, our approach needs adjusting from negative to positive. For example, ‘losing weight’ or “I don’t want to be this fat!” are negative goals, while ‘improving health’ or ‘achieving our ideal weight’ are positive goals. Let’s be playful to make this point clear. Imagine that you are a Satnav, once you have been given your destination you are on your way with the best route you find possible; if you happen to take a wrong turn, as a Satnav you always recalculate to get you back on track. True? What if you needed to get to Liverpool but were given a destination of “I don’t want to go to Manchester.” Would you expect to be directed to Liverpool? No!
The very description of New Year ‘Resolution’ seems somewhat negative in itself, suggesting that you have things to resolve – rather than achieve. Let’s make New Year Achievements instead!
Next, achieving our goals or our New Year Achievements often depends on being motivated. This also needs tweaking because motivation is generally dependent on doing something we like or enjoy. So sticking with the example of the gym, if we wake up one morning and feel lazy and don’t want to go to the gym, do we usually go?
So what is the antidote? This is so easy that it will make this article very very short. My apologies in advance. The antidote is to make a clear and firm decision. You tell yourself clearly and with energy and enthusiasm: “I now commit to going to the gym every day to improve and maintain my health.” Think it! Say it! Write it down! Stick post-it notes on your bathroom mirror! Do it!
This last point is very important! It is something that applies to every goal we attempt. It is the decision and commitment to achieving our goal that will make the difference. We need to decide that no matter what, “I will go to the gym every day.” or “I will drink 2 litres of water every day.” or, if our goals are business orientated,“I will increase my business sales from £15,000 to £20,000 per month within 3 months.”, “I will write and publish my book by the end of March 2020.”
Be absolutely sure that it is the firm decision that will make the difference – not motivation and waiting and hoping to feel like doing it. I can say this with complete certainty because I have experienced this often. For example, over 30 years ago, 30 cigarettes would pass through my lungs a day. One day I decided that I was a non-smoker. No stick-on patches or vapes or hypnosis. Just a clear and firm decision. Was it easy? No! But I have never had a cigarette since that day. Also, about 8 years ago I attended an inspiring and health related seminar in Switzerland. At the end of this event I made a handful of decisions that I felt would improve my health: drink more water, get more exercise, eat more fruit and vegetables, stop eating meat, cut out fizzy drinks, cows milk and coffee, and a few more. I did all this with one major clear and determined decision. Was it always easy? No! But I did it anyway and I am indeed much healthier.
Remember that it is your decisions that will make the difference to your life. So what decisions will you make right now to ensure that your tomorrow is better than your today? Or will you wait for the 1st January 2021 to repeat the process of making a ‘New Year Resolution’ that you know you won’t commit to? It is your choice!
I wish you well.
Business Life Coach
Ps. I feel as though there needs to be an important ps here about distractions. It is essential that we recognise and accept that life is very distracting and will always pull us away from our goals if we allow it. We have all experienced making a decision, eg., “I will run a marathon this year!”. Only to be distracted by people who convinced us that we are too old, too out of condition, too busy to train, too fat… and/or we allowed other events in our lives to soak up more of our attention, take precedence and to remove our focus from our goal. All the while you are convincing yourself the ‘motivation’ will ‘come soon’. The antidote is still the same: make a clear and firm decision and stick to it no matter what. Forget trying – just decide and do!
6 responses on Why Do New Year Resolutions Fail?
Great advice here Anthony, I am always waiting for ‘motivation’ to greet me/slap me in the face. I also use lack of motivation for an excuse for not achieving or even starting my goals. I read this and it certainly triggered a decision to sign up to a swimming membership which I have been putting off!
Happy to hear that it helped you to take action Jodi. Be sure to make the decision to keep going no matter what!
Great pragmatic advice from you again as always Anthony. Making a clear and firm decision is behind many of my successes and not doing so is often the cause of my failures. We have to be prepared to back up our intentions for progress with consistent effort and determination. And I’m often amazed at how simple and relatively easy that progress is once the hard work of making the decision – and having it set in stone in your mind – has been achieved.
Thank you for your comments Claire. Yes it is definitely our decisions that make the difference to our lives. Waiting for inspiration or motivation or when we ‘try’ are much weaker and less effective than when we make a clear and firm decision. Wishing you a happy and productive day!
Great advice Anthony. I especially like the tip to include the reason why in the resolution itself. Not much difference between ‘I will run 3 times a week’ and ‘I will run 3 times a week to improve my health’ but I have just committed myself to a Friday morning run on the strength of it. It has reminded me that it is more important than the other things fighting for my Friday morning attention!
Hello Sheila, thank you for your comments. Yes having that extra reason why does make all the difference and a Friday morning run sounds great! All the best with your Mindfulness classes and events.