Reasons Why New Year's Resolutions Fail and How To Make Them Happen
The Cold Hard Facts
Wouldn’t you love to have a dollar for every time someone made a New Year’s resolution and then failed? We could all retire right now, move to the Bahamas, and keep getting residual checks with each batch of failed resolutions in the future.
Research shows that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are given up by January 31st.
Be honest: how many of you have entered the New Year with a fire in your belly and a firm resolve to boldly change your lives, only to crawl back to reality a month or two later, whipped once again by the sobering thought that you just didn’t have what it took this time? Despite the failure, you try again the following year, and then the next, only to once again tuck tail between your legs and embrace defeat.
Why is that? Why do so many people attempt resolutions knowing full well that the odds are against them? More importantly, why do they continually fail?
Why Do People Fail?
Now we get down to the nitty gritty! Why do we continually fail at something we obviously want so badly? Maybe if we know why we are falling short of our goals, we can do something about it.
I am no psychologist, but to my untrained mind, the reasons why our resolutions end up in the dumpster next to unwanted Christmas presents are as follows:
· We are hard-wired to fail
· Our resolutions are too big in scope
· We forget our resolutions as time moves on
· We forget that we all need support
· We announce our resolutions to the world
· We fail to make our resolutions personal
Let’s take a look at each of these and maybe that will help us to see how we have set ourselves up for failure.
We Are Hard-wired to Fail
Think about this for a second. What is it you want to change with your resolution? Do you want to eat less, drink less, or exercise more? The reason you want to do those things is because you feel you are doing too much of the opposite, correct? You eat too much, drink too much, or hardly exercise at all.
You have formed a habit of mind and body in doing those negative things you now want to eliminate. Your brain is wired to eat too much, or drink too much, or not exercise. This needs to be addressed before any successful change can happen.
Our Resolutions Are Too Big in Scope
Oh my goodness! Does this sound familiar? I’m going to lose twenty pounds by February? I’m going to give up drinking coffee for the New Year. I’m going to eat 1000 fewer calories and exercise one hour per day.
The problem with those resolutions is that they are too big! They are such lofty goals that they are discouraging, and once we become discouraged with a goal, the goal is close to being discarded.
We Forget Our Resolutions As Time Goes On
Remember the hard-wired brain point? We have been doing the opposite of the resolution for months, if not years. That is what we are accustomed to doing. The resolution is new to us, and it doesn’t fit into our normal daily routine. Eventually, it is forgotten….maybe one day the first week, then two days the second week, and before we know it, life got in the way and a whole month went by without even a thought to the resolution.
We Forget That We All Need Support
Yes, we do, so there is no reason to deny it. We all need a cheerleader! We all need a drill sergeant. Well all need someone who is going to support us in our efforts. Without someone like that, we are doomed to fail, because few people have the self-control, determination, and willpower to succeed with a major lifestyle change on their own.
Advise from an expert
We Announce Our Resolutions to the World
To this writer, this is a kiss of death, and for a couple reasons. One, it puts pressure on the person to meet expectations, and pressure and stress are never good things.
Two, once we fail at the resolution, we now have shame and embarrassment, because we told all 2000 of our Facebook friends that we were going to do this thing. Talk about feeling like a loser!
We Fail to Make Our Resolutions Personal
What does this mean? There has to be a reason for doing these resolutions that will touch us in our heart. When we realize on a personal level that this resolution is important for improving our health, or for lengthening our life so we can spend more time with our family, then that is more important than just saying “I’ll feel better.”
Are You Making Resolutions This New Year?
Positive thoughts produce positive actions and a positive lifestyle. This isn't rocket science folks; you are what you think!
So What Do We Do About All of This?
Now we are really getting down to it, aren’t we? Now we know why we are failing; what can we do about it? Well let’s take a look at each of the reasons listed above and see if we can’t logically defeat them. What follows are a few suggestions that will address many of the reasons why you have failed in the past.
Assuming that you are trying to change behavior that has been cultivated over many months, if not years, then your job is not a ho-hum affair. The negative actions that have brought you to the point of resolution need to be reversed, as does your thinking. Think of those negative actions as GIGO, or Garbage In/Garbage Out. Harmful or negative messages have been sent to the brain for a long time. Now it is time to change all that to PIPO, or Positive In/Positive Out.
Do not hesitate to pat yourself on the back when you complete one day of a successful resolution. In that same vein, surround yourself with positive and supportive friends who will support you as well as pat you on the back each and every day. If you do not believe you can do this thing, you won’t do it. In this instance, positive reinforcement will beat back negative thoughts, but it is an ongoing battle.
Tackle your resolution in smaller increments so that they are doable. Instead of saying you will lose fifty pounds by summer, say you will lost ten pounds by Valentine’s Day. Summer is a vague concept, and fifty pounds is a mammoth number to contemplate. Break it all down to totals that can be attained fairly quickly so you can experience some positive reinforcement.
In fact, with that as a guide, don’t make a New Year’s resolution. Instead, make a 1st Quarter resolution, and then a 2nd Quarter resolution, and so on, and each Quarter you can have smaller resolutions that will add up to a big resolution at the end of 2013.
Do not announce to Facebook or your church group or the VFW. Do not set yourself up for failure and personal embarrassment. This should be a personal quest. Why are you doing it? How important is it to you? What will it mean to you to accomplish this? All of those are personal questions with personal answers. You do not need 2000 people involved; your name is not Lindsay Lohan so there is no need to go viral with this.
Finally, set up a system where you cannot possibly forget this resolution. Put post it notes all through your house. Leave messages on your cell phone and your computer account, so that alerts are posted to you daily, or even hourly. Have a trusted friend call you daily to remind you. Do not assume for a second that you will remember to do this; remember, you are trying to change a behavior that has been nourished for quite some time. Forgetting the resolution is easy to do unless you safeguard against it.
Did That Help?
Well, I hope so, and I wish all of you the best of luck in tackling those new resolutions.
If you should fail then pick yourself up and start all over again. Remember that the best hitter in the history of Major League baseball only got a hit four times out of every ten times to the plate. There is no shame in failing to achieve a goal. Figure out where you went wrong and try again. We human beings are pretty resilient, and we have a grit that is admirable.
Happy New Year!
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)