Laying down your New Year’s resolutions can be a pretty daunting task—especially because research suggests that a vast majority of us are unsuccessful in our attempts. According to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year's resolutions is said to be about 80 per cent, with most of the subjects losing their will to continue working on these newfound goals by mid-February. But why exactly do we set ourselves up for failure, and can we fix that? Let’s find out.
Related Story: 5 Self-care Habits To Take Into The New Year
Why do most New Year resolutions fail?
Your goal isn’t specific
One of the biggest reasons people fail to keep their New Year's resolutions is because they are not clear enough. For example most of us will pull out that diary and write “I will start working out this year” and buy a year’s worth of gym membership. Now the question is, how are you planning on tracking your progress? Are you motivated enough to wake up early and go to the gym everyday? Did you consider other ways of staying healthy? What you should do instead is try setting specific goals that you can visibly track. So instead of saying “I will work out every day”, try something like “I will run ten miles every week” and don’t forget to reward yourself once you achieve these small milestones.
You are setting yourself up for failure
Or in other words—you are biting more than you can chew. Now this is simple. After closing the final chapter of the year, there’s a sense of adventure that is begging you to do something new, something challenging in the New Year. While it’s a good thing to challenge yourself with hard tasks—there’s a limit to it. For example, after eating way too much dessert at a party, you vow to swear off sugar forever. But after a week or two, you take a bite here and there and then come February, it’s back to square one. See where the problem is? You’re setting unrealistic goals that will ultimately blow up in your face. So instead of saying “I will never eat dessert again”, try something like “I will eat more fresh fruits,”
Your resolutions are not rooted in self-care
One of the biggest obstacles people face is the tendency to make New Year's resolutions that don't even reflect what they actually want. This might sound silly at first but if you closely monitor your behaviour around this time of the year, you’ll realise that peer pressure and wellness trends tend to influence you way more than they should. No, you don’t need to go gluten free just because everyone around you is doing that this year. You must understand that these goals shouldn’t be about proving a point or showing others that you can achieve something. Instead, keep your resolutions private and focus on improving your mental and physical health the way you want to.
How can you make sure that you stick to your resolutions?
Pick the right resolutions
You will have a significantly higher chance of finding success if you set a goal that is achievable and meaningful. Like we said earlier, most resolutions fail because either they are too vague or a result of peer pressure. To avoid that, follow this simple mental checklist coined by the American journal Management Review. Before you set a goal, ask yourself: is it a SMART decision? Is it:
- Specific: it should be a concrete goal and not just a hypothetical wish.
- Measurable: you should be able to measure your progress so that you can get better results.
- Achievable: your goals should actually be within reach. Otherwise you are just setting yourself up for failure.
- Relevant: it should be something that will benefit you mentally, physically and emotionally.
- Time-bound: along with being attainable, your goals should also be defined by time boundaries.
Frame your goals with positive language
A big mistake we all make is setting resolutions out of a feeling of self-hatred. For example, when we wish to stop wasting money or stop eating junk food, it often backfires because it makes us think about the very thing we are trying to avoid. This can be easily solved by channeling positivity while deciding your resolutions. So instead of saying something like “I will not eat junk food this year”, say: “I will eat more green vegetables this year,” and instead of saying “I will stop wasting money”, say “I will save ₹5000/- every month,”
Figure out a plan that actually works for you
You know that your end goal won’t just magically appear, right? You need a well laid out plan in order to achieve success. Not only do you need to work towards making your goal a reality, you also need to dodge the hurdles that will pop up along the way. If you’re trying to form or break a habit, try magnifying a little and dividing it into three parts. For example, if your goal is to reduce your screen time, focus on the following:
- Problem: My screen time is alarmingly high
- Why: I feel lonely and bored
- What I usually do: I spend way too much time on online forums
- The solution: I should spend more time with my friends and join offline clubs
Focus on the small picture
Most of the time, our resolutions are too big, too ambitious and ultimately require too much energy. This is one of the main reasons why we give them up altogether and carry on with our old habits. The solution? Instead of trying to improve the big picture by taking monumental decisions, why don’t you focus on making micro changes to your everyday life? You know, the small victories. After all, it’s the little drops that make the mighty ocean.
Step away from the constant need for perfection
It’s a well known fact that you are evolving with each passing day. This is why the end term goal is not to be perfect, but to be better than you were yesterday. Yes, it’s as simple as that. We often judge ourselves by comparing ourselves to other people—be it at the office or on Instagram—and that is something that leads to unrealistic expectations. But you never know how those people achieved their goals. Their journey is completely different and irrelevant to your journey. Think of yourself as your only competition and most importantly—don’t be afraid of failure.
Want to try again? Do it. Remember, a resolution doesn’t need to be tied to New Year’s. You can always try next month, next week, or even tomorrow. In the end, you can only achieve positive growth if you are kind to yourself. Treat your inner voice like a curious child—willing to do anything and everything to be better. Get up each time you fall and try again—be it for the second time or the fifteenth.