An old legend says that new year resolutions fail by the end of February (if you’re persistent and lucky). A study concluded that more than 80% of new year resolutions fail by the end of the second week of February, according to Business Insider.
The beginning of a new year brings a lot of positive energy and hopes that we will become better individuals and that the world will be a better place also. All that energy is really good and it would be a shame to let it go to waste. Sadly, we choose to focus that energy in new year resolutions (or goals). In the end (in February to be more precise) we end up being very disappointed when we don’t achieve them, and of course is not our fault: it’s just another crappy year.
Here’s the truth: it’s not another crappy year, it can be an amazing year and here’s why new year resolutions fail:
1. You believe in something greater than you
And I don’t mean it in a religious way. You believe that the new year will totally transform your way of thinking and acting. Which could not be more false! Don’t put the bargain on the new year’s shoulders. A new year does not have any mystical powers that will make you skinny after one working out, or the new year will not read books and learn from them instead of you. So stop putting all your hopes in some magical energy.
2. You’re not being honest
If you think that after all the food and laziness, you’ll be able to start from 1st of January sharp to work out daily, you are fooling yourself. I know that being healthier is an important goal for a lot of us (including myself). But be honest with yourself and don’t set surrealistic goals.
3. You are overwhelmed
Because we get such an amazing boost of energy from the arrival of the new year, we think and truly believe that we can bring a lot of (positive) changes in our lives.
I remember when I used to attend coaching sessions and I told my coach my new year’s goals: to floss daily, to read 20 books, to brush my teeth twice daily, to take better care of my skin, to start jogging, and so on. And all of the sudden she stopped me and asked:
Don’t you think there are a little too many things to achieve in a short period of time?
And after that, my brain literally melted, because I understood why I was always failing achieving my goals. I was setting to many and I was bringing too many changes into my life all of a sudden. Change is not comfortable for human beings. Even if they are positive, we don’t adapt easily to changes and we get overwhelmed fast.
So take it easy, one step at a time. I struggle with taking up flossing for a couple of years now. My first goal was to floss at least once per week. I know it sounds ridiculous, but now I floss 4 to 5 times per week and I’m very proud of it – so it my dentist. And my gums.
4. You make your goals public
I know that there are a lot of bloggers out there that dedicate whole blog posts including their goals for the new year. Also, telling your goals to your friends seems quite rational, right? They might actually help you achieve your goals. This might be true.
A study has proven that people who are telling their goals, or make them public in any way, tend to not achieve them. Derek Sivers explains in this TED talk why you should keep your goals to yourself and what the study revealed.
I agree with this 100% because every single time I tell my friends and family about some of my goals, they don’t happen. The TED talk explains it all.
Self-discipline takes time and a lot of determination, psychologists say. Also, they are not really keen on new year resolutions, because they know they usually fail. Failing achieving a new year resolution can turn into low self-esteem and sometimes, even depression.
I have mixed feelings about resolutions and goals. On one hand, I’m a perfectionist and I want to have my goals written down so I can track them. On the other hand, I feel really miserable when I see that I didn’t achieve them. Which makes me not wanting to write and track them anymore.
Anyway, how’s your new year resolution going so far?