Why your New Year’s resolutions will fail (and how to get back up)
Let's just put it out there that we hardly make good of our resolutions. We start off strong. For a few months, we strive just as hard to stick to all our good intentions. We make promises to go to the gym, eat healthier, lose weight, give up sugar, spend more time with loved ones, anything and everything to make greater improvements to our lives. But almost as rapid as the fire comes on, the desire distinguishes just as fast too. A study found that 80 percent of resolutions are abandoned by February. Yikes!
In the last few years, I've made minor wishes and intentions here and there to set my focus for a few weeks and that about does it for me. Perhaps, if like yours truly, you don't believe in resolutions but would like to actually finish something for once, these fails below might just help you understand the 'whys' of your journey better. Nobody said it was going to be easy but you will find that the drive is just as important as the destination.
You didn't get down to the nitty gritty
A goal needs to be specific enough for you to actually have a chance of realising it. Many times we give up halfway because we are uncertain about what we actually want, how to do it and the vague confusion only serves to demotivate us. Ask yourself, why is this resolution important to you and plot out how you are going to achieve this goal. Remember—a resolution without a plan remains just a dream.
Try this – if you're keen to pick up a new skill, state your intention as clearly as "I will go for watercolour painting classes every Saturday before March ends" instead of "I will sign up for art class". If you want to eat more greens, plan out your meals for the week. The same goes with your weight loss plan, set a target to drop 5kg by the sixth week. These are all achievable goals, which you can then break down the tasks you'll need to do to get there in a finite amount of time.
You're too harsh on yourself
When it comes to resolutions, you may not be seeing any sign of progress or things are not going as fast as you thought it would. You may feel impatient in the process and question whether this goal is even doable or desirable anymore. That's ok, understand that humans are deeply rooted in our behaviour and it is much more complex than just changing simple habits. We're embedded in intricate psychological, social and neurocircuitry systems, so to make a change it involves things that are beyond our awareness.
Try this – break down your goals into smaller targets and always take a moment to celebrate your little wins. Reward and give yourself something to look forward to when you reach the next milestone so you'll feel good and motivated to work towards the next one. According to a joint study from Cornell University and the University of Chicago, people were more likely to stick to their resolutions when they were getting immediate rewards from their new habits. So get that massage you so deserve after working your butt off the extra kilos!
You avoid the uncomfortable
A change is always daunting. It can get overwhelming and it may seem as though there are a lot of uncertainties on how you can attain your goals. You may even feel a certain pressure from your environment, loved ones or even yourself. Before you know it, you throw in the towel before you even start. Plus, it doesn't help that the long road ahead also feels like it's too much, too soon. It seems easier to just make excuses to stay away from the path that you need to get on to grow.
Try this – get (un)comfortable with the what, when, where and why. By avoiding something that makes you anxious and out of whack, it may leave you feel less anxious for now but in the long run, there is a build-up of anxiety. So by actually facing what you've been avoiding, you will realise that there is gradually less tension and stress in your body and mind. Just remind yourself—you have to tolerate the short-term anxiety in order to experience the long-term fulfilment of your dreams.
Good luck everyone!
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