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11 Reasons why new year’s resolutions fail and how to make them work

 

Dr. Elizma van der Smit. December 2017

· Life Skills

The start of the New Year is often the perfect time to turn a new page in your life, which is why so many people make New Year's resolutions. But why do so many resolutions fail? Why is it so difficult to follow through and reach our goals as we initially intended to?

Reasons why your new year’s resolutions fail:

  • You know you’re what but not your why you want it. Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? If you know exactly why you want it, the more encouraged you’ll be and the more likely it is you will succeed
  • Your expectations were not realistic. It’s great to make resolutions that will challenge you a bit and allow you to grow and learn new things in the process, but taking on too much will only exhaust and dishearten you, making you more likely to give up.
  • Your resolutions were not properly defined. “I want to travel more”, “I want to lose weight” and “I will do my job better” are not very good resolutions. They are too vague and don’t lead to a specific outcome. Not only should you be able to define what you want to achieve, but you should also have a step-by-step plan of how you are going to get there and how you will track your progress.
  • You didn’t have the right mindset. Wanting something and working towards getting it are two fundamentally different things. It can be difficult to focus on fulfilling a resolution when you are not in a good place in your life. If you are not mentally prepared for all the hard work, distractions and setbacks that might be ahead of you, you will most likely fail.
  • You’re treating a marathon like a sprint. Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).
  • You don’t believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).
  • Your time management skills are lacking.  You had a goal, a plan and the best of intentions. But then life got busy… Managing your time effectively is not about crossing all the entries off your to-do list; it is about knowing what your priorities are and getting the right things done first.
  • You are living distracted. Even the most minor distractions slow you down, wasting your energy and time –and keep you away from things that you really want. Distractions make you feel busy and tired all the time, and frustrated at the lack of progress despite your best efforts. By eliminating unnecessary distractions from your everyday routines, you will be able to make time for things that really matter to you and get one step closer to fulfilling the promises that you made to yourself.
  • Too much thinking, not enough doing. The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action.
  • You don’t track your progress. Keeping a written record of your progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen.  Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.
  • You have no social support. It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook or asking your friends or coworkers if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

So, if you're going to make New Year's resolutions, here's some tips to help you make them work:

  1.  Focus on only one resolution, rather several;
  2. Set realistic, specific goals. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds in 90 days would be;
  3. Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too big a step all at once;
  4. Track your progress. “If you can measure it, you can change it” is a fundamental principal of psychology. These measurements will be a source of motivation as you reflect on where you started and where you are.
  5.  Have an accountability buddy, someone close to you that you have to report to;
  6. Celebrate your success between milestones. Don't wait the goal to be finally completed;
  7. Focus on the present. What's the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal?
  8. Have patience. Making lasting changes takes time.
  9. Publicize your goals to friends and family. As embarrassing as it might be to announce your specific resolution to the world, social support is critical. Yes, it takes some personal courage and vulnerability to share something that you might actually fail at, but to dramatically increase your odds of success you’ll want support from those around you.
  10. Put it on your schedule. How often do you hear people say they can’t “find the time” to do something? Nobody finds time. We all choose to spend our time the way we do—whether that’s eating junk food or going to a spin class. Make your new goals a priority and actually schedule them into your calendar. That which is scheduled gets done.
  11. Stop “all or nothing” thinking; it’s better do something than nothing.
  12. Get up, when you slip up. None of us are perfect. Don’t turn relapses or temporary failures into total meltdowns or excuses for giving up. Instead, just acknowledge the mistake and recommit to the path.

Resources

This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.

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blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.