Have you already given up on your New Years Resolutions?
It is already mid January and most of us are back to our routines after the holiday season. A lot of us, are also already struggling to keep up with our New Years Resolutions, if we have not already given up on them altogether. By the second week of the year, 31% of people will have already abandoned their goals, and by the end of the month that number will grow to just under 50%, Fast Company reports.
So why are we so notoriously bad at sticking to our good intentions?
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we don´t put the necessary tools in place, which will allow us to convert resolutions into actions that will ultimately make us achieve our goals. These actions, consistently performed over time will become regular habits. I really enjoy the subject of habit formation and how we can sustainably build them into our lives and therefore improve our health and happiness.
New Years Resolutions will only remain wishful thinking, unless we become a bit more sophisticated in the way we plan to execute the actions that will allow us to reach our goals.
So lets dig a bit deeper into key reasons why we fail:
Motivation fades quickly:
It is easy to get excited on the 31st of December, about all the good things we are going to do in the New Year and how we will leave all that is bad in our lives behind. This, as such, is a great starting point; the calendar allows us to draw a line start afresh. Come to think of it, you could do so any other day of the year, too. But the fact that a lot of others choose this particular day to join in, helps with setting the intention in the first place.
As with every mid-long term project the challenge, though, is how to keep that momentum going and maintain high spirits throughout the remaining 364 days of the year.
Too many Resolutions:
It is great to have good intentions, but it is wise to keep them to a small number. Remember a resolution is ideally a broad goal that may have multiples actions deriving from it. Therefore, if you have too many, you may not only soon loose focus, but also find it overwhelming to implement.
I only have 3 Resolutions for this year and one of them is to keep leading a healthy and active life. That is quite broad and encompasses a lot of things that I already do and some that I don´t do at all or want to do more of. For example I want to keep up my cardio workouts, which I really enjoy (my running, my cycling), but I also want to become stronger this year and therefore need to incorporate some strength routines into my physical activity.
It is great to have a broad goal, but this needs to be broken down into measurable specifics that will allow you to know when you have reached it. Going back to the example above; how will I know that I have reached my goal of becoming stronger?
I have specifically set myself the target to be able to do 5 push ups (properly executed) by the 1st of July. By doing so, I have a clear target and even a date in mind and this will help me stay focussed within my broader goal. Then I have derived some specific actions that will allow me to reach my goal. They are simple, that is why I am confident that I can incorporate them into my daily routines and with time make them a habit. Specifically I will:
Again these activities are simple and don´t take up up a lot of time to do, so planning them into my day/week I will ensure they (almost) run on autopilot.
Often we overestimate what we can realistically achieve in a certain amount of time, or the sacrifices we need to do in order to get there. I am of the opinion that it is better to set little goals, celebrate the small victories and be amazed at how they add up over time, rather than to try to “eat the elephant” with one bite. This does not mean that the overall aim should´t be grand. By all means, make it your resolution to become a millionaire, but be realistic about how quickly you can get there and what needs to happen for it.
You may think that 5 push ups is ridiculous and it probably is for somebody else. For me, however it would mean a big achievement, regardless of whether, come July, I am able to do 5, 10 or even 20 pushups. But 5 is doable an objective that feels motivating and rewarding and therefore the chances of me sticking with it are much higher.
Enjoy the process and don´t beat yourself up if you have small failures along the way
As with every personal goal, New Years resolutions should be fun and fulfilling to tackle. If you have not managed to rephrase them in a way that makes you feel good about them you really should try to do so, otherwise keeping the energy levels up week after week will be much harder. You should reward yourself, if you have managed to complete a week/month of your activities and likewise, don´t be too hard on yourself if there are days when you have slacked off. Don´t aim for perfection, but try to maintain an overall positive trend that will sustainably change your life for the better.
It is the 15th January and I have kept my 2 activities going for all days except 2. This is a 86% fulfilment rate which I am proud of. It may not be 100% but as long as I keep up the good work, I think I am on the right path for achieving my goal.
How are your Resolutions coming along? Are you successful, or struggling? Let me know!
Images are courtesy of Stocksnap and Pixabay.