The beginning of a new year is a prime time to commit to making a change in your life. By January 1st holiday festivities and the temptations that go with them are behind you and the 365 days that lie ahead are a blank slate. Enter the New Year’s resolution. According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 50% of the population makes them each year with a pledge to get in shape, lose weight, exercise more, etc. But of those millions, only 8% actually keep their resolutions. The rest start out like a firecracker but fizzle out like a sparkler by February.
Why is it so hard for people who start out with the best intentions to stick to their resolutions? While the specific reasons will vary from person-to-person, research has shown that in general most people fail because of the following:
- Their resolutions are not specific. Losing weight is among the most popular resolutions people make. But this is an excellent example of one that is far too vague. If losing weight is your resolution, how do you measure your success? If you’ve lost five pounds have you fulfilled your resolution? What do you do then? Instead, a resolution to drop 20 pounds in 6 months for example, puts you in a much better position for success because it is specific and it is measurable.
- People don’t have a plan. Using weight loss as an example again – if that is your goal, what is your strategy to achieve it? Come up with a detailed plan on how you’re going to do it. Will you change your nutrition? Will you implement an exercise regimen? What exactly will that entail? Putting some time into devising a plan you can follow will help you stay on track.
- Their resolutions are too restrictive. For example, while resolving to cut out all sugar from your diet is certainly admirable, it probably is not very realistic. Instead, commit to a phased approach where you can make small changes over time that add up to a big change by year’s end. According to doctors at Baylor College of Medicine, a tapered approach is much more likely to lead to success than an all or nothing method.
- People try to do it alone. Making a life change, especially a big one is much easier with support. Whether it’s a workout buddy who can meet you at the gym, a personal trainer who can keep you motivated or a friend or relative who checks in on your progress, having someone who holds you accountable to your goal is a key factor to success.
- They stumble and throw in the towel all together. Most resolutions require a consistent and sustained effort over a long period of time. And unless you’re a machine, there are going to be times that you veer off path. Maybe you over indulged on food or you missed a workout or two. Don’t let that be the end of your resolution. Acknowledge your stumble and the consequences of it and keep moving forward. Stay focused on your end goal and don’t let a few slip ups put you in that 92% of people who fail.