December 26, 2018 | 8 min read
Another Year Another Chance to Screw Up Your New Year's Resolution
If New Year's resolutions worked, tobacco corporations would be out of business because everyone would have quit smoking. McDonald's would lose the vast majority of its customers. People would cancel their Netflix subscriptions in order to read at least 52 books per year, and there would be no vacant treadmill in your gym. Never again.
Fortunately for Netflix, Phillip Morris, and McDonald's, more than 90% of New Year's resolutions fail. Shockingly, 80% of them fail as early as by the second week of February.
Despite the depressing statistics, the tradition of writing New Year's resolutions does not seem to be disappearing any time soon. Every year, millions of inspired dreamers sit down to write (or think) a list of beautiful things they will undoubtedly accomplish next year. The bravest of them even go as far as to publish their big plans online, so the whole world could see how healthy, rich, or talented they're about to become.
It’s all easier said than done. Easier written than accomplished.
The Ugly Truth about New Year's Resolutions
I'll be brief and to the point: they don't work.
How to Stick to New Year's Resolutions
If you want to join the camp of those rare superhumans who not only write resolutions but also stick to them, you need to figure out why most New Year's resolutions fail.
Luckily for you, we've already researched the topic and composed a list of most popular reasons why New Year's resolutions don't work:
1. You set unrealistic goals.
One of the reasons why people fail on resolutions so quickly and so often is that they want it all and right away. We want a perfect body tomorrow instead of wanting to lose 10 pounds this year. We want $1,000,000 on our bank account instead of a job with a 3x higher salary. We want to find that perfect partner and marry them the following day instead of wanting to meet new interesting people.
Set goals you can achieve. It's better to slightly underestimate yourself at the point of writing goals and mark them done at the end of the year than write super-ambitious goals only to realize you overestimated yourself.
2. You forget to break big goals down to smaller ones.
Ambitious goals can be rather overwhelming. That's why when you decide to achieve something huge, you should always break your big goal down into smaller sub-goals (or action steps). Not only does it make goals look easier-to-achieve, but it also provides you with a step-by-step guide on what you should do to succeed.
3. You remember that you failed last year.
If it's not your first New Year's resolution and all the previous ones failed, it's likely that your self-esteem needs a boost. Memories of past failures feed the fear of future failures. And, of course, it doesn’t help at all.
While you can't change the past, you can learn from it. If your previous New Year's resolutions failed, take some time to analyze why it happened. Once you see the root cause of your problem (goals were unrealistic, you lacked discipline, or the goals you set were not what you really wanted), you'll understand what to do differently in the coming year.
4. You don't track your progress.
When it comes to achieving goals, tracking progress is a must. That's because tracking progress means seeing progress. And when you see this progress, no matter how small it is, your self-esteem goes up and feel inspired to move forward. Pay attention to small victories, rewarding yourself for them, and it will help you stay passionate about your goals long-term (and not just for a few weeks after writing them down).
5. You didn't figure out your “why.”
Consider your personal "why" as a fuel that will keep you pushing for your goal no matter what. Before writing any of your goals down, ask yourself why you want this in the first place. If you don't know why you need to work out 3 times per week, it will be a lot harder to show up at the gym. If you don't know why you want to read more books, it's not likely you will start reading a lot. Think about your “WHYs” as they are the only proof that the goals you set are actually yours (and not something influenced by social media, family, or those successfully successful friends).
New Year's Resolution Done Right
Let me be brief and straight to point once again: there is no such thing as a good or bad New Year's resolution. There are only those that worked and those that didn't.
Nonetheless, there are still a few best practices you can rely on to increase your chances for success:
Don't write a long list of things you want to achieve. Focus on a few really important goals instead. Three to five goals are more than enough.
For each of a few goals, write a list of sub goals or action steps. That's how you will know where to start and in what direction to move.
Set notifications that will remind you to review your resolution every few weeks and check on progress.
Reward yourself for every sub-goal achieved. This will help you stay motivated on a neurochemical level.
Remember why you started.
Congratulations! Now you know everything you need to join those 9 percent% of people who stick to their New Year's resolutions. Use this knowledge wisely and, who knows, maybe next year the statistics of successful resolutions will look at least a little more promising.
P.S. Watch out, Netflix and MacDonald's! Now people know how to keep their New Year's resolutions, so get ready to lose your customers.