Why New Years Resolutions Fail

It’s quite simple – just like it takes less effort to be unhappy than happy, the same is true for accomplishing our goals. It’s much easier to fail and come up with excuses for our failures than it is to fail, reflect, and make changes. Many of us know someone who has made the commitment in the past (probably around New Years) to ‘lose 30 pounds’ or ‘learn a new language’. How many of these people are successful? To borrow a joke from a very funny comedian, “I was 100% set on getting a gym membership and staying committed. I woke up early, got dressed, got in my car and drove to the gym. I walked in confidently, ready to work out. I saw the office was on the second floor, and said to myself, ‘Ah, screw it,’ and turned around to go back home.” Funny because it’s true – for many of us.

However, there are a few things that can be done to almost guarantee our success in whatever goals we may set. First of all, we need to clearly outline what we want by setting a SMART goal:

Specific – A clear and specific goal is set
Measurable – Progress towards the goal can be measured
Achievable – The goal is realistic
Relevant – Achieving this goal matters
Time-bound – A schedule has been set for when the goal should be completed by

It’s very important that we identify these factors for our goals in order to increase our chances of staying committed and being successful. How do we know when to lose 30 pounds by? Does this actually matter to us? How will we know if we are progressing?

Secondly, if we are really committed to success, we should share our goals with a trusted friend (preferably someone who we are in contact with regularly, if not every day). By having a friend check in with us, we become accountable. They can help us stay on track, or give suggestions to improve our odds of success.

The last thing we need to do in order to improve our odds is the most important, and ties in with the ‘achievable’ aspect of a SMART goal. As we previously mentioned, it takes more effort to achieve our goals. To negate this effect, we should start out by setting very easy goals for ourselves. This way, the effort is minimal and the likelihood of adhering to what we’ve set out to do increases. Furthermore, when we accomplish these ‘easy’ goals, we’ll feel more motivated to continue. Instead of saying we want to ‘lose 30 pounds’, maybe we should start with something super simple like doing 5 minutes of exercise when we wake up.

If we are really committed to making a change, whether it’s New Years or not, we should try these small steps and see what a big difference they can make. Set a SMART goal, have a friend regularly check in with our progress, and set tiny, easy goals in order to build confidence and success.

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