Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work…

And How To Make Them Stick This Time!

It’s that time again… taking down the tree, planning the NYE party, and ramping up to make a bunch of (the same old) New Year’s resolutions that get forgotten by February.  Sound familiar?
Despite best intentions and a burst of enthusiasm on January 1st, about 8% of people keep their New Years Resolutions, and 58% have bailed by February (researchers say).  Why? Where does all that momentum and commitment go?  And how do we use this time to make lasting changes for the better in our lives?  Hmmm, great question.
Here’s the deal. It’s a set-up, plain and simple. Here are the main reasons we fall off the wagon and slink back to our old, comfortable ways…
  • We set overly large or unrealistic goals that don’t align with our internal beliefs about ourselves.
For example, you set a goal of losing 50 pounds, however you’ve made that same resolution every year and failed. So there’s a part of you that doesn’t actually believe it’s possible for you. And you will sabotage yourself pretty quickly to prove that part right. Psychology professor Peter Herman has called this the “false hope syndrome”, and it can actually do MORE damage to our self esteem than not setting the goal at all.
  • We’re not really ready to change.
  • Resolutions are too vague.
  • We don’t create the structure and accountability to support the new behavior becoming a habit.
  • Creating new habits takes time and we bail in frustration when we’re not seeing results.
So what can be done?? Should we just say screw it and not even bother to make positive changes? Noooo. Not at all.
The start of a new year is a great time to take stock, review your accomplishments, learnings and growth. And to set meaningful goals and intentions going forward. It can provide momentum and incentive for new resolve.  BUT… you need to set yourself up for success. 

Best tips for setting intentions and goals you’ll achieve:

1. Start with a review of your past year
List out your accomplishments, successes, learnings, mistakes and challenges. Complete your year with intentionality – and let go of any mental residue from past disappointments, that may pop up to obstruct you as you move onto the New Year.
2. Rather than starting with goals, clarify how you want to FEEL this coming year and work backwards to what actions will give you more of that feeling. 
More health and vitality?  More financially secure? More calm? What practices or consistent actions would help you cultivate that feeling?
3. Rather than a list of resolutions, pick one KEY goal or practice that will give you the feeling or result you’re wanting in your life.
For example, the key practice could be:  meditate at least 5 minutes a day. Or go to three yoga classes a week. Once you’ve done this for a month or 40 days, it will have become reinforced as a positive habit (and changed your neural pathways!).  You can then build upon that… eg increase to 20 minutes a day, etc, once you’ve already established a habit of a daily practice… See how that works?
4.  Start small and increase once you’ve had some success!
In the example above, starting with a 5 minute meditation practice is much more likely to stick than diving straight into 20 minutes per day from nothing. You can then add more time later, once you’ve established the routine and a positive association with the new habit.
5.  Make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time bound).
6.  Create an accountability system
Find an accountability buddy, enlist a friend to go the gym with you, hire a coach, join a class or series. This makes the difference between success and giving up when the going gets tough (or staying in bed is that much more appealing than hitting the gym…).
7.  Find support to identify and release the unconscious blocks or thought patterns that keep you from creating new behaviors.  
8.  Failure is just information!
If you fall off, reset, recommit, and get back on that horse.
9.  Celebrate your successes and progress along the way…
I invite you to treat the New Year as an opportunity for a reset, rather than resolutions. If you fall off the wagon, get right back on. It’s a practice not a destination. To help you along with this, download your Thrive in 2018 E-Book as a special Holiday Gift.
Happy New Year my friends.  May you thrive!
  • Are you tired of feeling stuck? 
  • Are your limiting beliefs stopping you from achieving your goals? 
  • Are you ready to stop playing small this year?
If so, contact me for a private session (special January deals happening now!).  

Photo Credit:  GlitterAndFrills