Why Now is the Time to Revisit Your New Year’s Resolutions
It seems like yesterday we were ringing in the new year, and now already we’re a month in. While it feels like time can fly and the “newness” we feel as time passes from one year to the next fades quickly, many people find those early weeks to be a marathon for their new year’s resolutions. By this time in the year, it is estimated only 64% of Americans have still kept their resolutions (forbes.com). That can seem like a discouraging statistic – about 1 out of 3 of us will have already thrown in the towel. However, just because you stumble early on doesn’t mean 2018 is a wash. Rather, it means you just need to find your footing. Here are four reasons why so many Americans don’t succeed at their new year’s resolutions and what you can do to keep yours or to get back on track.
- We make too many. Self-improvement is a jog, not a sprint. While there’s no quota on goals we can have for ourselves, too many at the same time boggles our mind with too many new obligations and can overwhelm to the point we don’t know what we want to do anymore.
What you can do: Pace yourself. You don’t need to think of a new family recipe while on your daily jog to the animal shelter you volunteered at – pick the one most important to you and work hard at settling into a groove on that. Once you’ve done that, it’s much easier to add something else that’s new to work on.
- We’re too vague. “I want to get healthier.” “I want to help my community.” “I want to try new things.” A lot of our resolutions are filled with good intentions and often, just having an idea of what we want to do initially is better than not thinking of anything. However, when we stick to generalities, it doesn’t give us a clear path to making goals fit in our lives.
What you can do: Once you have an idea of what area of your life you want to focus on, be specific on what changes you’ll undertake to accomplish your goal. “I want to go to the gym once a week and eat about half the snack foods I do now.” See what a world of difference that description makes? When you’re more specific, it helps paint a picture so that you can actually see yourself taking steps to achieve your goal.
- We’re too ambitious. This one might sound counterintuitive. After all, ambition is a huge reason we take on resolutions; because we want to be more than what we are. However, ambition is like nearly anything else – too much of it can devalue it. Saying you’ll go to the gym every day so you can lose fifty pounds in two months is a clearly marked goal that avoids being vague. However, it leaves no room for error and requires so much of your time it’s a scenario where the odds actually are against you in succeeding.
What you can do: Be more realistic. “Small” goals are not a bad thing and do not diminish your success at accomplishing them. There’s also never a deadline on when you can stop striving for a goal, so use the whole year if you need to, or make a plan that might take multiple years. If it takes a whole year to lose fifty pounds by going to the gym three days a week, that’s still fifty pounds lost. Whatever you’re doing, remember that small changes are still changes and that more importantly, they’re the ones that often get done and lead to bigger things.
- We procrastinate. We’re often told that simply writing down our goals is motivating and promotes following through. However, it’s not the whole deal – we still have to actually do them, not just want to do them. Often, that’s where we fail and what each of the three previous reasons have in common, a failure to initiate.
What you can do: There’s no time like the present. After writing out what you’re doing for your goal, start as soon as possible or pick a date within the next few days to start. Committing to a deadline to begin helps us know when to buckle down and accomplish what we want. The first day may seem daunting and often, it is, especially when it involves a life style change we’re not used to. So don’t resolve to do better “next year” if you didn’t have any resolutions this year or already had issues keeping it – a new year might be a holiday event, but a new day and week are always around the corner.