Anyone who has ever set a New Year's resolution knows how hard it is to keep. It's difficult to get changes to stick when you establish good intentions.
People fall into the same traps year after year. They say that they're going to do something different in the coming year if they decide to lose weight, pay off debt, or get organized. Despite their efforts, most of them feel discouraged by their lack of will within the first few days of the new year. They abandon their goals quickly.
It's a common problem to keep a New Year's resolution. 23% of people quit their resolution after just one week, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton. In the case of the study, only 19% of individuals are able to stick to their goals for two years.
Most New Year's resolutions don't stick.
1. Not ready to change.
The end of the year activities and New Year's Eve parties often bring with them pressure to change their lives. Many people set resolutions based on what they think should be done, rather than what they actually want to do.
It won't help you get in shape if you want to hit the gym more often when your heart isn't in it. A half-hearted attempt is likely to backfire. After a few days at the gym, you might decide you're not an athlete and quit working out for good.
If your habit changes are going to stick, you have to be prepared. Some people will be ready for change on January 1st, but most people won't be.
2. There is no self-monitoring.
Creating lasting change can be achieved by monitoring your progress. How do you know if you're on target? It is possible to keep motivated by simply assessing your improvements on a regular basis.
A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that fitness apps can motivate people to get more exercise. Tracking activity levels can help people exercise. When you're monitoring your progress, you might be tempted to make excuses.
Whether you use an app that tracks your spending or how long your runs are, there are many ways you can monitor the steps you're taking.
3. There is no planning.
A little planning can help make good habits stick. You have to answer questions like, "How will I make ends meet when my friends invite me out for dinner several nights per week?" or "How will I make ends meet when I go to the gym?" Figuring out solutions is key to long-term success.
When you're working on a resolution, there are bound to be mistakes. The University of Scranton found that people who stick to their long-term resolutions tend to slip up at least 14 times. The majority of individuals said their mistakes strengthened their desire to reach their goals.
You can figure out how you'll recover from those mistakes by planning ahead. That is an important part of preventing a mistake from turning into a failure.
Overconfidence can be even more harmful than lack of confidence because it can make it harder for people to reach their goals.
You will find yourself unprepared and ill-equipped to face the reality of the situation if you think your goal is going to be easy.
It is hard to change. When you're tired, push yourself and acknowledge that it's difficult to delay gratification. It doesn't mean you're weak if you say it's going to be difficult to stay on track. It means you're realistic.
You will be more prepared to meet your goal if you know that you have weaknesses and that you will struggle.
5. Not thinking about what has to be given up.
You have to give up something when you add to your life. We forget to look at the things we're leaving behind when we focus on what we're gaining.
Going to the gym three nights a week can mean less time with your family and less time to watch your favorite show. Make sure you're ready to make the trade-off before you sign up for that membership.
Less impulse purchases and fewer meals out with friends are consequences of sticking to your budget. How are you going to deal with the uncomfortable feelings when you have to say no to things you really want to do?
Before you change your habits, make sure you know what you will get from the new ones. Before you make a change, think about what you need to give up. It is worth the price you are going to pay if you acknowledge this ahead of time and develop a plan to deal with the change.
How to end your resolution.
It doesn't mean that your resolution can't last. You can make your resolution stick this year if you are prepared for the challenge and willing to put in the hard work to make it happen.
The article was published in December of 2019.