The New Year is a good time to set new resolutions. You feel fresh and having a chance to start things anew in the coming year provides motivation as you embark on new challenges. However, I know many people who have given up on setting New Year’s resolutions entirely because “it doesn’t work for them”. Inevitably, the resolutions they set are forgotten and never acted on. The result is feelings of guilt and incompetence and they conclude that they are simply not disciplined enough to follow through on their resolutions.
I have been setting New Year’s resolutions for the past 10 years. This yearly exercise has contributed much to improving my life as it gives me a sense of direction. In my opinion, accomplishing New Year’s resolutions is possible for everyone. It has nothing to do with discipline. You just need the right technique.
Based on my observations, here are some common reasons why people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. I hope you will take note of them when setting and following through on yours.
Too Many Big Resolutions – Are you too greedy with your resolutions? Some resolutions like losing weight, learning a new skill or training for a marathon can take months to achieve. If there are too many big ticket resolutions like these, you may be stretching yourself too thin over the year and having too little time/energy left to do well in any of them. My suggestion is to have only 2 to 3 big ticket resolutions and less than a dozen small resolutions in your resolution list. Spread your big-ticket resolutions across the year so that big ticket resolutions don’t happen within the same period. This is especially true if you have a day job and you are using free time to work on your resolutions.
Not Personalizing Your Resolutions – Why do you want that resolution? What does it mean to you to achieve it? How will you feel when you do achieve it? If you don’t have very clear answers to the above answers, chances are you don’t want it badly enough to sustain your efforts over the year. To achieve a goal, even in face of obstacles and challenges, you may want it badly enough for you to pay the price in time and effort to pursue it. This means you need to be crystal clear about the significance of your resolutions. Otherwise, it’s very easy to just find an excuse to wriggle yourself out of the resolution and forget about it.
Not Writing Them Down – To be crystal clear about your resolutions, it helps to write them down. If you haven’t tried this before, do it immediately after reading this article. Try to write down your resolutions, describe it in details and state why you want it. I’ll bet you my last dollar that you will not be able to write everything down in one go. Why? Simple, because desires and thoughts are always vague ideas to start from.
If you don’t write down your resolutions, they will always remain as vague ideas. Vague ideas equal to vague plans and that equal poor results. While you cannot crystallize your resolutions in one go, take some time and have a few sessions to do it. As long as you give it enough thoughts, it will get clearer with each try.
You Can’t See Your Resolutions Everyday – Even if you write down your goals and crystallized them, you can still forget about them; humans are forgetful creatures. Put your resolutions in a place where you will be able to see them frequently. In so doing, you will create a physical environment where you are less likely to forget your resolutions due to other urgencies that crop up during the year. For me, I like to keep my resolutions in MS Outlook where I will see them each day as I access my emails.
Not Reviewing Your Resolutions Periodically – Not only must you be reminded of your resolutions, you must review them periodically to check your progress. Do you know that when pilots fly their planes, they need to periodically check and adjust their flight path due to prevailing, changing air conditions? It’s the same with achieving resolutions. If you didn’t go according to your plans, why not? Did something new crop up during the year? Maybe your plan was too aggressive? Check progress and re-calibrate – this will ensure you stay on course. As long as you do this often enough (e.g. monthly), you have a good chance of staying on course.
Even if you don’t achieve 100% of your resolutions by the end of the year, you will achieve at least 70% to 80%. That’s still way better than giving up on your resolutions which equals to achieving only 0%.
Keeping Your Resolutions To Yourself – Do you know why people are afraid of making promises? It’s because they are afraid of putting themselves on the line. It’s the same with resolutions. After you have written down your resolutions, announce them to your family and friends. Put yourself on the line by making your resolutions known and make it a promise to yourself to achieve them. It’s may not be a comfortable feeling because you have just made yourself publicly accountable for your own results. You may not want to do it; but look at it this way – if you are not even willing to put yourself through this bit of discomfort for your resolutions now, how much will you be willing to put in for your resolutions later in the year?
Not Having A Support Group -Achieving your resolutions does not need to be an individual affair. From my experience, you will stand a much greater chance of success if you have family and friends who support your cause. It doesn’t help if you are trying to lose weight and your family is having fast food for dinner everyday. And it doesn’t help if you are trying to be an early riser but your family goes to bed way past midnight.
Talk to people in your life about what you are trying to achieve and see how they can give you both moral and tangible support.
With these pitfalls in mind, I hope you are in a better position to achieve your resolutions in 2016.
Happy New Year in advance and may all your wishes come true.
Akin is the author of the book "THE INTERNET: a town square for the global village.