Crowds gather across the country to watch the ball in Times Square drop and ring in the New Year. Everyone eagerly counts down the final moments of the outgoing year: Ten…nine…eight and so on. During those final seconds, partygoers make their resolutions for the coming year.
Let’s Be Real
According to Psychology Today, fifty percent of people make New Year’s resolutions… and one half of them abandon their resolutions by the end of January. Typical New Year’s resolutions focus on:
- Weight loss, smoking cessation or the achievement of sobriety.
- Going back to school or getting a better job.
- Earning more money and moving up in the world.
- Reigning in personal finances to become debt-free.
- Falling in love with the right person or leaving a destructive relationship.
- Improving interpersonal relationships with friends and family members.
The Reasons Why Resolutions Fail
Why do we forget about these worthy resolutions, not even 30 days after they were made? These lofty goals are usually forgotten because we have no real plan in place to achieve them. Also, these aspirations are usually “all or nothing” propositions, which mean they’re overwhelming in scope and intimidating to begin.
We make grand resolutions attempting to reinvent ourselves, but often suffer greater psychological setbacks when we fail to meet our goals. New Year’s resolutions are not a magic bullet or a cure-all, but should be an attempt to make small alterations leading to long-term behavioral changes.
The Path Forward
The way to create lasting change and achieve goals is by forging new neural pathways and thinking new thoughts to create new memories. The new thought patterns become the “new default,” creating new behavioral alternatives when confronted with challenging situations and difficult choices.
Here is a list of tips to help avoid failure when trying to achieve New Year’s resolutions:
- Make one resolution not five. Avoid being overwhelmed by good intentions.
- Use SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time sensitive.
- Be accountable to someone. Ask a friend to keep you honest.
- Have short-term goals that will build up to larger success.
- Celebrate incremental successes to stay motivated.
- Focus on new behaviors and thoughts.
- Forgive slip-ups to regain composure and control.
- Incorporate new behaviors into your daily routine.
- List goals and steps to achieve each goal, and review that list on a daily basis.
- Create new resolutions or define new ways to achieve old goals.
New Year’s resolutions do not have to be a source of disappointment each year. They can be a truly life changing pursuit if carried out in a regimented manner. Staying healthy, earning more money, spending less and creating harmonious relationships are probably goals most people could benefit from. How prepared are you to succeed in the New Year?
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