Of the hundreds of millions or even billions of people who will make lofty New Year’s resolutions this year, only approximately 12 percent will still be pursuing their goals come February 1. Why is that? Are we just a society of quitters? Do we lack perseverance and mental toughness? Or are we setting ourselves up for failure because we are not starting off with the prepared stamina we need to run the race toward our goals?
My friends, let’s first get one thing out of the way: from here on out, let’s commit to no longer feeding into the resolution frenzy of starting goals on January 1. It’s unoriginal, it’s statistically consistent with failure, and let’s face it, it’s time to do something different. Now for the facts.
Why New Year’s goals get tossed out as quickly as your family’s dying Christmas tree
How many of you have made New Year’s resolutions that didn’t last? I know I have. Over the years I have made all kinds of start-of-the-year goals ranging from going on a cross-country road trip and reading more, to running a marathon and planting a garden. Some of these resolutions have come to fruition and some have not (yet). If I had written down every New Year’s goal I have made in my adult life, I would predict that most of them were not still active goals come a month or so later. So, this begs the question: why do New Year’s resolutions so often fail? Here are 5 reasons why:
1. There’s way too much hype (and pressure) around New Year’s
Everyone and their mother makes goals around the first of the year. It’s the time people think of as a clean slate, a fresh start. Even a “do over.” But so often, when we fail at our New Year’s resolutions, we get stuck in the cycle of never achieving that goal, once again unable to “stick with” that beginning-of-the-year goal that we set. It’s a cycle of goal-setting and failure that can wreak havoc on our confidence. And when you join in with the majority of the rest of the world who have also set and set aside their New Year’s goals, you are commiserating with those who are stuck in that same rut. Again, not helpful when you are committed to changing the trajectory of your life for the better.
As a quick aside, for those with weight loss and nutrition goals, starting those resolutions immediately following endless holiday parties, drinking, carbs, and See’s chocolate are a sure way to put your body into absolute sugar shock. Another reason why starting those goals a little after New Year’s (or heck, even February!) are a much better—and more achievable—time to start. But you can begin working toward the start of those goals come January.
2. They were not measurable to begin with
Let me hop on my soapbox for a moment: If you don’t know where you started, how will you ever gauge your movement? Think of your goals as a road map (yes, back in my day we actually used paper maps to figure out directions, and yes, I still have a few in my car just in case I want a little history lesson in map reading). If you don’t have a starting point and a course of direction (or action) to get you from point A to point B, then you are doomed to get lost and/or not make it to your destination at all. Although some would say that “the joy is in the journey,” and to a certain extent, that’s true. But we must, and I emphasize MUST, have a plan of action to make our goals a reality.
3. There wasn’t enough skin in the game
Let’s go a little Brene Brown here: If we want to achieve our goals, we need to be vulnerable to our support system about what those goals are. When I have set goals, I (who am still very afraid of the V word) at least tell my husband, my mom, and usually at least one or two of my closest friends what my goal is. That way, they can support me in it. They can be my cheerleader when I need a little pick-me-up. They can help me stay accountable and can celebrate all of my small or enormous victories with me. So shout your goals on the rooftops and get some accountability skin in the game.
4. There are ultra marathon race goals with the 50-yard dash expectations
Let’s be honest: We live in an instant-gratification society. Although that works wonders for our Amazon orders, it does not fare well in our long-term goals. Lofty goals take time. Even smaller goals take time. It takes time to figure out a game plan (remember the road map?). It takes preparation to set ourselves up for success and it takes weeks—if not longer—to form new habits. Research says it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit, but that’s just the beginning. That’s when we finally get over the hump of how hard our new habit is. It’s when cravings to return to our old ways have finally subsided. And it’s when our newly formed habit becomes a part of our life. That’s just the beginning of getting one step closer to attaining our goals.
5. Your mindset needs a reality check
Oftentimes, we make goals because we are so sick and tired of being sick and tired. We want new, we want different, we want change. But if we go into the goal achieving process like the dog who gets their nose rubbed in their mess when they have an accident, we may have a hard time climbing that mountain of goal achievement. Why? Because if we go into goal achievement with the notion that falling short of perfection equals failure, then we have indeed already failed. Achieving our goals will inevitably have some bumps in the road. It will come with a few (or many) setbacks, and there may be days when you feel like you are going backwards instead of forward. And friends, that is not only okay, it is necessary. We need to have the mindset that our journey toward our goals will not be perfect, it may be messy, and it most likely will have some detours, but if we are disciplined, and if we practice immense grace on ourselves, we can achieve greatness.
So if you have goals that you have been wanting to achieve, set yourself up for success today:
- Start by establishing a step-by-step game plan.
- Next, make your goal measurable so that you can gauge your starting point, your mid-point and finish line.
- Tell your family, friends, and Facebook groups about your goal so that you establish accountability and a proper cheerleading squad.
- Make sure you are going into your goal with a lot of self-love, a good amount of grace, and a knowledge that perfection is not only impossible; it’s a dead end.
- And for the love of all things holy, commit to starting your goal on ANY other day than New Year’s.