Why do we fail New Year’s resolutions?

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

As year-end approaches, we tend to sum up and evaluate our past year and plan ahead for the next one. This is a very healthy habit, facilitating a conscious life where we are in the driving seat of our life knowing where we are heading to. It is beneficial looking back time to time as it helps us to understand how much we had achieved, how much we lived and experienced. It is time to be proud of ourselves and appreciate what we have accomplished and learned during the year. Even if it was a bad year, there are always lot of achievements and changes that we lived through and it worths to make a mental note about it and appreciate our performance. Self-love and confidence starts with understanding that actually we had done the best we could and it is time to feel proud of ourselves.

However, there is always room for improvement, new skills to learn and new objectives to achieve. So when we are done with evaluating the past year, we look out for the next year and that is the time for New Year’s resolutions. We make decisions that truly are beneficial for us, like giving up smoking, living a healthier lifestyle, change jobs, lose weight or be more patient with the kids. Still, the majority of these great intentions vanish by end of January. Why is that and how can we keep working on our goals?

The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they are quite vague. Defining an objective as for example ‘I want to be healthier’ is a great first step but you need to put much more effort into it.

Typically life changes happen relatively easily in two cases and it is very simple, like a mathematical equation.

  1. The desire for the change is bigger than the effort it requires. This means that you are really motivated, positive and dedicated to make a change and whatever happens, nothing can stop you in that. You are ready to pay whatever it requires because you want so much your dream to come true.

  2. The despair for the change is bigger than the effort it requires. This means that your current situation is so terrible right now that you just can’t keep doing as you do currently, you have a deep, inner drive to improve something in your life. Again, you are ready to pay symbolically whatever it takes to get your objective in this case.

So does it mean that changes can happen only in these two cases? Of course not, but whenever you are okayish with your situation, you most probably would need some extra support to make the change really happen. So here are some life coaching tips how can you make your motivation last and obtain your objective.

Be SMART about your objective. As coming from the corporate world, I was working towards SMART objectives my whole adult life and I was surprised how the same concept is used in coaching. So what is a SMART objective?

  • Specific – Let’s go with the mentioned example to be healthier. As a first step, we need to think it over, what does it mean for me to be healthier? What is it exactly? Losing weight? Exercise? Sleep more? Or all these? If it is exercising, what exercise do I mean by that? If I mean running, how often would I do that and what time of the day and which days of the week? Would I have running buddies or I want to run alone?

  • Measurable – So I want to run more, okay, but again, how can I measure if I met my goal? For example, let’s define that I will be happy with my progress if I run three times a week at least 40 minutes or 6 kms.

  • Achievable – this is an important checkpoint, is my goal achievable? For example if I have a goal to run the marathon, do I have the resources and time to train for that? A good objective balances exactly on the border-line of being challenging but not too hard or too easy.

  • Realistic – is my goal realistic, so do I believe that I can achieve it? If I run typically 10 K and I decide to run the marathon, is it realistic to prepare in two months’ time without injuries? Most probably not, so what is the timeframe I need to safely prepare?

  • Timely – what is the deadline by when I want to achieve my goal? If it is a new habit to be established, connect it closely with the measurement and set up a frequency for the activity, for example if it is a daily meditation to establish or running three times a week.

When you are done with the SMART part, there are still some important questions to ask yourself.

How will be my life if I reach my objective? This is the time when you should sit down, lay back, close your eyes and just imagine all the positive changes it will bring into your life and don’t be shy, visualize it as much as you just can. Talk to yourself in present mode instead of conditional or future mode to make the results more tangible for your subconscious and you will see, it will work hard to make your dream come true. For example, I run three times a week and it is already a habit in my life. I am way fitter than ever in my life, I have no difficulties to run after my kids in the park. I sleep better due to the regular sport and even my skin is more beautiful and stretched. I lose weight and I can see that my belly fat has started to disappear. I can wear my old skirts again. My husband also notices it how great I look. I feel really good in my body, I feel healthy and fit. I am mentally more relaxed, I lose my patience less frequently and I just feel better generally. I am overall proud of myself!

The next question to ask is the price. As we know, magic always comes with a price, there is no change that won’t require some kind of sacrifice and the more consciously you handle this, the more success you will have. What you need to think over is the following: what impact will it have on the life of my loved ones, will they be okay with it? If not, what can I do to get their support? About my own life, what sacrifices do I need to make? For example, imagine that you have breakfast every day with your family and now you decided to go out running three times a week before work, meaning that you need to wake up earlier and you won’t have the time to have breakfast with your family. Or you plan to go to run in the afternoon so it means that your partner needs to pick up the kids those days. Is s/he okay with that? Are you deep inside also okay with that? This is a part that we tend to skip to pay enough attention but we need to think it over very thoroughly if we don’t want to fail because some inner and not understood motive sabotages us.

And the last one to ask yourself is about the difficulties: what are the obstacles I might come across? It is good to prepare yourself to those and consciously find a solution. For example, you actually wake up easily every day when you planned running, but what if it turns cold or rainy or hot? What if you slept terribly that night? Is it acceptable for you to skip sometimes the activity? If yes, will you reschedule it to another day?

If you have done all these steps when defining your objective, you will have a very high success rate which will make you more proud of yourself over time. And I have one more extra tip: use an anchor which symbolises your goal and put it on your table or fridge to remind you your objective and create a vision board to imagine the desired results easily every day. These things speak on the language of the unconscious mind and at the end it is the conscious, logical part that defines an objective but it is the subconscious that will support you working towards your goal.

Well, this is how a New Year’s resolution is done!

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