If you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution, there’s a high likelihood you didn’t achieve your goal or create lasting new habits. You wouldn’t be in the minority, either. Keeping resolutions is hard, but why do they fail so often?
Let’s explore the psychology of why New Year’s resolutions are so hard to keep. And, we’ll offer some suggestions and frameworks setting attainable goals and more likely to last throughout the year.
By some estimates, only 12 percent of resolution-setters will follow through. The odds are stacked against us for a number of reasons, according to Psychology Today:
If you want to keep your resolutions, you have to get strategic about how you set them in the first place. Remember the S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) acronym when thinking about what you want to achieve over the next year. You should define exactly what you want to accomplish and create a detailed plan for how and when you’ll get there.
If you’re not sure how S.M.A.R.T. goal setting works, read through these two general examples.
“Lose weight” is vague. Try, “I will lose 5 pounds by March 1st.”
With that resolution in mind, the next step is to map out how you’ll get there. Losing 5 pounds will look different for everyone. What do you need to do to meet that goal? You might turn your daily latte routine into a cup of standard coffee, paired with a 30 minute high intensity workout, three times per week.
“Eat better” is another very non-specific goal. Instead, make a resolution like, “I will make work lunches at home three days per week instead of eating out.”
Then, make a list of ideas for healthy lunches to bring to work those three days each week, including the ingredients you’ll need. You’ll be prepared and less likely to revert back to your take out ways.