‘Tis the season to begin thinking about your ‘2018 New Years Resolutions’ and perhaps how this year is going to be different!
This is the year you are going to stick to your resolutions! Right?
Well, I hope you do, but if you are one of the many who struggle to keep the momentum going at the start of each year, and ultimately see your resolutions fade away, then now is the time to do things differently!
Before writing this post I read through a few articles about why resolutions fail. One statistic really underscored the struggle around maintaining the elusive New Years Resolutions:
According to a 2017 Business Insider article, a whopping 80% of people give up on their resolutions by the second week in February. That’s not to say even more give up as the early months of the year march on.
This stat isn’t meant to punch your motivation in the gut, but rather to underscore the importance of taking a new approach to improving yourself in 2018.
One that will increase your chances of success with reaching your goals and transforming your life and future.
In fact, why wait until 2018?! Let’s commit to becoming our very best right now!
So why do resolutions fail?
Well, plenty of ways – more than we have time to cover here. That said, let’s look at some of the more common causes that may have derailed us over the years.
We try to change too much (or everything) at once
The promise of a New Year can give us an overly ambitious level of optimism which may entice us to try and change everything we don’t like about ourselves over night. While being ambitious and optimistic are great, making significant and lasting change is the product of consistent and methodical work to install new or change old habits. Identify a small number of improvement areas that would create the biggest benefit in your life.
We set unrealistic goals
Even if we don’t try to change our entire world like the reason above, if we aren’t smart about the resolutions we make for ourselves then we are just as likely to fail.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and they underestimate what they can do in two or three decades.” – Tony Robbins
While making your resolutions for the next year, take a good long look at your life as a whole and be honest with yourself about what you can or can’t commit to. For instance, don’t set a goal to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company by the end of the year if you are in the middle of your first job hunt out of school. Understand your current state and begin to grow from there.
We set unrealistic expectations
Even if we set a measurable goal, such as to lose 25 pounds, we have to remember that weight loss like this doesn’t just happen in a week or month. If we are making meaningful resolutions, then they should be hard, and we should be honest with ourselves about the hard work and time it will take to reach the finish line.
We are unclear on what we want to accomplish
As noble as it may be to resolve to be ‘healthier’, does anyone know what that really means? Or maybe ‘get our finances in order’… Again, great concept, but what does success look like? If we are going to do big things this year then we need to create specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound goals (or resolutions). If we don’t, then even if we stick with a poorly formed resolution for the year, we probably still won’t feel like we accomplished much. Be SMART.
We don’t fully understand all the small changes that need to happen for your big change to become a reality
Even if we do come up with a SMART resolution or goal to tackle this year, we need to be clear about all the areas of our lives that either will be affected, or need to be tweaked to ensure success. Getting back to the weight loss example, while it’s great to say you will lose 20 pounds in 3 months by working out 2-3 times per week, you also have to take into account other facets of your life. For example, if your diet is filled with fast food, sodas and candy, then all the good things you mentioned to achieve your goal are at a huge risk. In this scenario, you have to realize that you cannot out work a bad diet. Understand what you need to commit to in other areas of your life to make your resolution a success.
Set up 2018 to be your best year yet!
So now that we have some good ideas why we might have fallen short in the past, let’s do what we can to bullet proof our 2018 goals and resolutions! As you set your goal for 2018, use this list to ensure you are on the right path!
- Understand why you are making a resolution – be clear on your why! Are you trying to quit smoking because someone said it’s a good idea or because you are legitimately worried about your health / had a friend or loved one who was diagnosed with lung cancer? Tie your resolution to a deep ‘why‘ that makes your heart beat just a little faster when you think about it.
- Set 1-2 goals and then identify small incremental steps towards achieving them – set yourself up for success and take on 1 to 2 SMART goals that will challenge you. Once you have them clearly defined, create an action plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be. Bite sized chunks are necessary when trying to eat an elephant! (metaphorically of course…)
- Ease into your change – There aren’t many things more effective than slow and steady progress. Have a goal to complete a marathon in 6 months? Great! Just don’t try to run 26.2 miles on January 1st (especially if you are hungover…). Find or make a plan that lets you slowly ramp up from whatever level you are starting from in the time allotted.
- Less thinking more action – Speaking of plans, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. An 80% workout/ nutrition / financial management / time management / etc. plan that you DO is 1 million times better than the perfect plan you never start. Take Action!
- Be specific – We covered this one above, but it is worth mentioning again… get specific on what you want to accomplish. Don’t just set out to be healthy. Define in a measurable way what healthy means to you and set a plan to achieve it (lower weight / cholesterol / blood pressure, etc. or building up your overall fitness and endurance levels to complete a specific race or event at a specific time). In this case, the devil isn’t in the details – success is!
- Track your progress – Since we are all going to create measurable goals this year (right?), make sure that you track your progress! Not only will tracking your progress give you a checkpoint to see if your plan is working, it will also motivate you!
- Build in little rewards along the way – As mentioned above, meaningful change takes hard work. To help keep momentum and excitement at a high level, reward yourself along the way. If you are 20% of the way towards your weight loss goal, then reward yourself with a massage to keep your body primed to work towards the remaining 80% or buy yourself some new workout clothes since the old ones will be too loose!
- Find an accountability buddy – Not too many people can say they achieved some level of greatness entirely on their own. We all need people that can build us up and hold is accountable while we push ourselves to become more. Find a trusted family member, friend, colleague, etc. who will help pick you up and cheer you on when the journey towards your resolution beats you down.
- Make it fun and look at this big challenge through a positive and optimistic lens – Never forget that working towards a better version of yourself should be fun! Whatever actions you identify to help you get from your current state to your post-resolution vision should be enjoyable. If your goal is fitness related but you hate running, then don’t build your action plan around running. You like to Rollerblade? Great! Lace up, get after it and have fun!
- Start working towards your goal today – Yes, you heard me! Right now… don’t wait for January 1st! Start TODAY!
Post Game Huddle
Despite the symbolism and promise of the new year, let’s commit to each other right now that we won’t waste another day when it comes to starting to improve ourselves.
Commit to being your best self – not because a ball is dropping in a couple of weeks or because your calendar just changed to January 1st and everyone else is doing it. Commit, because there is a burning desire deep in your gut to BE MORE and BE BETTER.
Discussion Question: What New Years Resolutions are you planning to take on for 2018? What do you think will be the biggest hurdle?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."