Why do New Year's resolutions never work?
6 min read
6 min read
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Happy New Year!
The new year is a time of resolutions, ambitious plans, and goal-setting. But unfortunately, more often than not, these resolutions are left behind come February.
Why is that?
That’s exactly what I want to talk about today. Why can’t we seem to make resolutions stick and what can help you actually achieve your goals 2022!
Why don’t New Year’s resolutions work?
Now, of course, there are thousands of reasons why people repeat the same resolutions year after year without ever actually achieving them.
But what if I told you there are 3 main reasons that might be hindering your success?
That’s right, it essentially boils down to 3 things:
Number 1: You try to do too much at once
Number 2: You don’t think about how to achieve that goal
Number 3: Your motivation to achieve your goal is external
Let’s take a closer look at all of these.
Doing too much at once
Yeah, I know, January first is the perfect day to do it all.
You get up at 5am, meditate, read, work out, drink a gallon of water, make a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, don’t smoke, don’t drink, and maybe even throw in a yoga session before bed.
It feels great and you feel confident, ready to repeat this amazing lifestyle every day from here on out.
Until… the alarm clock rings the next day and the mere thought of having to do all these things overwhelms you.
You press snooze, wake up at 10am, and think to yourself “ugh, this day is already wasted, might as well not do anything else.”
Does that sound familiar by any chance?
Of course, I’m exaggerating quite a bit, but believe it or not, most people take on WAY too much at once when it comes to their resolutions.
That doesn’t even mean they necessarily have to do 20 different new habits at once, but they might tell themselves after not having set foot in a gym in 10 years that they will hit the weights every day from now on.
The problem with this kind of behavior is that you immediately burn yourself out.
Lasting change takes time and patience, and although I know, it can be tempting to use all that New Year’s motivation, maybe start small and tell yourself you will go to the gym 3 times a week.
Or you’ll walk around the block once a day.
Whatever it is, make it an easily achievable goal and build up from there.
When introducing new, healthy habits into your life, never add more than one thing at a time.
I’m serious, start by meditating for 5 minutes each morning until it feels natural before moving on to another thing.
This way, you might not have the exceptional first week of January you envisioned (followed by reverting back to your old “comfortable” life), but you will arrive in December having actually changed your life for the better.
Not having a proper plan
Most of the people you ask will probably have some sort of New Year’s resolution.
However, most of them will blank when you ask them how exactly they plan on achieving that goal.
And that’s exactly where their problem lies.
You see, it’s really easy to say “I want to eat healthier”, “I want to lose weight”, “I want to read more”, or “I want to be more active”, but neither of these things will actually come to fruition unless you have a solid plan of action.
The problem is that these resolutions aren’t tangible, they are so vague that you will try a thing here and there to achieve it, but eventually, it slips into the background and you forget about it.
What can you do about that?
It’s actually quite simple, you need to give yourself tangible steps you can take to achieve that goal.
Let’s take “I want to read more” as an example.
Set yourself a realistic, yet challenging goal such as “I will read 5 pages every day.”
Then follow it with the precise moment when you will be following through with that goal.
“I will read 5 pages every day while drinking my coffee in the morning.”
See? All of a sudden a wishy-washy resolution became a tangible goal that you can track and achieve every day!
You have the wrong source of motivation
Don’t get me wrong, any source of motivation is great.
However, a big reason people tend to fail at their New Year’s resolutions stems from their source of motivation.
We are talking about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic means the source for your motivation lies outside of yourself, intrinsic motivation comes from within.
Now: extrinsic motivation is not necessarily a bad thing. It is okay to be motivated by external factors.
But: long-term success depends on being motivated to reach your goals for the right reasons.
What are the right reasons?
Wanting to be better for yourself.
Not because you’ll be more accepted by society. Not because you will be more attractive. Not because you will be more interesting to others.
Because you want to feel better and be better. Because you know you deserve it.
When your motivation comes from within, no amount of external obstacles will bring you off track.
You’re accountable to yourself and nobody else, so you decide whether you succeed or not.
So how do you become intrinsically motivated?
- Focus on how your new habit will make you feel, not the way it will make you appear to others.
- Find a way to make your habit enjoyable. Don’t run if you despise it. Try things like dancing or biking. Don’t force yourself to read Tolstoy, start with Harry Potter!
- Focus on consistency, not results
These things will inevitably help you source your motivation from within and make you unstoppable!
The New Year is a great time to start new habits and change your life. If you want to look back on 2022 proud of actually achieving your resolutions for the first time, follow the 3 key essentials to reaching your goals.
- Don’t take too much on at once
- Break it down into tangible steps
- Source your motivation from within
Trust me, I speak from experience when I say that these things really work.
2022 can be your year, you just need to know how to go about it to set yourself up for success.