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We’re a full week into a brand new year. Have you set New Year’s resolutions? Or maybe you’re still thinking about it.
But did you know that most people give up on their new year’s resolutions within a month? Yup, it’s true. By the end of January each year, most people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions.
In this post, we’ll look at three reasons you shouldn’t set New Year’s resolutions and what you should do instead.
Why People Set New Year’s Resolutions
Most people see the New Year as a chance to start over. It’s an opportunity to improve their lives. They want to eat better, exercise more and get out of debt. Even pursue that long-lost dream.
And that’s a good thing. Positive change is always good. Setting a New Year’s resolution is a good way to challenge yourself to grow.
If you set them in the right way.
The problem is that most people don’t. And that’s why they fail.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
According to US News, 80% of resolutions fail by February. Some even fail by mid-January. Part of the problem is that resolutions are often too vague, don’t align with our values, and we expect immediate results.
What we need to do instead is to set goals. Our goals must be specific and align with our values. We must also have a plan in place for when we don’t see immediate results and become discouraged.
So let’s look at these three reasons our New Year’s resolutions fail and how we can set goals instead.
Reason #1: You Set New Year’s Resolutions That Are Too Broad
If your new year’s resolutions are too broad, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. A resolution like losing weight or getting out of debt is not specific enough.
It shows what you want to do but doesn’t tell you how to get there or in what time frame. It doesn’t give you the day-to-day steps that you need to take to reach your target.
What to Do: Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals Instead
S.M.A.R.T. goals are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. It was first used by George Doran in 1981 and it is the most used goal setting technique.
Each element of the S.M.A.R.T. technique poses specific questions to help you determine your goal. This article on the Rescuetime.com blog defines S.M.A.R.T. goals as follows:
- Specific: You know exactly what needs to get done. There’s no ambiguity or vagueness in how and when your goal will happen.
- Measurable:You have a meaningful and motivating way to track progress and measure your results. You’ll know if you’ve hit your goal 80%, 100% or missed the mark entirely.
- Achievable:You’re not shooting for the moon (unless you think you can realistically hit it).
- Relevant:You’re working towards something that is worthwhile, timely, and deeply connected to your own skills and long-term goals. You’ll be motivated to work towards this goal.
- Time-bound: There are clear start and end dates you’re working towards. (It’s important to note that SMART goals are most useful for more short-term goals—one month to one year).
An example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal related to losing weight could look like, “Lose 20 pounds in the next 90 days.”
This goal is:
- specific – lose a certain number of pounds in a certain number of days
- measurable – 20 pounds
- attainable – the recommended weight-loss average per week is 2.2 pounds so 20 pounds in 12 weeks is doable
- relevant – you want to get healthier and losing weight is one way to achieve that
- time-bound – 90 days.
Incorporate your S.M.A.R.T goals into your daily routine. Break them down into tasks and take action on them each day.
A task related to achieving the goal about losing weight would be, “spend 30 minutes on the treadmill five days a week”.
Reason #2: Your New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Align with Your Purpose
Often our New Year’s resolutions fail because we’re not sure why we’re setting them. We set them because they sound good, out of tradition or because everyone else is doing it. When we do this, our resolutions aren’t lining up with our values. We should base them on who we are or who we want to be.
What to Do: Set your goals based on your why
Before you set your goals, you need to understand why you set them. Your goals should always be based on your “why”, not someone else’s.
Do they align with the important things in your life? Your family; your dream; your relationship with God; your purpose? Goals that don’t align with what we consider important are inconsistent and scattered.
You want to get healthy but what’s your motive for getting healthy? Is it that you want to look good because your friend lost weight and now looks better than you?
Or do you want a healthy lifestyle so you can increase your chances of living longer to fulfill your purpose? Are you more likely to stick with your goal if you’re trying to change your lifestyle or if you’re trying to one-up someone else?
If you set your goals based on someone else’s “why”, you will inevitably fail. You need to determine what success looks like to you based on your values, your passions and your purpose, not someone else’s.
Before you set your goals, determine what you want out of life. Is it building a multi-billion dollar corporate business? Or is it building a home-based business that generates enough income to allow you to spend more time with your family?
Reason #3: You Expect Immediate Results
Most times, the New Year’s resolutions we set are a high-level view of something we want to stop or start doing. Our focus is only on the immediate outcome. Not the work that it takes to get there. Then, when we don’t see the results we expect, we become discouraged and give up on the first try.
What to Do: Understand That Real Change Takes Time
You need to cut yourself some slack. You’re not perfect (nobody is :)). You’re bound to fail or miss a target for your goals at some point. The important thing is to learn from your failure as quickly as possible and get back on track.
Real change takes time, and it’s not something you can do on your own. You need to have a support system or contingency plan to help you through the snags that will inevitably come.
Find a good Facebook group or a friend or two with similar goals to help encourage you and to hold you accountable. Meet at regular intervals to review and discuss your progress.
Monitoring your progress is important. It helps you to see how far you’ve come and keeps discouragement at bay. If it’s in your budget, you could also consider hiring a life coach.
It’s Not Enough To Set New Year’s Resolutions You Need To Set Goals
While our New Year’s resolutions are set with good intentions, they are usually too vague and set for the wrong reasons. In addition, because we expect immediate results, our resolutions quickly fall to the wayside as we become discouraged. If you want to make a lasting change in your life, you must set goals instead.
These goals must be S.M.A.R.T. goals, align with your “why” and you must have a system in place to keep you on track and avoid discouragement.
If you’ve set New Year’s resolutions (or were planning to), share them in the comments. Then let me know what goals you will set instead.