2019-02-20
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During the last few days of December each year, people decide what they want to focus on changing in the coming year. In the United States, roughly 50 percent of people decide their goal is to save money while just shy of half of the American population resolves to either lose weight or get in shape. Almost everyone makes some sort of New Year’s resolution. After all, the start of a new year is a natural time to choose to break bad habits and create new ones. There is a fresh year in front of you that feels like a clean slate. 

The good intentions people have in late December and early January, however, quickly fall apart. Less than 10 percent of people actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions. Of those who fail to achieve their goals for the new year, more than 80 percent of people give up before the end of February. Commonly cited statistics state that it takes 90 days to form a habit. Most people throw in the towel long before they have even reached that point only to make the same New Year’s resolution the following year. For some reason you think that things will be different this year, but come Valentine’s Day, your New Year’s resolution is already a thing of the past. Why do you keep doing that?

Impotent Goals

“People are not lazy,” Anthony Robbins said. “They simply have impotent goals. That is, goals that do not inspire them.” Many people’s New Year’s resolutions are the definition of impotent goals. You decide that you are going to lose weight, but you feel good in your own skin and are not bothered by your appearance. You simply feel like you should lose a few pounds for no clear reason. Similarly, maybe you feel like you are supposed to want to climb the corporate ladder even though you are perfectly happy in your current job.
When you set goals that are things you feel you should want but have limited interest in, you are unlikely to put in the hard work needed to reach those goals. If you do not have a good reason for striving toward success, you will give up as soon as things get difficult. Unless you can articulate why you want to achieve something and truly feel moved or passionate when you state that why, your goal is unlikely to survive its first collision with a serious obstacle.

Unrealistic Aims

Some people set New Year’s resolutions that they could not care less about. Others go hurtling off in the other direction and set goals that are impossible to reach. Your goals should be challenging, but they should also be feasible. If your goals were physical objects, they should be placed on a shelf that you could reach only if you stood on your tiptoes and stretched your arm high over your head. Something that is difficult to reach but doable. They should not be dangling from a chandelier 30 feet over your head. Unfortunately, many people make a habit of hooking their goals on the chandelier instead of the top shelf. Some people really do manage to reach impossible sounding goals, but most people are going to fall far short of that.
Be realistic in your expectations when you set your goals. If you are living paycheck to paycheck and already spending little money on things other than necessities, setting a goal of saving $100,000 by the end of the year is crazy. Realism will keep you more motivated because you can see yourself inching toward your goal.

Expecting Perfection

Newsflash, you are not perfect. No matter how motivated you are or how much your goal means to you, you are going to make a mistake, fall off the wagon or want to give up at some point. This does not mean that you chose a bad goal, it simply means that you are human. Unfortunately, a lot of people see the first minor failure as a sign that they are doomed and will never keep their New Year’s resolution. So, they give up altogether at the first hint of backsliding. If you wanted to lose weight, you are not doomed to fail because you gave in and had one of the donuts your coworker brought to the office. Similarly, your financial goals are not ruined because you ended up having to spend a little more than expected one month and so you will not be able to put as much money in your savings as you wanted. Even for more serious issues such as escaping addiction, craving the addictive substance or having to have a friend keep you from going out to get it one day because you do not trust yourself does not mean you are going to be trapped in the cycle of addiction forever.
Even falling off the wagon does not have to be the end of it. Instead of staying on the ground, think about where you went wrong and decide how to avoid falling into the same trap. Then, climb back on the wagon.

Keeping Quiet

Some people tell everyone in earshot about their New Year’s resolution and blast it on social media. If they could, they would tattoo it on their forehead. Other people keep their goals to themselves. They feel that their resolutions are private and do not want to share them. Risking airing you and your spouses’ dirty laundry is never fun, but while some things might be uncomfortable to talk about, you are more likely to stick to your goal if you have someone keeping you accountable. Otherwise, there does not feel like you have anything to lose if you break your goal. Throwing in the towel, however, is harder when you will have to face a friend or family member, look them in the eye and say, “I give up.” If you really want to keep your New Year’s resolution, have someone act as an accountability buddy for you. If for some reason you do not have anyone you are comfortable sharing your resolution with, you can either find an anonymous site online and post your goal there or simply write it down and hang it where you will see it every day.
That way, you are at least accountable to yourself. 

Einstein’s Insanity

“Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.” The actual origin of this famous quote is unknown, though it is most commonly attributed to Albert Einstein. The quote’s mysterious history, however, does not make it any less true. If you do the same thing you have always done, you will get the same result you have always achieved. If you are one of those people who has set and failed at the same New Year’s resolution for several years in a row, you need to think seriously and honestly about why you failed in the past. If you wanted to lose weight but always kept snacks in the house, you might need to purge your home of all junk food this year. If you decided to stop smoking but continued to frequent areas where people smoked, you will need to find other places to spend your time. If you really want to achieve a goal that has eluded you in the past, you need to learn from your previous mistakes and try something new.

Giving Up

It is pretty straightforward. You might keep breaking your New Year’s resolution simply because you are in the habit of giving up on it. No goal worth reaching is going to be easy. A good, challenging goal is going to be just that – challenging. You will have to work to achieve it. Some people, however, seem to expect desire and good intentions to carry them through the entire year. That will not happen. No matter how much your goal matters to you, at some point, motivation will fade and your willpower will break. When that happens, you need to find a way to push through and have habits or plans in place for keeping yourself on the straight and narrow during difficult times. Your goal is not going to achieve itself. You are going to have to work for it.

Your New Year’s resolution is no different than any other goal. If you want to succeed, you must pick a goal that you actually care about achieving and be willing to work for it. When you fall off the wagon, get back on and try again. Push through the hard times, and keep your eye on the prize so that when New Year’s comes again at the end of the year, you can face it as a stronger, happier, better you than you ever dreamed you could be.