I hate to be the bearer of bad news… so I let this Mark Twain quote do it for me! Most New Year’s Resolutions fail! (Too soon?) Forbes.com reports that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions (for various reasons which we’ll get to in a bit). Here’s the thing, our resolutions have been failing for over a century: Mark Twain’s above quote is from January of 1863!
I don’t like setting myself up for failure, and I know you don’t either. So why do we continue to make resolutions? Psychology Today reports that people make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves. That seems valid, but PT goes on to say that people who set such resolutions aren’t ready to change their habits, especially bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate. These resolutions are also often unrealistic.
I’m just as guilty as the next person. I LOVE fresh starts, the idea of starting a year, blemish free and keeping it without mistakes used to excite me beyond belief. I say “used to” because I suffer from “Failure to Launch” syndrome. For most of my adult life, I would spend December eating whatever Christmas cookie crossed my path, telling myself it was fine because I would start eating better in January. Then my mind would run wild with the thought of how much weight I would lose come January and how much more attractive, popular, and better I would be by then. Spoiler alert: I was NOT part of the 8%.
In my case, as soon as I messed up once, I was done. There goes my fresh start, my blemish-free year and my motivation for continuing. I learned, through much trial and error, that shooting for the moon can be psychologically daunting. I’ll share some insights I use with my individual clients: The best route is to switch your focus and make your resolutions positive, tangible and simple.
3 Steps to your Resolution Makeover
- Let’s start with positive. When we base our goals on deprivation or the removal of something (that is proven to bring us happiness, joy, contentment) we set ourselves up for failure. I like to phrase my goals/resolutions in a positive way. Here’s an example for someone who wants to “Eat Healthy” in 2015. Instead of saying “don’t eat any junk food” switch it to “I will eat more healthy foods.” If you slip up and have a piece of junk food at 10am, you’ve already “failed” and the rest of your day is ruined. In switching your resolution to a positive, you can go the whole day without eating “healthy food” and as long as you choose some for your last meal of the day you’ve met your goal. Invite feelings of success!
- Ok, now let’s make this goal simple. Instead of thinking of all the healthy food items you can have throughout the day, narrow it down to one that you know is healthy + you enjoy eating. An obvious choice would be vegetables. This is a simple change that will keep you on track and make this goal that much more realistic!
- Great progress! Lastly, we need to make sure the goal is tangible. What do you picture when you think eating vegetables? A salad, a side dish, a smoothie? Eating vegetables is just a little vague…If we attach a reasonable, tangible quantity to this goal it would sound something like this “I will eat 1 cup of vegetables every day.” See how much different that feels? Now I’m thinking of a cup filled with pretty, fresh, tasty veggies!
So basically this example shows how you can go from “I won’t eat any junk food in 2015” to “I will eat 1 cup of vegetables every day in 2015.” This will help build a healthy habit, and switch the brain to think of opportunities where you can get your vegetable fix. Eventually, the cravings for junk food will lessen and you might even lose weight, as an awesome side effect! I guarantee you’ll feel healthier too!
Self-improvement is a shared American hobby! Share your resolution makeover in the comments section below! This will give you the bonus of accountability, making your resolution public (a huge motivator).
Live your WHOLE life!
Shannon + Meg