Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

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Part 1 of a 2-part series.  Click here for part 2.

Around the beginning of the year people feel a renewed commitment towards their goals because it feels like a fresh start. We are encouraged to let go of the old and embrace the new by making New Year’s resolutions.  This is why if you’re a regular at a gym you know that there is never any equipment available from January 1 through mid-February – everyone is working on their new commitment to get healthy.  However, by the end of February the gym is back to normal, with the regulars making the rounds.

Studies show that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually accomplish them, despite swearing up and down that this is the year that they will stick with it. What goes wrong? Here are some reasons why resolutions so often fail.

You’re fixing something that’s wrong with you.
Let’s use the example of someone who wants to lose weight. Deciding that there is something wrong with you (“I’m fat”) may compel you to action now, but it will be temporary because you are basing your motivation on feeling bad. If you don’t see results, you continue the negative conversation about yourself that not only are you “fat,” but you are “lazy” and “incompetent.”

The reason this doesn’t work is because there’s nothing wrong with you. What’s true instead is that your actions don’t line up with your vision. Rather than “losing weight,” choose to “be healthy” and take actions in accordance with that.

You’re trying to accomplish some THING instead of creating an EXPERIENCE.
For the first couple of years after my daughter started school, the mornings in our house were very difficult. Invariably it would end with a meltdown or argument. Not only was it daily wear and tear on our lives, but it was beginning to seriously affect our relationship as a mother and daughter. I kept thinking that if I got up earlier or prepared better in the night that it would go more smoothly. Nothing seemed to help.

Finally I came to the core of what I wanted: stress-free, easy mornings where we enjoyed being together. The very first thing I did was to work on controlling my own reactions when she had her meltdowns. This allowed me to be patient, loving, and supportive, which was precisely what was needed to create those stress-free mornings. My commitment to our relationship and enjoying that time together made the shift that I wanted.

You want instant gratification.
Resolutions often fail because people are expecting instantaneous results, and when they don’t get them, they give up. Don’t discount small progress as not being good enough. It took my family over a year to get to the point where our mornings went smoothly, and we still have the occasional breakdown. Instead of discounting the work we’ve done, I treat it more like a wakeup call to give our relationship the focus it deserves.

You put too much stake in being disciplined.
If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times: when I ask people why they haven’t achieved their goals they say “I’m not disciplined” or “I’m lazy.” They go on to wax poetic on how much better their lives would be if they could just instill discipline in their lives or have more willpower. (Another form of “there’s something wrong with me.”)

Discipline is a RESULT of success, not the reason for it. But because people think that having discipline is a vital component of achieving their goals, they feel inadequate and ultimately defeated if they falter along the way. (You can read more about my viewpoint about laziness in this free guide about procrastination.) Don’t set up another barrier to success, as in, “I have to be disciplined to be healthy.” Skip past the discipline and go straight to taking purposeful action.

You don’t set yourself up to win.
I get it. The sky is the limit and anything’s possible. But if you haven’t been to the gym in forever, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to suddenly start going 5 x a week for an hour. Or if you have $25,000 in credit card debt, no savings, and no steady income stream, it’s dubious that you’ll pay that all off in a year and save $10,000.

Time after time I’ve seen people get discouraged by striving for something that’s way out of reach, and then give up. The question I ask is, “What would be a win for you?” The answer might simply be “Take a walk at lunchtime three days a week.” or “Get a job that I love and pay off $5,000 in debt.”

The success we dream of IS within reach, and you can create it in 2017. The second part to this 2-part blog series reveals additional pitfalls and how to overcome them to create breakthrough results consistently and sustainably all year long.

Join me on January 19 for a free, live, and interactive webinar “New Year’s Resolutions:  Friend or Foe?”  Here are just some of the things you’ll learn on the webinar:

  • How systems – not goals – will ensure your success
  • Why the amount of time, money and resources you have has no impact on what you can accomplish
  • The top reasons why most New Year’s resolutions fail, and what to do about them
  • Eight common ways we sabotage our success

To register, click here.


One thought on “Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

  1. Pingback: The Anti-New Year’s Resolutions: Systems, not Goals |

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