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Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail and How to Succeed

January 27, 2020

If you have given up on your New Year’s resolutions already, don’t worry you are not alone. 

 

Research conducted by Strava using over 800 million user-logged activities in 2019 predicts the day most people are likely to give up on their New Year's Resolution is January 19. Strava calls it "Quitter's Day."

 

 

 

Many don't last even that long.

 

If you want something different for yourself; if you want success, create habits, don’t make resolutions. 

 

One of my favourite books for creating powerful habits is Atomic Habits by James Clear, who explains how tiny changes, done consistently, can grow into life-altering outcomes.

 

So why do so many New Year’s resolutions fail in the first month?

 

Surveys show 66% of people break their resolution before the end of January. 32% of adults in the UK make at least one resolution, so that adds up to millions of people unable to commit to their plan for more than a few weeks.

 

Why is that?

 

Let’s explore why New Year resolutions fail. There are five main reasons in my opinion.

 

1. You don’t have a strong enough WHY

 

Ask yourself why this important to you? What will change in your life from achieving this? What will now be possible? It needs to be relevant.

 

If you don’t have a robust enough why…. there is insufficient will to make the changes.

 

2. Lack of specificity

 

People make a resolution but it’s too vague. This makes it much harder to focus and keep on track.

 

Example: I want to lose weight.

 

This is the most common resolution but it’s too nebulous to be helpful.

 

Being specific about your goal means putting some numbers on the desired loss, the timeframe, having some mini-goals along the way and MORE IMPORTANTLY, a detailed plan for HOW you will achieve the loss.

 

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is never truer than when it applies to resolutions.

 

3. Lack of belief in your success

 

Having an underlying lack of belief is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You sabotage your goal before you’ve even got started.

 

The weight loss example is one resolution which suffers from this issue. If you haven’t managed to lose weight before in all your previous attempts, then it’s hard to believe that you will be successful this time.

 

This lack of belief drives you to make poor choices and excuses to justify why you bought that cream cake or milkshake.

 

4. Lack of habit

 

Although it is widely believed that it takes 21 days to form a habit, a scientific research study published by Phillippa Lally shows that, on average, it takes around 66 days to form a habit.

 

In fact, there was range of duration of 18 to 254 days for participants to achieve 95% adoption of their daily habit.

 

Humans are creatures of habit, but when we are making New Year’s resolutions, we are often trying to implement something difficult to maintain on a consistent basis, such as dietary change, increase in exercise or a mental task such as learning a new language that requires us to expend effort.

 

It’s super simple to adopt a habit of watching 2 episodes of your favourite boxset every day after dinner because it doesn’t require much planning or execution, but going to the gym 3 times a week after work when you are already tired is a much harder proposition.

 

Habits can therefore be hard work to create and that’s why we give up easily. We don’t do something often enough for it to become an integral part of our life.

 

5. Lack of accountability

 

Accountability is taking responsibility for your actions and being able to report and justify the consequences of those actions. If you do not have accountability, then you can more easily walk away from your resolution as though it never existed. For you to have accountability you must have someone or multiple people to which you will report your progress. The more people you tell, the more you have to keep you accountable.

 

So, how can we be more successful?

 

 

 

Adopt SMART goals and document your WHY

 

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Write down WHY you are doing it.

 

When you set your goal, make it smart so instead of:

 

I want to earn more money in my business.

 

Try writing something more detailed, such as:

 

I want to increase profits by 20% (SPECIFIC & MEASURABLE)

 

by 31 December (TIME BOUND)

 

so that I can invest 50% back into the business and use the other 50% to pay a lump off the mortgage (RELEVANT).

 

This means I need to increase profits from 100K to 120K (ACHEIVABLE).

 

This means I will need to get 5 new clients on my top tier package (HOW).

 

If you want to understand this is in a little more detail, watch this video.

 

Accountability

 

Write down your goals, refer to them often and show them to others.

 

 

 

Having your goals written down makes them more real and you will be more accountable to yourself. Showing your goals to others helps you with accountability, but if you really want to be successful, then you should create progress tracking towards your overall goal.

 

This would include a monthly review of your financial position to see if you are on track with new client acquisition and existing client retention.

 

In a product-based business, monthly management accounts would help you to understand your costs and variances. Your accountability buddy could be your accountant/bookkeeper, or you could choose a life/business coach or simply your partner or a friend.

 

Motivation

 

We all lack motivation from time to time. That’s a normal part of human nature. For many people, lack of motivation is linked to procrastination. We are afraid of starting so we do nothing. Overcoming procrastination is actually very simple.

 

JUST DO IT.

 

The fear of doing something is often far greater than actually doing it. Except perhaps jumping out of a plane.

 

Most tasks that seem difficult are not as bad as you fear. Just take the first step and you will find out how much you actually can do.

 

In a later blog we will look at other reasons for lack of motivation.

 

I’d love to know how you are getting on with your New Year’s or even last year’s goals.

 

Comment below or drop me a line at nadia@nadiapatelcoaching.com.

 

If you would like some help making your goals SMART or an accountability buddy, I’m happy to help.

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