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Why New Year Resolutions Have Mostly Failed By Now

The feel-good factor of New Year is usually wearing off by now, even here in the Southern Hemisphere where many people are still in summer holidays. And with it, the motivation to act on our New year resolutions can also wear off.

Psychologists are quick to point out that we humans are creatures of habit and that it takes a lot of effort to change. And new year resolutions are definitely about change. However, most of us make changes at various times, and many of us make a lot of changes over the period of a year. So why are new year resolutions really so difficult.

Here are 4 key reasons why:

1. They have no context. Without a clear idea of how you want to be, and a believable plan to get there, the resolution has no hope of getting onto your priority list. It doesn’t link to a bigger picture. For instance, a common resolution is to get fitter or lose weight, but without a picture of how you will look and feel, and some longer term and shorter term goals, the resolution alone is not enough.

2. There is usually no daily commitment to action. To implement goals of any kind, we need to daily question our priorities, and how we are going to contribute towards longer term goals. Without that process in our thinking, the goals are often pushed down the priority list, or just forgotten about.

3. The resolution is unrealistic or too vague. A resolution like ‘lose weight’ is too vague – how much, by when? But often once we determine a goal, it is unrealistic and so we quickly find we are failing or falling behind where we need to be to achieve the goal. Sometimes this links back to lack of context. If the long-term goal flows down to monthly and weekly goals they are likely to be more realistic than a goal with no context. Often in goal-setting, we also expect too little in the longer term, and too much in the short-term. Goal achievement tends to follow an exponential growth path – slow to start but increasing speed as time goes on.

4. It takes too much energy without a good vision and strategy. Without a clear vision, it is difficult to feel excited about goals and resolutions. Some people find visual reminders helpful, while others like to commit to someone else about their goal so that they can help keep them accountable.

Just like strategic planning for a business, new year resolutions are pointless if not implemented. Chunking them down to realistic goals and keeping a clear focus on both the short-term goals and the longer term vision allows us to take action and identify aligned opportunities to get there even quicker.

It’s not too late by the way. You can resurrect your resolutions now and build a context for them. January isn’t over yet!

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 18, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Hey Jenni

    Great post. I always like to make my New Year resolutions before New Year as they seem to stick better. It’s really important to get intentional about goal setting.

    Keep up the blogging! Regards, David Andrews

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