Why do resolutions fail? Many factors can impact success rates, but most failures can be attributed to a few simple reasons:
Unrealistic Goals - When making resolutions, set a goal that is achievable. "I'm going to lose 100 pounds by July 4th" or "I'm going to work out every day this year" are similar to saying "I'm going to win the lottery this year" - they are just not realistic. The odds of losing 100 pounds in six months or not missing a workout for 365 days are similar to winning the lottery; possible but not probable.
Lack of Commitment - Often people are very quick to set a goal, but are unwilling to do the work necessary to achieve it. Most resolutions require a change of behavior and that change is not easy to accomplish. Old habits must be broken and new habits established. To be successful, the individual must be fully committed to making the change and willing to put in the time to do it.
All or Nothing Thinking - Most people tend to think of success and failure as the only options. Then, when their progress is not a linear progression, they decide they have failed and give up. For example, someone might resolve to lose 25 pounds. Things start well and they lose a few pounds each week. But then comes the week they gain back a pound they lost and suddenly they have failed. So they quit trying instead of accepting a bad week and continuing to work toward their goal. Remember, every effort will have setbacks, so don't give up when things don't go as planned.
No Support Network - Achieving goals is never easy and most people encounter days when they struggle to do what's necessary to be successful. Those are the days they need a support system to help them keep going. In most cases, that support is a friend or coach to help encourage or motivate them, a progress checkpoint to demonstrate how far they have come, or expert advice to help them overcome challenges.
How can you avoid these pitfalls and achieve your New Year's resolution goal? Here are a few tips to help you achieve success:
Set Intermediate Goals - Rather than focusing on your end goal, set a series of intermediate goals on your way to the final outcome. Achieving these shorter-term goals will help you stay motivated and help you see your progress toward your final objective.
Create a Detailed Plan - Once you have identified a realistic goal, create a series of small, achievable steps to get you there. If possible, add dates to make sure you are on track to reach your goal. Then, work to complete each step and check it off the list. You will be amazed at how seeing your progress will keep you motivated.
Give Yourself a Break - Nobody's perfect and your path to success will probably have a few bumps along the way. You may not achieve your weekly goal or complete a step on time. It's OK, things happen and sometimes you will backslide a little. Give yourself a break and keep moving forward. You can still achieve your goal as long as you remain committed to it.
Ask For Help - Everybody needs help from time to time, so build a support network of people you can call on when you get discouraged. Then use their support. It will not only keep you moving toward your goal, but it will make them feel good to share in your challenges and successes.
Celebrate Your Progress - What you are trying to achieve is not easy and sometimes it will be very hard. Celebrate your successes along the way to your goal. Regardless of whether you achieve your ultimate goal, you are trying and making progress. That's more than 90% of the population can say.
Achieving personal goals is challenging, but if you make a detailed plan and work at it, your chances of success are much higher. Hang in there and if at first you don't succeed, try again. Any worthwhile goal is worth the effort.