New Year’s Resolutions: Why you never keep them and how to finally achieve your goals
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Do you make New Year’s resolutions but only keep them for the first 5 days?
Do you belong to the people who make the same resolutions every year because you (once again) didn’t keep them?
Well, you’re not alone.
Studies have shown that less than 10% of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions.
But why do all those good intentions go to waste as soon as February hits the door?
How can you finally achieve your goals and be proud of yourself at the end of the year?
Let me show you the way!
Why can’t we keep with New Year’s resolutions?
Let’s be real.
Although you tell yourself every year “new year, new me”, there’s a high chance that you won’t keep up with your goals. Whether it is to lose weight, exercise, or eat healthy.
That’s the hard truth for most people. But that doesn’t mean we all suck and aren’t committed people. Actually, there are 4 reasons why this happens:
1) Your New Year’s resolutions don’t drive you
That’s the first thing to come into play: to reach your goal, you have to want it for real. It has to make you feel something.
Nothing new here, but society influences us a lot. A lot of time, it makes us think that we should be, look, do different. About weight, beauty, or family status… well, anything.
Related post: The impacts of the beauty industry on self-esteem
Do you really want to lose these 10 kilos?
Is it fundamental for you to have kids at 25 years old?
Who wants you to have this degree? You or your parents?
To make sure that your New Year’s resolutions come from yourself (rather than society’s expectations) ask yourself :
- Why these resolutions?
- How would it make me feel if I reach this goal?
If you don’t want something in your life, it won’t happen. Make sure your resolutions come from your heart and gut.
2) Your New Year’s resolutions aren’t clear enough
Telling yourself that you will “eat healthy”, “go to the gym” or “take care of your mental health” could mean anything… or nothing.
If your resolution isn’t specific enough, there are few chances you’ll make it happen. For your brain (and body) to follow through, you need details.
- Include 2 fruits and vegetables in every meal
- Exercise 3 times a week
- Meditate 5 minutes a day
3) Your New Year’s resolutions aren’t realistic
This one’s good. And I’ve made this mistake a lot.
Saying “I will go for a run every day” knowing that I only run when it’s between 20°C and 23°C… not realistic.
And don’t get me wrong, your goals should be challenging yourself. But instead of making resolutions you know you won’t keep, start small.
- If you want to start exercising, begin with 3 workouts a week (instead of 5).
- To stop eating meat, include 3 vegetarian meals in the week (instead of going all-in overnight).
4) You have no plan
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they usually don’t come with an action plan.
Having big goals is great, but where do you start? Which steps should you follow?
Since it’s the most common resolution, let’s take the example of weight loss again.
To lose 10 kilos, you, unfortunately, can’t just sit and wait until it happens.
You might need to:
- Meal prep on Sunday
- Train 3 times a week
- Get 8 hours of sleep
Related post : Lose weight without counting calories
That’s why I prefer to talk about goals rather than resolutions. Because it’s only when implementing daily actions that you’ll reach your big goal.
Ok so, this is it?
Not yet, but we’re almost there.
The power of habits
Daily repeated actions; that’s the key.
Let me explain.
The University of Duke found that more than 40% of our daily actions are habits. This means that we repeat almost half of our actions every. single. day.
Ant it’s pretty accurate.
Your breakfast as soon as you wake up in the morning. Brushing your teeth. Scrolling on Instagram during your lunch break. Going to the gym after work.
All the things we repeat without even realizing are habits we created for ourselves. So imagine if you included your goals in your habits.
Yep, that’s how you can achieve them. Remember when I said that New Year’s resolutions lacked a process?
As James Clear wrote in his book Atomic Habits, “Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.”.
Now that you know that processes make goals achievable, let’s learn how to set them up.
How human behavior comes into play
To set up processes in the right place, it’s important to understand how we behave as humans. BJ Fogg explains it in his book Tiny Habits.
He assumed that human behavior include 3 things :
This is or willingness to do something. The more we have, the more likely we will take action.
But as we all know, we can’t rely on our motivation to do things. That’s because motivation is not steady and it’s normal.
For example: Although I enjoy working out, some days, I’m not in the mood to go to the gym. If I still make it happen, it’s because I can control the following points.
It’s the difficulty level that making an action requires us. The easiest, the faster we’ll do it. The key here is to be aware of the difficulties that slow us doing something and make them easier.
For example: To make the process of going to the gym easier, I prepare my outfit + gym bag the day before. This prevents me from thinking “what am I going to wear?” which reduces procrastination A LOT, trust me.
It’s the trigger point of every habit. The alarm clock rings? You wake up. Need to pee? You go to the bathroom. The microwave beeps? You go take your meal.
Every action we make, as little as they are, are induced by a trigger point. Understanding this will enable you to create new (and better) habits.
How to set up new habits
In Tiny Habits, BJ Fogg describes how to make a new automation/habit. Prompts is where the magic happens.
Let’s assume that your New Year’s resolution is to take care of your mental health. Thus, you would like to meditate for 3 minutes a day.
That’s how to make it happen:
1) Find a recurring habit you already have and define it as your trigger point
Example: Making your tea every morning.
2) When your trigger point happens, include your new habit
Example: While waiting for the water to boil, practice your 3 minutes meditation
3) Once done, celebrate your achievement
Example: As soon as you finish meditating, have a few dance steps!
And this is how we make a habit. Yes, it is that simple and you can apply this to any situation/habit/goal.I know, it might sound crazy at first. But it works.
People doubt the celebration part, but it’s necessary. It’s the same process when teaching your dog to sit: you give it a biscuit to reward it.
Same for your kid learning to walk. You’ll yell “well doneeeee” so he/she knows that’s the right thing to do.
The science behind this? Celebration creates a dopamine boost (you know, the happiness hormone).
By producing it after taking a specific action, your brain will link both and think “that’s so cool, let’s do this again!”.
Hence the importance of celebrating as soon as you complete the action. If your celebration happens 2 hours later, your brain won’t be able to make the connection. Remember the dog and the kid?
Also, there’s no need for a fancy celebration. You could simply tell yourself “yes girl, you did it!” or put your favorite song on.
Becoming your best version year after year
You now know everything on how to make your New Year’s resolutions happen!
It’s way easier once we understand how it works, right?
My last advice is to review your goals every 3 months, 6 months, year. Take note of:
- What you accomplished
- What you’re proud of
- What you could improve
Don’t forget to celebrate every accomplishment and be kind to yourself in the process.
So, what goals are you going to put in place with this method? Let me know in the comments below!